Quarterly Wildlife Artist Feature-Paschalis Dougalis
|Paschalis Dougalis sketching on location|
Welcome back to yet another inspiring Wildlife Artist feature. Our artist for this feature is an ever-young artist, who spends his days drawing, painting live subjects, he is one of the best nature illustrators, award winning artist, has illustrated for many books covers and his works have been published in more than 25 books. Personally, I have been following his works for few years, he is consistently working everyday on location. This has inspired me to pick-up my brushes and go paint outdoors. Without any further delay, lets speak to Paschalis Dougalis, shall we?
Name of the Artist: Paschalis Dougalis
Date: July 2020
Form of Art: Painting
Contact details: https://dougalis-wildlifeart.blogspot.com
Dear Paschalis, thrilled to interact with you for this feature. I am eager to know how your art journey started? What inspired you to take up art?
It is a pleasure and honor to be featured, Prasad! It all started very early. According to my parents when I was four-year-old, I accurately drew a rooster using a pencil. Ever since Art has never stopped. I was fortunate to grow up in a rural area in northwestern Greece where domestic animals were everywhere. There was abundance of wild bird species even in the villages and the cities. While in the primary school I did many life studies of domestic animals, this came naturally to me. As a teenager, I spent my days exploring portraiture from life or creating my own comic characters. After seeing the Bird guide in 1993, I decided to become a nature artist.
May I know how you learnt this artform? Do you have a Mentor or Mentors?
As mentioned above, I was always interested in drawing animals & birds, had my first solo exhibition in my hometown in 1993. I wasn’t aware that Wildlife art was an Art form during that period. The turning point of my career was in 1995 after purchasing a book illustrated by Carl Brenders, followed by Lars Jonsson`s Bird guide and The art of Robert Bateman. I realized the importance of fieldwork and that I had a long way to go. These three books showed me a new way to look at Nature art and opened doors to an exciting new world. (Few of the greats in the Wildlife Art arena right there for inspiration)
|Peregrine Falcon on a hunt for Passenger Pigeons|
Passenger Pigeons are extinct species of pigeons
Have seen your images from the field, it amazes me watching your sketches and painting from live subjects. Could you please share with us how working live is different from working from photographs?
The main difference is the way our brain works out of our comfort zone while working from a live subject. On the other hand, if someone is copying or uses solely photographs as reference material depends on the light conditions and possible perspective “errors” of those images. When working from life you have to be prepared that your model will change its posture or fly away anytime (incase of a bird), however at the same time you have the unique chance to understand the anatomy and the movement of a species. The biggest benefit of observing, sketching and painting a 3-D model from life is that many images will be saved in our visual memory creating a valuable “Image Databank” for future use. This first-hand experience is irreplaceable. (You make it sound easy)
|Bonelli's Eagle on a hunt for Chukar Partridges|
We all have our favorite medium, don’t we? May I know about your favorite medium? If yes, could you explain why?
Actually, I don`t have any favorite medium. I have worked with various mediums and still experimenting with them. Primarily, I work with Watercolors & Gouache for illustrations, smaller paintings or field work. Prefer Acrylics for bigger paintings on stretched canvas and panels. I love Fineliners & Pens on toned paper and for fieldwork. Have worked with oils during my earlier days.
My fascination for materials is never ending. May I know your top essential materials to carry when sketching/drawing/painting live?
When working outdoors, it depends on weather conditions and I have to be well prepared. My must carry art materials while working outdoors are:
(Note:Always carry your binoculars and Spotting scope when you have to work outdoors where subjects are at a distance. Both help in observing the subjects accurately in detail)
|Tawny Owl live study|
Now for the exciting question. Could you share your experience about being “2016 Winner of the Langford Press Field Sketches Award”?
I had similar experiences in the past taking part in the Bird illustrator of the year competition in England 2001 / 2002 and in Silberner Uhu (German Award for Bird Artists 2003). However, for this contest had to present a work from the field from life, depicting real wild birds. I have to mention that I applied four times, and every time I got the message that I have been among the finalists but it was my fifth attempt that I was awarded. It is a pity that despite the importance of field work since the main sponsor Ian Langford passed away, it seems that there is no interest to create and establish similar competitions. (Hope they continue the tradition of recognizing field work again sometime soon!)
Seeing one’s work on print is always a delight. Could you share about illustrating for books/covers?
Working exclusively as a freelance illustrator from many years, is demanding work for sure. It is about of coordination between the author, publisher and me. Fulfilling and meeting their requirement is vital. I started working on illustrations from Greece. Till date I have illustrated more than 25 books and numerous articles and magazine/book covers. The milestone in my career has been the European bird guide published in 2006 in five languages and helped me to establish myself as a nature illustrator.
|European Bird Guide|
It is impossible to mention them all, since there are so many. The giants of the Renaissance the realists of the 19th century and artists like Norman Rockwell and Andrew Wyeth are among my favorites. The first wildlife artists I encountered are Carl Brenders, Lars Jonsson, and Robert Bateman. Later followed by artists, like Louis Agassiz Fuertes, Ray Harris Ching, George McLean, Vadim Gorbatov, Keith Brockie. Other contemporaries, I met on the social media are, Tony Pridham, John Mullane, John Perry Baumlin, Tim Wootton, Chris Rose, Aaron Blaise to name a few. And of course, my good friend Szabolcs Kokay !
|Siberian Eagle Owl|
Social media is a necessary evil. How is social media playing a part in your art and your artistic journey?
I wouldn`t claim that I`m particularly active on social media except on Facebook where I regularly share my works. I have to confess that since I joined this virtual world, have come across works of many brilliant artists from all over the world. Meeting many like-minded people and have landed with several commissions works. After thought is, it is time consuming however worth the effort.
May I know your views on need for a society for nature artists and what can be achieved through such community for artists?
This would be a fantastic idea and already exists has an institution in United Kingdom or in the United States of America for example, but it seems to be a future dream for countries like Germany where I live. Social media could support such contacts between artists, exchanging thoughts, ideas, coming up with suggestions and promoting wildlife art as an art form. The growth of such a community could lead to more recognition and appreciation for the creators of this art form. But there is much to be discussed about it, yet. (We have one such organisation in India too, Artists for Wildlife and Nature since 2017)
|Montagu Harrier Male|
Your top five tips to becoming a good wildlife artist?
My first tip is to become an accomplished artist, artists need to masters proportions, anatomy, perspective, light and shadow.
My second tip is to try to work as much as you can from life. The experience and knowledge you are going to gain has no substitute. In case you not allowed to go outdoors, watch nature documentaries and make movement studies. I found this equally valuable.
My third tip is to follow, observe, and study work from master artists not solely wildlife artists. There is so much to learn from the way other artists work.
My fourth tip is to be patient, work methodically and don`t believe that improvement can happen in a day. No one is a born master!
My fifth tip is , never be pleased with your work, we are able to get better and better as long we live. And this is what fascinates me and why as an artist will never get bored. I compare this process in the past with opening a door which guides us to a room where more closed doors which are awaiting to be explored.
|Snowy Owl Pen Study|
Here is a Siberian Tiger portrait Gouache painting start to finish from his YouTube channel:
It is such an honor interacting with you Paschalis, I would like to thank you kindly for taking time out to patiently answer to all my queries! It was both informative and inspiring interacting with you.
Wishing you great health and success for your upcoming projects.
You may check his artworks on his blogspot : https://dougalis-wildlifeart.blogspot.com
Follow his Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/paschalis.dougalis
Subscribe to his YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/pdougalis
We'll be back again with another interview soon!
Until then, watch-out for artworks and discussions on our Facebook group! Artists for Wildlife and Nature!