Our relationships have a powerful impact on our lives. For Glyndon, Minnesota artist Doug Stuckle a challenge from his sister resulted in a 20-year art career.
“I was tearing down an old barn, and I had a piece of wood I thought would be kind of neat to have a picture painted on. Then my sister came to see me, and she brought acrylic paints with her and told me to paint my own picture. So I did. And I liked it.“
Since that initial barn wood painting, Doug has taught himself to paint from magazines, books, and videos. Now an accomplished painter, he works primarily with oils. A former farmer who also did custom farming and construction, Doug has spent most of his life working outside. It is, therefore, no surprise that most of his pieces celebrate the outdoors with powerful renderings of the people, wildlife, and landscapes of the upper Midwest. However, Doug’s work is not just a simple reflection of what he sees around him, but rather an exploration of people’s relationship with place.
“It’s amazing to me. Lots of times I can tell where people are from by what they are attracted to. Someone comes along and it really hits home and reminds them of growing up, or a barn they used to play in on grandpa’s farm. Emotion and understanding is so strongly tied to place.”
To illustrate this, Doug refers to his painting “Modern Buffalo” an arresting image of a buffalo walking down the main highway.
“People think my work doesn’t have a message, and it usually does. People like to go to Medora to see the buffalo roaming ‘free’,” he explains. “They are in a big cage, and they might be removed to keep the population in check or if they get too aggressive. Everything about them is controlled. They aren’t free at all. And there was the purposeful extermination of buffalo to remove the Native American’s food source and make them easier to control. There is all this history, and I saw this buffalo walking down the highway alone, and I thought it was so ironic. Most people don’t get that. For them, it is just a buffalo. They aren’t tied to the history. But some do.”
When you walk into Gallery 4 in Downtown Fargo, where Doug has his original oils on display, customers are drawn by the way the wildlife interact in nature. Whether it’s a pause, a look, or a flutter, an engagement is made with his fine art.
While Doug’s paintings are an exploration of the relationship between people, the land, and its history, he also credits the relationship he has with his partner of long-standing, Shelli Fenske, for their quality and depth.
“Shelli has been the reason I have persisted with painting, otherwise I would have given up. She is trained in art and has helped me with everything from subject, to contrast, to color. Especially color. I am color blind to the color green, and Shelli has helped me be aware of it and work toward overcoming it. When she helps me correct what I am doing wrong, instead of being discouraged, I feel anxious to start my next project and I have the confidence to proceed. It is like having my own personal mentor at my beck and call!”
Now an award-winning artist, for him painting isn’t about acknowledgment, but the intersection of all those connections. Telling stories in a language of dramatic shadows, interesting highlights, and realism, each of Doug’s canvases is a relationship just waiting for the right viewer to connect.