Doug Crook

Doug Crook is our Featured artists for our July 7th, 2017 Art Fair. We asked Doug a few questions regarding his artwork and artistic practice, find the questions and answers below. At the bottom of this blog page there will be an examples of Doug's work. Come out to the Art Fair on July 7th to see more. 

Doug Crook is a retired banker whose career included postings in the U.K., U.S.A. and Canada.  His formal education was in the field of business (B Comm. 1968, University of Manitoba) but he has drawn and painted since early childhood. His travels have given him an appreciation for a wide range of artwork.

Since retiring, Doug has been able to devote his energy to his lifelong passion for drawing and painting.  His wife, Debbie Smith, is a native of Antigonish and the couple has a home at Ballantynes Cove, Cape George where they spend their summers.  The local landscape and culture provide an endless source of inspiration for his art.

Working in acrylics, Doug is especially interested in capturing the coastal experience on canvas.  He is known for his colourful landscapes and maritime paintings, as well as figurative work and pet portraits.  Commissions on subjects of interest are accepted.


1) What age did you start painting and how has your artistic style changed since then?

I have been painting and drawing for as long as I can remember. Some of my earliest memories as a child are of laying on my parents' kitchen floor drawing and colouring elaborate panoramic scenes on letter paper that I had taped together into pieces three or four feet long. I got my first set of "real" art supplies, an oil painting set, as a Christmas gift at age 12. My earliest efforts were pictures of animals and people, as I found landscapes less interesting and had a hard time doing realistic trees.  Today the emphasis is reversed, as I now do more landscapes and coastal scenes. The East Coast experience, being surrounded by boats and the ocean, has also been a major influence as I enjoy painting pictures of boats of all kinds.

2) When did you know you wanted to be an artist?

Probably when I got those oil paints. That desire was reinforced by all the positive feedback I received after completing my first "commissioned" piece...a large scale nativity scene that I was asked to paint on the windows by the entrance to my Junior High School in Grade VII.

3) Did you ever study art academically if yes or no how did this transform your art?

I've had no formal training to speak of, aside from a half dozen evening drawing classes that I attended in my early forties at the University of Calgary, and a half day workshop on folk art painting around the same time. When I graduated from High School I didn't know anyone who made a living from art and wanted to study something that would get me a job, so I put aside my artistic ambitions and enrolled in the Commerce program at the University of Manitoba. That led me into a rewarding 35+ year career with RBC Royal Bank, followed by another nine years at Canadian Western Bank.  But I always knew that once I retired, art would again become a big part of my life.

Most of my art "training" has come from books, online reading, visits to museums and galleries, and trial and error.

4) How long have you lived in Nova Scotia? And how has this province shaped your art?

My wife, Debbie, is a native of Antigonish and I have been coming here regularly with her since shortly after we met in 2003. We bought land in Ballantynes Cove at Cape George several years ago and built our home there in 2013, soon after I retired from banking. We usually spend about five months of the year here, arriving in May or June and staying until late October.

The beauty of the province with its picturesque towns and villages, the character of its people and the entire coastal experience have had a tremendous influence on this boy from the Prairies. In fact, they have been the dominant influence and source of subject matter for my recent work.

5) What advice would you give to emerging artists?

Paint what you are passionate about, experiment with different materials, composition, styles and subjects. Don't worry about making mistakes. I learned these things from my own experience because when I was painting and working at a full-time day job, I always felt I had to make the most of my painting time and often was not willing to take risks. Since retiring and having the luxury and time to devote to making art, I believe my work has gotten much better.

6) Who or what influenced your style of painting?

I am always looking at different art and I'm attracted to many different styles. As a child I would bring home piles of books from the library, mostly on Renaissance and other early artists. When I lived in London, England I visited numerous museums there as well as in Europe and became exposed to artist like the French Impressionists and Van Gogh. When I returned to Canada in the Eighties I learned about the Group of Seven and fell in love with their work. My artistic hero is the late Robert Genn, a Canadian landscape artist who passed away a few years ago. His work displays a certain Group of Seven influence but has a style all of its own. His artist daughter, Sarah Genn, is continuing his legacy by reproducing entries from his twice weekly blog called "The Painter's Keys" and adding first class blog entries of her own. Their art and writings are probably the biggest single influence on my own work.