He enjoys fishing, camping, working in his garden, and spending time with his family. He enjoys volunteering at the Senior Citizen Center as a boy scout and working with Boy Scouts. He has been a full time artist since 2002.
His education includes General ED and drawing classes at Snow College and Salt Lake Community College. He also took a year of watercolor classes from Utah watercolor artist Harold Peterson, which he says made a world of difference in how he approached art. His primary education has come from studying great art and consulting other artists.
Aagard began his career as a watercolor artist. In 2000, after seeing a show of paintings by Gary Ernest Smith, he was hooked on the power possible with oil paints. With encouragement and feedback from Smith, he set his hand to paint oils with a knife. “I never get bored painting with oil. There are so many possibilities, so many techniques to try that one could never exhaust the love of learning. I have found that my work has a more dimensional feel or depth when painted with knife, and often times the texture is more fun than the composition,” he says.
His paintings have won several state and local awards and shows in several galleries in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming and Utah. They are part of many museum, public, private and corporate collections. He has had solo exhibitions in Park City, Alpine, Ogden and Provo Utah, Palm Desert California, Ruidoso New Mexico and Scottsdale Arizona. He was featured in Southwest Art in Best of the West Nov. 2005 and 2006, and was featured in Western Art Collector Magazine Nov. 2007. He has an image in a Houghton-Mifflin textbook in conjunction with a Robert Frost poem â€œPasturesâ€, and also a book cover painting for a book of poetry.
I approach art the same way I’ve approached any venture. Knowing I have much to learn, working to improve, and striving to be the best I can possibly be. The big difference is that art is the only occupation I have undertaken that I could entirely give myself to. To fully invest myself physically, mentally and spiritually.
I search for the spirit or emotion a subject evokes in me, and strive to find a way to put it on canvas. It’s often a magical process. I love being an artist. There are so many wonderful discoveries that are made through close scrutiny of the land whose wonder I would have totally missed had it not been for my profession. Thank you to all those who make it possible for me to continue.
Measuring the growth of a child is best done from a distance; one’s memory has a chance to record change. Growth of an artist may often require the same patience, change is slow and often difficult to discern. Utah artist Douglas Aagard; however, has transformed seemingly overnight. What would cause an artist with a growing following to risk a daring makeover?
Doug grew up in Western Montana’s Bitterroot Valley, an area he remembers where “the people were few and the adventures great”. He developed an appreciation for the land, and there his resourcefulness, creativity, and work ethic flourished. Young Doug spent his summers working a dairy farm, a saw mill, and eventually out in the mountains, where he was left alone to care for two horses and a thousand sheep. In the tranquil green fields of Western Montana, Doug saw the world as a picture, waiting to be captured.
Recognizing oneself as not merely artistic, but as an artist is an awakening of the senses. Doug’s talent emerged when his journal entry illustrations negated the need for text; “I would simply draw a picture”, he said. College courses and private lessons helped Doug to apply new techniques to his work, but in the words of the artist; “my greatest lessons have been from practice”.
At the dawn of the new millennium, Doug had an opportunity to paint with Gary Ernest Smith, a Utah artist of national renown. Gary, says Douglas, “introduced me to the power and profoundness that is possible in painting”. He also introduced Doug to the pallet knife, which the artist credits to adding a whole new dimension to his work.
Gary Smith’s influence was evident in Aagard’s work, the similarities of tone and texture (and often subject matter) were difficult to mistake. The commercial viability of Smith’s characteristic style, and the higher price of his work seemed to open a window for Aagard. Although acting upon a welcome influence, Doug’s work was selling in a niche he did not create, and like many artists before him, Aagard’s work became recognizable for its similarity to his mentor.
In a conversation with Gary Smith, Doug asked what he could do to improve. “Just keep painting,” said his mentor, “Just keep painting”. Armed with this insight, Doug steadily produced work, seeking the personal consciousness of growth. Like growing children, it is hard to “feel” oneself evolving; it just happens.
Like those same children, an outside observer is usually the first to remark upon the transformation; “How he’s grown” they’ll say, to which the parents reply “Why yes, I guess he has since you’ve seen him last!” And Doug’s change became observable in much the same way. Showing in a gallery, he learned, is quite different from having a one-man show. Preparing for his first, Aagard found himself pressed to offer enough work to cover the gallery walls. “I was struck by the similarity of my works”, he observed, “ the scenes and colors would change, but ultimately it was all the same.”
When Doug arrived at Park City’s Meyer Gallery for his first show, the owners were stunned by the alteration. “Doug’s work has taken on a whole new perspective” said owner Susan Meyer “his earlier work gave a sense of affinity and recollection, his new work transports his audience to the scene.” Aagard attributes his change to, of all things, sagebrush. In creating “Cerrulean Sage”, something inside clicked for the young artist. “I found myself capturing the texture and subtle changes in light on the sagebrush deep into the landscape. Sagebrush transformed me.”
Suddenly obsessed by sagebrush, Aagard began adding features and variances, and the detailed effects he acquired leapt across the landscape to the small cactus and grasses. “Suddenly I was painting a scene of corn stubble and sky with a new vision. It was my work, yet the sky was not like any other sky I had painted, and the corn stubble was not like any other I’d done.”
Meyer says, “Doug carried Plowed Fields and Dark Skies into the gallery last of all his works, and the response was memorable. Both our staff and guests just stopped and remarked upon the compelling mood of the scene.”