When Louise Duggins was a child during the depression, there weren’t video games and multiple TV channels for entertainment. Her favorite toys? A crayon and a piece of paper.
“My mother would stick a crayon in my hand, and I would be happy. I always thanked her for being so supportive of my interest in art. She finally said to me when I was an adult, ‘I gave you a crayon to keep you occupied! You would have been everywhere!’” laughed Louise.
The crayon did far more than keep her occupied. She quickly gained a reputation as a good drawer, and her siblings and school chums called upon her to help them with their maps and art projects. She continued to draw for her own amusement through college and years following, but it wasn’t until her last child was in high school that she thought of taking lessons.
“My husband, Mike, and I saw a gallery show of watercolors, and I fell in love with them,” she said. “I knew this was my medium.” She began taking lessons and was blessed, she said, with the best teachers: Richardson’s own Bud Biggs, Naomi Brotherton, Ed Whitney from New York, and Ray Froman, who conducted critique classes. She also read art books voraciously written by artists she respected.
“My husband, Mike, and I saw a gallery show of watercolors, and I fell in love with them. I knew this was my medium.”
She finally went back to school at Richland College, taking art appreciation, art history and figure drawing. “I had jumped into watercolor without going through the proper order of things: drawing, acrylic, oils, then watercolor. I did it backwards.”
The order of her training, however, didn’t seem to matter. One day a gentleman came to buy a boat that she and her husband were selling, and she opened the door in a smock covered with paint. After buying the boat, he asked to see her paintings and was overwhelmed. He happened to be manager at Exchange Park and immediately offered her a one-woman show there.
Her pre-show butterflies were unnecessary – she sold almost all of 40 paintings in that first exhibition. She and her husband have traveled extensively, and many of her paintings then and in years to come reflect scenes from other countries, including her favorite, Italy. To date, she has sold over 1,000 paintings, many of which were commissions now hanging in collections worldwide.
“Children’s Medical Center asked me to paint cheerful scenes on the doors of pediatric emergency. I offered, instead, to do an entire mural. It was a circus theme with clowns, a lion – and balloons!”
Her favorite commission, however, she charged nothing for. “Children’s Medical Center asked me to paint cheerful scenes on the doors of pediatric emergency. I offered, instead, to do an entire mural for pediatric emergency and entry areas, plus examinations rooms. It was a circus theme with clowns, a lion – and balloons! It took a year, it was a lot of fun, and I loved, loved doing it!”
After it was completed, the doctors said that the children were no longer scared and were much calmer during examinations – and that’s not hard to understand. Although different from the nature settings and charming street scenes she has painted through the years, the circus mural carried a theme found through all of her work: joy.
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