Born in West Yorkshire in 1953, Douglas Hill has established a name as one of the leading plein air painters in Britain.
His works have been featured in galleries all over the UK, and as far afield as the USA, New Zealand, and Northern Ireland.
He is perhaps most well-known for large beach scenes, and Cornish harbours and towns, having spent much of his life there. He was a member of the St Ives Society of Artists and St Ives Arts Club, and ran his own gallery on St Andrew’s Street for 16 years.
Douglas thrived in a community so sympathetic to artists, he said: “There was a fantastic mixture of art, it is sacred ground for painters because of the past and its history of great artists.”
St Ives played a big part in his success and established his reputation.
It was also where he learnt to paint light in all its different forms.
“Artists really do have to move and not stay too long in one place,” he said.
“Life and painting is a great mystery, and I’ve found Whitby to have a charm and mystery to it. This is some place.”
Douglas only paints in oils.
His application ranges from soft, smudgy impressionistic to high key colour.
Being completely self taught, Douglas has never had a lesson in painting.
“Nature is my teacher – now more than ever.
“My first reference was Rembrandt and I looked at his technique in the beginning. Because of his life and how he lived I had an empathy with him.
“His vulnerability, he had everything and losing it all gave him a great love and humility which comes through in his work.”
The other artist that Douglas loves is Lowry.
“I lived in a one up one down in West Yorkshire and relate to the industrial landscapes of Lowry”.
Working as an artist is a solitary life and Douglas counters this challenge by focusing on change and personal development.
“I am still developing colour, whether tonally or in high key palette which I love, but I also love the greys as well.”
“Painting coastal scenes is a reversion back to your childhood. There is an innocence and humour and great beauty about it.
“There is something about being on the beach where I feel at home.”
Looking at Douglas’s landscapes it is impossible not think that his style has been honed by one of the great art academies of Paris.
There is a subtlety and range of colour that crosses from smokey greys and blues to primary pops of colour that sing with a cheerful nostalgia sympathetic to his style, which is unique yet accessible.
His large canvases of Cornwall were stylish depictions of the English Riviera which cemented his reputation. Warm, sunny and with ultramarine blues they sing with the joys of an English summer. Stylish and evocative, painted with a love that echoed his childhood memories.
Since being in Whitby his colour palette has adapted to the change in light. Whether its our summer, autumnal or winter light. Symphonies of greys and blues capture the early evening duskof winter and this transforms the architecture and people he paints.
“I paint the evening light, street lights which make the town look mystical and magical. You can put a lot of colour into your work.
“The great mystery of adventure is you set up and don’t know whats going to happen.” Fusing lilacs and soft yellows he makes the town look familiar but other worldly.
“There is a great mystery and joy to go out and paint.
“What inspires me most is the contact and relationship of the people, the town the harbour, beaches, streets and the beach. We’ve got beach in twice here.”
His interpretation involves story telling.
A purpose and reason for being there, looking and depicting what surrounds us.
“The human element creates a story. Painting should have a narrative.”
Douglas produces vignettes of everyday life, whether its a solitary figure wandering around town in the dusk or a beach scene filled with umbrellas and windbreaks the essence, colour and light is on point and evocative. All of which makes for beautiful art.