Interview: Bob Doucette


Name: Bob Doucette

Where do you live: Pasadena, California, United States.

Known for: Art & Design.

Currently working with: Painting.

When did you realize that you were going to work with this:
Since I was a child I knew I would always be an artist.

If you could choose one place only to live, where would that be and why?
I want to live wherever I can be loved and appreciated and make art and be surrounded by culture to inspire me. I have traveled extensively through Europe and Asia but I could never settle on just one place because I want to be part of the whole world.

How would you describe your design/work:
I am a Pop Surrealist painter.

How and when did you start to work with this in a serious manner?
I focused on my current style starting in 2008.

What do you do at the moment?
After 25 years in animation I quit working last year so that I can devote my full time to painting.

A recommendation for those who think about starting and running a creative business?
Be passionate, work hard and have no back-up plan.

Tell us how it all started.
Since I was a child I knew I was an artist. My Dad taught me and my four siblings to draw when we were very young, but I was the only one who could not live without it. I had to create or die. I was not good at anything else I was a total disaster at sports and making friends so when I discovered drawing I stuck with it. Soon after I was sculpting and painting. When I was ten years old a neighbor came over, I was busy sculpting something in clay, she asked “Do you want to be an artist when you grow up?” and I answered her “I am an artist!”. I never think of being an artist as having anything to do with earning a living or being defined as one by society. I identify myself as an artist as much as I identify myself as being human.

What is your favorite film?
I have so many, as a child I loved THE WIZARD OF OZ but right now I am very much in love with THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL. I love directors who are auteurs and really are the stars of their films to name a few: Alfred Hitchcock, Terry Gilliam, Woody Allen, Tim Burton, Baz Lurhman, Cohen Brothers and Wes Andersen.

Who would you like to invite for a dinner and why?
I would love to have dinner with Judy Garland because she would certainly entertain us and make me laugh!

How do you like to spoil yourself?
Buying vintage toys on EBAY!

What is luxury for you?
Staying in a grand hotel in a beautiful European city that has tons of museums and great food!

What is the nicest compliment you’ve received for your design/work, and from whom?
I find it is human nature to only remember the negative critiques and instantly forget the compliments but I know that it means a lot to me when other artist like and appreciate my work because they know the struggle it takes to create it.

What do you fear most?
I believe that if you spend anytime contemplating what you fear you will draw it to yourself.

What is a happy life to you?
Growing old with my husband and pets, making art, selling it, and being surrounded by good friends.

What does a regular day look like for you?
I am very regular in my habits as it is the only way I can get done all the plans I have for myself. I wake up at six am and feed the cats and then go to the YMCA to swim for 20 minutes. I come home and have breakfast, shower, dress and catch up on emails. Sometimes I do some sketching or collect reference from the internet then at 9 am I go out to my studio (in my backyard) and paint. I try and have all the prep work done before I go out so that I have my prime morning hours for painting when I am freshest. At 12:30 I come in and eat lunch and rest for awhile one or two hours depending on how my morning went. After that I paint for as long as I can until I get too tired to focus. I don’t believe you should paint unless you are focused and present or you spend the next day re-doing all the bad stuff you did when you were tired!

I go in and rest and watch a little TV, play with my cats and then have dinner with my husband when he comes home from work. After dinner we both go out to the studio and work for a while – if we are busy we can be there as late as 9 pm but I have to stop by then or my morning will be ruined the next day. Night time work is more laid back, like varnishing or cleaning or research and sketching or if something is really bugging me about the painting I’m working on I might go and fix it! Then I completely veg out, watch TV, drink wine, or read if I have the energy! It wouldn’t work for everyone but it makes me very happy to follow my schedule! I always work less on the weekends and try and go out and see the world!

Tell us about your dream project.
My dream project would incorporate all the disciplines I love put together, from puppets, theater, painting, sculpting and performing as well as film-making.

Who is your favorite designer?
I have had so many influences in my life that it is hard to put it in a nutshell but I will try to describe some of the more pertinent ones. I was a bit of an art geek when I was a child and I would spend hours studying the encyclopedia labeled “P” because it had a whole section on painters and this is how I got my first taste of art history. I was really into Da Vinci, Vermeer, Toulouse Lautrec and the German Expressionist. I grew up before the era of internet and videos so I had to rely on books to inspire me.

But I also was hooked on movies and TV. Any place that would take me away and bring fantasy and imagination into play was home for me. My idols from my childhood were; Dr. Seuss, Walt Disney & Jim Henson so I spent many years drawing cartoons and making puppets. When I was younger I worked as a set and customer designer in theater, as a puppet designer and performer and more recently I have been working in animation but in 2008 I decided that I needed to focus more seriously on my painting. When I saw Mark Ryden’s artwork the first time I wanted to cry. He was doing what I wanted to do in such a beautiful and meaningful way that I knew I had to be part of the whole Pop Surrealism movement. As I discovered other artist of this ilk I felt like I could contribute to this movement.

How would you describe your style?
POP SURREALISM: I follow one of the original precepts of surrealism and paint what I dream. I have vivid dreams where I mesh together disparate images to create ironic metaphors and I try to capture that in my paintings. I also identify with the POP side because there are lots of cultural references that I try to bring into my work. I love the juxtaposition of historical religious art with the common place cartoony style. On a personal side, I always wanted dolls when I was a child, but was denied them. So dolls have become an obsession for me and are very prevalent in my paintings as well as being inspired by the original BIG EYE painting movement from the 60’s and 70’s. I have meanings for everything in my paintings but I prefer the viewer to create their own interpretation. My favorite art lifts me up and transports me to different worlds. I hope to do the same for my viewers. I have lots of faces in my paintings but I attempt to make them enigmatic so the audience can put their own interpretation on them. I believe that 50% of art should be what the audience assigns to it. Art does not come alive until it has a viewer.

Which is the one thing you can’t live without?
My husband.

What inspires you?
My husband. He indulges my whims and is a co-conspirator on our fairy-tale artistic adventure we call life!

A book that has changed/made the most impression in your life?
YOUR HEART’S DESIRE: Instruction for Creating the Life You Really Want by Sonia Choquette.

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