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Wildlife art today seems to be captured in the lenses of cameras rather than on the canvases of an artist masterpiece. An artist that has kept this once affluent depiction of wildlife alive is Douglas Allen. With his love for wildlife, his technical excellence and his ability to bring the animal or landscape to life on the canvas has helped to put him at the forefront of wildlife art.
Douglas Allen was born on March 18, 1935 in Jersey City, New Jersey. This is where his career as an artist began at the age of six. He began by copying the works of the artist that he enjoyed at that moment. This interest in fine art came from his father, Douglas Allen, Sr., who was a collector and writer of the works of Frederic Remington. One of the books that sparked the interest in the artist that he now collects, and has even written a book with his father, was The Boy’s King Arthur, which was illustrated by N. C. Wyeth. This led to his love for fine art and illustration as well as his appreciation for the great works of those who came before him.
After exploring art and doing work himself as a young child, he began going to the Ford School of Art in Jersey City in 1945. He kept taking classes there until 1950. Three years later he began his further exploration of art as well as honing his skills at the Newark School of Fine and Industrial Arts from 1953 until 1956. He studied under
W.J. Aylward, a pupil of Howard Pyle, as well as John Grabach and Charles Waterhouse. Douglas Allen later studied privately with Paul Bransom (Dean of American Wildlife Artists) at his summer school in Jackson Hole, Wyoming
At the beginning of his wildlife career many of his illustrations were reproduced in a series of sporting and adventure magazines published by Weider Publishing Company. Later,Allen’s work was featured in Outdoor Life, Sports Afield
and in the Reader’s Digest. Then in 1961 he illustrated two books on big game animals as well as hunting. He illustrated Jack O’Connor’s The Big Game Animals of North America, which originally began as a series in a magazine but due to its great popularity was later published as a book. He also illustrated Clyde Ormond’s The Complete Book of Hunting. These are the two most popular books that Douglas Allen illustrated but he has illustrations in over thirty-five books and many magazines.
Douglas Allen took part in twelve one man exhibitions from the years of 1961 to 1990 stretching from coast to coast in cities such as New York City to San Francisco. This does not include his numerous group exhibitions that he took part in throughout the years.
One of the great honors that Douglas Allen has received was to have his stamp design issued in 1964 by the United States Post Office Department. The design was to commemorate the Tercentenary Founding of the State of New Jersey.
Not only is Douglas Allen an artist but he has also written a book with his father about his favorite artist, N.C. Wyeth. The book is titled N.C. Wyeth – The Collected Illustrations, Paintings and Murals. There have been over 100,000 copies sold to date. Included in the book is also a bibliography containing all of the books, magazines, posters and calendars that N.C. Wyeth illustrated. Since writing this book Douglas Allen has written behind the scenes for the magazine Sports Afield after being appointed as an art consultant.
What separates Douglas Allen from other wildlife artists is not only his incredible ability to bring a canvas to life or his technical excellence, it is his love and knowledge for wildlife that makes him so successful. Just stepping into his studio one can tell how much he loves and studies all the animals that he puts on canvas. Magazines, books, paintings, sketches, photographs and big game heads fill the studio with an abundance of resources that help to make the paintings what they are, spectacular. Not only does Douglas Allen study these animals from the countless pages that fill his studio, he goes and sees these animals in their natural habitat. Every year he goes out to Wyoming or the
Canadian Rockies to paint and photograph the scenery, the animals and just the natural beauty of the West. This love for what he does comes out in every single painting from the black and white pen and ink drawings he has given his grandchildren over the years to the magnificent paintings that have rested in exhibitions all over the United States.