"I love to draw and when other
people tell me how much they enjoy my work or that it is inspiring to them in some
way, it is very humbling for me. It also inspires me to do justice to the animals
Were you an artist before you were injured?
No, I was your basic over-active child, too busy to sit down and draw. When I did draw, it was to doodle spaceships and race cars. I loved working with my hands, especailly in wood and metal. So I'm pretty much a self-taught artist.
How did you learn to draw by mouth?
I'm really just holding the pencil in my teeth. My neck is doing all the work. After the bet with my brother to see who could draw a better picture, I started out just sketching things out of art books and around the house. Then one day we received a Christmas card with a sketchy line drawing of a house on it. I thought I could do something like that, so I copied the style. After awhile my own style developed. I've only taken one art class after my injury and it was figure drawing. Every image I draw is a learning experience, about the animal and how to bring it to life. Because I've found this hidden talent within me, I believe everyone of us has hidden talents that each person can find in themselves.
Why do you call your series "Vanishing Breeds"?
I draw the images with some part of the animals fading out to represent how many great and small creatures habitats are being destroyed and the creatures themselves are disappearing in the wild. Soon the only places where we will be able to see the fortunate few that are saved is in zoos, managed parks, animal reserves and sadly, on video.
Do you do commission work?
Presently, I'm not taking on any commission pieces. I have a long list of images in my mind I want to work on first.
How long does it take to complete a drawing?
It usually takes anywhere from 40 to 400+ hours, depending upon the image size and the amount of detail I cover. If it is a large piece, I have to draw half of the image upside down and then flip it around because my reach is limited. Drawing is hard on my neck and the neck wasn't built to do the amount of repetitive motion I use to create my images.
Do you sell your originals?
Presently, none of my originals are for sale.
Where do you come up with your ideas?
Most all of my images have come from my mind. At night, when I can't sleep, I draw them in my mind with the hands I can't use in real life. I have a back log of images I want to draw. Once I have an image in mind, I go in search of photos and videos to help me with the movement, fur texture, muscles, paws, beaks and most importantly the eyes.
For many years I abused my neck by working too many hours, (sometimes 6-8 hours), without taking a break or stretching. A few years back I began having problems controlling my pens. I even had problems controlling my mouthstick I use to type on the computer. I went to a doctor and they found I had strained all the muscles in the left side of my neck. I was told I might have to give up drawing. So, I went to another doctor.
I stopped drawing for six months and went through a year of therapy. I started drawing again, no more 6-8 hour stretches, now I can only draw 2-4 hours with a few breaks in between. I also switched to pencils, which gave me more freedom and it lead me to my "Vanishing Breeds" series.
I wish to thank everyone who has offered words of encouragement and those who have purchased my work for supporting my art!
If you have any other questions, comments, or would like information about availability of Doug's work, please contact me at: MouthArt@aol.com.