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 Douglas Lew  (20/21st century)

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Lived/Active: Minnesota      Known for: figure

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Ad Code: 4
Biography from American Design Ltd.:
DOUG LEW

I was born in Shanghai, China and came to the United States with my parents at age fifteen, having completed all but the last year of high school in China.  In those years, all school children, from about age six on were required to do calligraphy every day in small and large characters as a daily exercise, somewhat similar to penmanship in the West.  An average of one hour a day was spent copying past masters of calligraphy in several styles and sizes.  By about age twelve all were quite proficient in the handling of a brush, at least to the extent that handwriting could be legible throughout China.  As in all endeavor, some excelled more than others but everyone understood the importance of calligraphy not only as means of communications but as an art form in the highest degree - equal to if not surpassing painting.  In fact, one form of painting in China is traditionally referred to as "writing nature."

Exposure to all things western was a unique advantage growing up in Shanghai in those years.  The technical superiority of the west led most of us into a fascination of the west - movies, magazines, fashion, language, food, writings, music and art.  I remembered in junior high school art classes were given once a week for about two hours.  We were given a choice in doing western art or traditional Chinese art.  I chose western art.  Oil was too expensive so we used watercolor instead which, to me, felt like a natural extension of calligraphy.  It was a very superficial orientation to watercolor painting and it laid dormant for the next 30 years.  In the meantime, drawing in pencil and ink took over as a private hobby on my own.  With a small circle of classmates, we competed with each other in copying the likeness of movie stars and other subjects.  The skill was further sharpened in life drawing classes later.  It remained a pleasurable and valuable skill in later years.

Any statement by a serious artist can only be the thoughts and ideas expressed at one particular time of his/her long development in art.  Look at all the different periods Picasso went through.  Or the difference between Turner's official paintings and those he did on his own.  Look at Goya's court paintings and those wonderful drawings he secretly did of the cruelty of war. Look at Sargent's official portraits and his casual watercolor sketches, or Homer's long journey from an illustrator to oil paintings and finally, his marvelous watercolors.  One wonders what went through their minds if their thoughts were written down at various stages for us to muse.  I was especially struck by Cezanne's comment when he found out he was dying at the ripe old age of 91.  He said, "…damn it, just when I've found out about colors!"

This is true of myself.  I, too, am beginning to find out about colors - the most elusive and mystifying part of painting.  It defies any formulas and rejects any systematic analysis. Its emotional impact is immediate and personal.  No wonder Monet can paint the exact same subject six or eight different times in different color schemes.  If I were to analyze myself I would say that my colors have varied greatly from the paintings I did just a few years ago.  I prefer paintings that are unexpectedly well composed and convey a solid drawing - not a copy of a photograph but of imagination and knowledge.  I enjoy a good abstract painting but I must admit that it leaves me a bit dissatisfied, for, without the discipline of drawing I feel unchallenged either in painting or viewing one.  I strive to achieve a sense of force and lightness, of energy and ease, a careful carelessness, a controlled accident and a sense of the poetic.  I should also say those are my dreams and I don't always succeed.

EDUCATION
Bradley University, B.F.A. 1952, M.A. 1954

SELECTED EXHIBITIONS
1973 Skinny Art Galleries, solo, Los Angeles, California.
Artists of the Southwest, juried show, Merit Award.
1976 Susan Kohn Gallery, solo exhibit, St. Paul, Minnesota.
1977 Midwest Watercolor Society, juried show, Award of Excellence, Duluth, Minnesota.
1978 C.G. Rein Galleries, solo exhibit, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
1979 Midwest Watercolor Society, juried show, Award of Excellence, Rochester, West Bend, Wisconsin.
1980 Salmagundi Club Annual, juried show, Award of Excellence, New York NY.
C.G. Rein Galleries, solo exhibit, Palm Beach, Florida.
1981 Allied Artists of America, juried exhibit, Merit Award, New York, NY.
C.G. Rein Galleries, solo exhibit, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
1983 Midwest Watercolor Society, juried exhibit, Signature and Life Member, Rochester, Illinois.
C.G. Rein Galleries, solo exhibit, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
1984 C.G. Rein Galleries, solo exhibit, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
1985 C.G. Rein Galleries, solo exhibit, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
1990 Target Headquarters, dual exhibit, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
1991 Salon Regain, by invitation, Lyon, France.
1992 Area Gallery, dual exhibit, Edina, Minnesota.
1993 The Maritain Art Institute, juried show, Loveland, Ohio.
National Watercolor Oklahoma, Gold Medal, Midwest City, Oklahoma.
1995 White Oak Gallery, solo exhibit, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
1996 Phipps Center for the Arts, group exhibit by invitation, Eclectic Watercolors, Hudson, Wisconsin.
1997 Louisiana Watercolor Society, juried show, New Orleans, Louisiana.
Salmagundi Club Annual, juried show, New York, NY.
Commissioned by the Royal Caribbean cruise ship "Enchantment of the Seas" for 7 paintings 24 X 34.
1998 Commissioned by Ritz Carlton Hotel for two paintings.

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY
1984 "Four Portraits" by Shannon King, Twin Cities Magazine, June edition.
Dorn Communications, Inc., Minneapolis, Minnesota.
1987 Author, Capturing Motion in Watercolor, published by Watson/Guptill, New York, NY. 144 page book with more than 300 illustrations. Translated in French, Saisir le Mouvement a l'Aquerelle, 1991 by Bordas, Paris, France.
1988 "Arts Salutes" by Adelheid Fischer, six works feature, Arts: The Magazine of The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, January edition.
1991 Author, Tauromachy: The Art of Bullfighting, a six-minute video containing 140 drawings and painting. Merit Award, The Houston International Film Festival, Houston, Texas.
1991 Hands Faces and Figures by Angela Gair, seven paintings selected, published by Quarto Publishing London, England.
1991 Painting Solutions: Houses and Buildings by Hazel Harrison, two paintings selected, published by Studio Vista, London, England.
1991 "Creative Process" by Jack Hines, Southwest Art Magazine, April issue, CBH Publishing, Inc., Houston, Texas.
1992 Painting the Effects of Atmosphere by Patricia Seligman, five paintings selected, published by North Light Books, Cincinnati, Ohio.
1994 The Complete Watercolor Artist edited by Sally Harper, four paintings selected, published by Chartewell Books, Edison, New Jersey.
1996 People in Watercolor, selected by Betty Lou Schlemm, one painting selected, Rockport Publishers, Rockport, Massachusetts.
1997 Best of Watercolor Painting Composition, one painting selected, Rockport Publishers, Rockport, Massachusetts.
1998 Best of Watercolor Painting Color, one painting selected, Rockport Publishers, Rockport, Massachusetts.

Doug Lew is listed in American Artist: An Illustrated Survey of Leading Contemporaries and Artists of Chinese Origin in North America Directory.

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