Art up Close: Doug Carter’s “Roses” Aglow

Tyler artist Doug Carter’s “Roses” reflects the light and color he loves in painting, “giving things that don’t glow a natural glow.”

📷 photos by Carol Thompson

“Roses,” a still life created from a friend’s photo, “is simple but says a lot,”  Carter said. The blue and orange tints — opposites on the color wheel — complement one another. The window is a “subtle spark” while the white line keeps you in the painting, he said. 

The chair is a “stop sign” that “keeps the eyes from traveling across the bottom of the painting and exiting it.” The chair stops the eye and leads the viewer up the painting. These artistic techniques “keep you circling,” Carter said.

Saturday, the artist said , is his day to paint in his office studio at home. His wife Barbara often asks, “did it fall off the brush?” when it seems so simple – her term to describe the ease of skill, execution of the process and speed of completion. 

Carter likes peace and quiet to focus and the weather has a say in his craft, too. “The canvas won’t allow painting in the rain just as you don’t paint a house in the rain,” he said. His mediums are oils and acrylic paints. 

The former Holiday Inn traveling chef didn’t realize the monetary value of his art until Barbara called him from a booth she had set up in the park. “I just sold one of your paintings for $300,” she said. 

Now a professional artist “after 30 years of practice” who supplements his career in food sales,  Carter sold more art last year than ever. 

“My creative side feeds my exhausted side,” he said recently at the Palette of Roses Art League exhibit in Tyler’s Rose Garden Center. 

“Giving things that don’t glow a natural glow” is Doug Carter’s aim in his painting, “Roses.”

Carter particularly loves the artistic technique of backlighting in “Roses” where the light source is behind the object. The appealing halo effect highlights the shape of the blue bottle and some of the roses, moving them forward in the painting. The dark areas of a painting, he said, “let you go wild with color.” 

He prefers a painting that is “painterly” rather than photographic. When a picture doesn’t work for Carter and makes him sad, he throws it away. About seven out of 10 are high quality, he said, and he learns from his mistakes. 

The child of an artist, Carter admired his mother’s paintings and loved art books. His uncle inspired him to draw, teaching him that drawing “is the skeleton of every painting.” He was encouraged when his elementary school art earned accolades. Some parents, he said, are reluctant to encourage art to make a living. 

Carter’s artistic career really took off when Barbara gave him art lessons as a gift. Mostly self-taught, he attended workshops over the years and credits much of his success to his connection with other PORAL artists. The art league is set to celebrate its 70th anniversary this year. 

Doug Carter with “Roses” at the Tyler Rose Garden Center.

Art league president Diane Reis said  like the biblical body of believers, the artists work better together sharing life. During the COVID-19 shutdown, the members missed the interaction of the community and the encouragement to paint.  

When Reis joined the group in 2019, only seven artists were attending. Since the formation of the organization in 1952, members have gathered in various Tyler public buildings. 

After the pandemic, members began meeting in homes, a launching pad to bond with one another and bring the organization back to life,  Reis said. 

“Roses” is one of a number of floral-themed paintings on display at the Tyler Rose Garden Center.

Membership grew from seven to 35 with the current count at 71. PORAL now has a permanent art home at the Rose Garden Center where members and guests meet the third Thursday of each month at 6:30 p.m. for programs given by artists and experts.  

We have fun, Reis said, taking part in community events like Bee Day in the Garden, when five members painted art projects with 45 children. Local artists plan to display and sell art at the Palette of Roses Art Show and 70th Anniversary October 13 – 15 at the Rose Garden Center. 

The variety of art in PORAL’s art exhibit “makes a huge difference,” said Lisa Wells, tourism facilities supervisor at the Rose Garden Center. The artists are quick to replace art when a piece sells. 

Doug Carter’s social media post aptly expresses his artists’ eye and fixation with painting while going about daily life.

The display of color is a draw for visitors who come in from the heat after visiting the gardens to sit on benches in front of the permanent exhibit. One visitor from out of state loved one of the paintings so much,  her husband later ordered the piece  as an anniversary gift. Another couple visiting the center celebrated their anniversary by selecting and purchasing paintings for each other. “We see the stories,” Wells said .

With 500 paintings to his credit, Carter shares his “God-given gift” presenting PORAL demonstrations and giving art lessons. He is on Facebook, speaks as a guest on Neita Fran Ward’s Art Connection of East Texas radio program and is creating an online web page. 

How can people support the arts and encourage creativity in the Tyler community?

“Buy local art,” Carter said.

Carol Thompson, a former newspaper reporter, has been published in “We Need Not Walk Alone” and National Public Radio’s (NPR) Marketplace. A member of the Rusk County Poetry Society and The Poetry Society of Texas, Carol is a coauthor of “Souls in the Sand” and “Twelve East Texas Poets.”

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