There’s a raft of richly descriptive words that single out a Doug Hyde work of contemporary art, from warm and inviting through to fun and frivolous. Yet there’s without doubt one common thread that runs through the narrative of pretty much every piece, and that’s an all-enveloping sense of togetherness, and of ultimate belonging. Indeed, it’s this feeling of a universal family that touched Hyde as a youngster, and a never understated importance of a tight-knit, embracing family unit as you head through those formative years, which are etched deep beneath the story-telling pastels that charmingly give life and perspective to his every piece.
Joyfully recalling a stable, loving family life back home in Bristol in the 1970s, Hyde also cites his elder sibling’s disability as a factor in his art, and one of the reasons he possesses and exudes such an optimistic outlook, through both his being and his richly textured, eternal sunnily dispositional art. It was Hyde’s involvement with disabled youngsters as he was growing up that afforded him a wonderful understanding of how those perceived by elements of our society to be less fortunate not only cope, but prosper and develop, and most precious of all, project such a magnanimous attitude as they make their way in a judgemental world.
Born in 1972, Hyde was left in no uncertain terms by his school careers advisors, that art was merely something people did in their spare time, and that him suggesting that he wanted to be an artist on leaving school to be bordering on lunacy. Undeterred by this lack of support, or as was more the case, knowledge, Hyde didn’t loose sight of who he wanted to be, and what he wanted to do as he forged his way in life. And he knew for a fact that this had to be played out in a creative industry.
After leaving school Hyde secured a role in a draughtsman’s office, and it wasn’t long before he had enrolled on a college course in technical illustration to further his fledgling interest. Conversely however, it wasn’t long before he began to feel constrained within this very technical field and foresaw that he needed to broaden his artistic horizons were he to fulfil his ambitions and more expressive potential.
So Hyde took it upon himself to indulge his more creative callings by completing works of commissioned art for family and friends outside of work hours, and quickly garnering a large amount of interest for this his bespoke pieces, resulting in being asked to exhibit at a more regional level in a relatively short space of time.
Hyde elects to administer his pastels with fingers, thumbs, wrists or any other feasible limb, inferring that this process allows him to communicate the piece in a more liberal fashion. His default canvas is notably a large example, giving him the access and freedom pre-requisitional to extract the most dramatic elements of the art itself, and works in a way that he hopes will engage with people, and to ultimately question the why, what, when and where in his considered individual studies.
Hyde visually imagines what the wall and the room will appear like, how it’s furnished, how the light will temper it, in direct relation to the piece he will paint, which he cites as being key to making the art work. It’s a methodology that’s served him well for over 10 years now and the starting point for any given piece. Hyde also will record every possible, fleeting thought he has, in terms of a future study, then and there. There’s a box in his studio that’s said to overflow with scribbled ideas and concepts on everything from newspaper cuttings to napkins; all documenting an original stream of conscious, and which will form the nucleus for a future work.
In 2005, Doug Hyde was awarded the prestigious Fine Art Trade Guild, Best Selling Published Artist accolade, and is widely acknowledged to be the most popular contemporary living artists in Britain and beyond today. Hyde is also known for his fund-raising efforts, via his original art sales, for two charitable organisations which remain very close to his heart; namely ‘Look Good…Feel Better’ and ‘Families For Children’.