About Douglas Blanc
I drew a lot as a kid. Throughout school I filled notebooks and reams of typing paper with pencil drawings inspired by LEGOs, Dungeons & Dragons, comics, and anatomy books. I taught myself life-drawing to improve my comic-book making skills. It wasn't until 1987 when I took an art history class at Antioch college that I began to think about being an artist. I started visiting museums and found new inspiration: Robert Ryman, Helen Frankenthaler, and Cy Twombly. After Antioch I worked as a graphic designer and illustrator, and while attending at California College of Arts and Crafts from 1996-1998, I experimented with many different media. I graduated with a BFA in drawing and an obsession with abstract minimalism. But I never forgot my love of anatomy and illustration.
Living in Oakland from 1998-2016, I began my Laika, Nord, and Phobia series – each of which combines roofing tar, acrylic paint, drawing, and collage. The scale of these pieces was sometimes determined by my studio space (for many years my kitchen table; later a large open studio in West Oakland), and also by my response to current events and personal experiences.
When I moved to the Mojave desert in 2016, these two threads fused in my latest series, Crania. On weekly hikes in desert wilderness areas near my home in Joshua Tree, I find dried, sun-bleached remains of plants and animals. The bones of desert animals are the most beautiful and delicate of artifacts – they tell us stories of life and death. Since I find them in nature preserves, I cannot physically collect them. Instead I photograph them to have a visual reference for sketches and paintings, and then paint them on recycled plywood. Both the bones and the wood find new life. It is a way for me to collect the skulls, the spirit of fellow desert dwellers, without disturbing their remains.