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 Eileen Doman  (1954 - )

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Lived/Active: Illinois      Known for: mod-naive photo real figure

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Ad Code: 4
AskART Artist
from Auction House Records.
Children With Easter Basket and Bucket.
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following is from the artist:

Eileen Doman/Self Taught Artist
My Story

Many people spend years trying to achieve a goal, through education and hard work, some succeed, some dont. I have spent years trying to be fulfilled and have substance and meaning in my life. The role of mother and wife was my source of identity, but it somehow did not fill that hole, the need for something more, somehow life was passing me by I felt. So, at age 39 I began talking more and more about painting to friends, whom I am sure thought I was coming from left field. How could the tedium of day to day life drive someone to paint? This is the question Im sure was in their minds, these mothers of toddlers whose existence thrived on "Johnnys" first step. Indeed, those are not trivial matters in day to day life, but to me it is a little mediocre, at best, when I consider they have the college degrees.

After much thought, finally in the fall of 1992, I bought brushes and paint and began to paint my couch, because I loved the big leafy pattern, which was similar to 1940s curtains. It ended up looking nothing like the pattern, but I did finish it tucked it away. It came to me, how wonderful it would be to paint a person, because the art, I most admired was always that of VanGogh and Modigliani, and of course their subject matter was always people. My determination seemed to suddenly exceed my ability. I began going through old family photo albums and the sentimental value they gave me, was, as always, overwhelming, particularly my mothers side of the family.

The fervor began as if to alter the course of a river, I sat everyday at the kitchen table, rising at 5:00 am, took a short break to get my daughter off to school and painted until 2:00 p.m. in my robe. In just three short months I accumulated 13 paintings, my once empty living room walls filled with artwork and I had no idea what to do with it all.

Family and friends would come over and be my armchair critics, giving advice, my dad at that time suggested I go to school, and my mother encouraging me by saying they "sort of look like the subject in the photo".

The spiritual connection with my maternal grandmother became a big issue for me. I painted her over and over, and obtained custody of every photo album my mother owned. The inspiration from my grandmother, Ida Bell Gray, was the fact that she raised 4 children alone in rural Kentucky and had little education. She worked very hard, doing ironing and whatever work she could find to put food on the table. She relied solely on her inner strength for survival, there was no welfare. In essence she became and always be my heroine in life, one of those forgotten people in everyday life, but yet had one of the most difficult challenges a woman alone could face. I ask myself, why does someone like her go unrecognized? Subconsciously, I guess I set out to make her life important and the many women like her who have gone through the same thing.

In February 1993, I joined an art league in Wheaton, IL and entered a painting in a juried show in March. Embarrassed of my art and the feeling of inadequacy among all the other highly trained artists, I asked a friend to go with me and enter it on my behalf. I was not able to attend the judging, and called the following Monday to inquire about "an ugly painting" and I had, indeed won a ribbon of merit. Tears of joy filled my heart, thus it was just the beginning. A critic, was to be a guest there late in March. I brought two paintings, and her first comment was "we have a primitive among us", in which I hadnt a clue as to what that meant. She found the paintings to be brilliant, and strongly urged me to do shows. Another revelation had come over me and fueled me to continue on.

In August of 1993, I set up at the Gold Coast Art Fair in Chicago, and met a young woman who wanted to help me get into galleries, she bought two of my works at $150.00 each. She connected me with the Liz Blackman Gallery in Los Angeles, who immediately wanted to exclusively show my work, and in January 1994 brought me to the annual Outsider Art Fair in New York. That which was accompanied by a full page ad in Folk Art Magazine.

The response in New York was overwhelming, and was a complete sellout. Another major gallery in New York (Ricco/Maresca) bought five of my works and acted as if they were brought to their knees. It was all of course quite incomprehensible to say the least. My return home was met with more praise, a writer for the New Yorker Magazine wanted to do a write-up on me, for my first one woman show in May 1994, at the New York Gallery. After that write-up, I received a call from the producer of Eye to Eye, the Connie Chung television show, who wanted to do a story in my hometown. The camera crew turned my living room into a studio and we roamed the town for three days and returned to my hometown for the story. It aired October 8, 1994. I also received a letter from Senator Paul Simon, commending me on my success and his utmost support. There are several more magazine interviews also up to this point.

It is all so grand, but my focus still remains on my art and the importance of everyday life, the pain, joy and sorrow we all experience, that somehow seems to all pass unnoticed, but all are major influence of the human condition, which is precisely what drives me to paint. I have accomplished notoriety, but my mission now is to inspire others. Self motivation is the best tool one can have, the challenge of overcoming obstacles and following ones heart and mind.

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