Birds Galore & Much More!

Contributed by Douglas Francois Girard

Meet the artist, Douglas Francois Girard, Saturday, June 11th, 1-4PM at the Town Square Art Gallery located in the Carrs Wasilla Mall. The art show includes Douglas's original illustrations of Alaska Birds, Bird Blocks, prints and a few surprises.

He grew up in Africa and finally moved to Alaska in 1993 after attending Art Center College of Design in California. It was here in Alaska that he found landscapes that truly inspired him. In the mountains of the Chugach and Talkeetna ranges, he found those cathedrals of stillness that he had dreamed about as a young child.

His artwork is created from a great love of the many changing moods of nature, the sense of mystery and expectation that is created from ever varying colors and shapes. He is drawn to movement as the expression of the life force. The swirling of mist and cloud or a dancer flying through the air seem to be excellent expressions of this force. A magical moment for him is when clouds move over and envelope the mountains, dissolving rocky peaks and shimmering water into a mysterious apparition. After visiting Italy and France, his creative horizons have expanded. Mysterious hidden gardens, ancient architecture, cypress groves and rising mountain cathedrals have all found their way into his work. "My goal is to make each painting a poem of color, light and form that captures the essence of my inspiration.”

Douglas is perhaps better known for his plein air paintings of the varied Alaska landscape as well as his paintings inspired by Italy and mythology. His landscape paintings have been exhibited in many solo and group shows and can be found in collections worldwide. On his many walks, he has rejoiced in the decorative quality of nature. 

“For many years I have longed to devote more time to decorative work. I believed I could combine my close observations of the world with an imaginative spirit to create unique works of art. I struggled with the idea as it did not seem to fit with my landscape paintings. Finally I hit on a strategy: Landscapes and mythology to be painted in oil paint and decorative work in acrylics. In this way I was able to partition my mind into two different ways of thinking. It may sound strange but it worked.”

In this exhibition of work he explores that different side, a decorative more intimate side. He painted his first bird at a young age: “I created my first "Bird Block" when I was thirteen. I painted a bird-of- paradise with acrylic on paper, glued it to wood and then varnished it. Little did I know then, I would be making many more "Bird Blocks" decades later. I painted a few other birds when I was a teenager, but I was mostly interested in other types of flight; the flying war machines of the world wars. It wasn't until I was married that my wife, Robin, that I opened my eyes to the hidden world around me. I was amazed I had lived for so many years without realizing the beauty of birds that flit in and out of our sight."

The excitement felt when a bird suddenly makes itself known is the same excitement Douglas feels as he watches the clouds rise and enshroud mountain peaks. He feels birds are as fleeting and mysterious as mist and cloud that can quickly appear as a swirling dance of light and just as suddenly disappear. To him birds are symbols of the mysterious, eternal life force and a connection with the spiritual path. 

The act of creating the Celtic/Norse inspired knot-work that you see in some of his work is his way of connecting with this spiritual path. "Now, thanks to my wife, I view birds as highly symbolic, life enriching and the experience of being in their presence as an almost religious event. I hope I can share some of this delight with others that may feel the same way."

Please join the staff at Town Square Art Gallery for a delightful afternoon of art, conversation and refreshments while discovering Douglas Francois Girard's new collection of Bird Blocks and much more. Douglas's art show continues for the entire month of June. For more information, please contact Town Square Art Gallery 907-376-0123, or stop by during gallery hours, Monday-Friday 10-6 and Saturday 10-5.