Fiely: The Journey continues

Editor’s note: This feature first published in print in 2007-08 as the cover artist. At the bottom, the print feature is available for viewing with all artworks.

“Fall Clothesline”

     The chugging of presses and linotypes play a rhythmical song, barely covering the loud ringing of phones and voices raise in heated discussions of what to print in the upcoming edition. With fond memories, Doug Fiely remembers the Evening Leader in St. Mary’s Ohio well. After all, it was a family affair, not prone to easily forget.

     “I would often watch my Dad proof read sections of lead type hand cranked on the Vandercook press; from reverse to readable. I was mesmerized!” Doug recalls. He admits to being hooked on the process as well as the odor of the oil based ink, a bygone era in the newspaper business, but alive and well in intaglio and woodblock artist’s studios worldwide.

     An instructor at Defiance College, Fiely’s forte as a professional printmaker falls short, considering his long list of media skills. However, as with “Lady Blue With Hat” exhibited on the Cover, the technique harkens back to printmaking processes involving manipulation of surface. He received his Master of Arts degree in Printmaking in 1975 and has used much of this knowledge in limiting hesitation when approaching painting and ceramics.

     “Lady Blue With Hat” is a reaction of Doug Fiely and his ever-increasing gift of creativity using form after form of media, not settling on any one, but seemingly mastering all.

     Modeling paste applied to the canvas using a metal straightedge as a sort of trowel, defines lines that take on curves by the artist as he carves into the paste. Never cleaning brushes or using prepared drawings; Fiely invites accidents to occur during his process. “Paint is not predictable for me and doors continue to open. In this particular piece, the canvas was complete in one three hour setting. The medium and the emotion fell into place.”

     Doug Fiely grew up on Grand Lake St. Marys, Ohio in Northwood where cottages, wooden boats and even a lighthouse dotted the lake and channels. Searching and exploring untamed wooded areas were a great melting pot of imaginative sources, which would rise to his conscience later in life.

     Experiencing the ‘British Invasion’ in music during his teen years furthered his involvement of wanting to be creative in music and writing, even belonging to a rock and roll band for a time.

     Another memory that stuck in Doug’s mind during his youth was the awesome tall ceilings and cavernous halls of the Immaculate Conception School in Celina, Ohio, where he attended. He studied the carvings and paintings of the Catholic ancestors and watched intently as the interior of the church was remodeled, the art telling a story of its own.

     Ready to explore and expand his knowledge for more modes of creativity, Fiely signed on as an art major at Bowling Green State University after high school, but found that he was alone in not understanding the fundamentals and basics of art. “I quickly realized that success would involve not only tapping into my wealth of life’s images but also simple persevering.

     By my sophomore year, I won a second place in the student art exhibit with an intaglio print called “Guard at the Gate.” This award gave me the confidence I needed and printmaking became my passion.”

     Fiely met and became close to a professor at BGSU, David Cayton, “a fine teacher, superb artist and human being,” expressed Doug. After several visits to Professor Cayton’s home and studio, Doug realized that it was possible to work in a variety of media.

     Cayton not only produced award-winning prints, but he was an excellent potter and painter. “During the summer of 2000, I worked daily with Cayton in his studio mixing glazes and eventually making pots and bowls. It was during that summer that I created my first ceramic pieces applying a printmaker’s approach to the surface decoration of ‘humped’ bowls.”

     “Confrontational Penguin” is the result of Doug’s teaching ability. He taught in the public school system during the 1970s, often taking groups to Cayton’s studio for a clay demonstration.

     “Years ago when I was a public school art teacher, I began teaching fifth graders how to combine two-pinch pots and to make various animals by manipulating the sort of egg shape that resulted. I did a few demos and these penguins emerged.” When raku-fired; the glaze has only been applied to the white area. The black is the charred clay body from the process.

     In 2001, Defiance College colleague, Steve Smith invited Doug to an international ceramics workshop in Wooster, Ohio. Together, they have formed a collaborative work with ceramics. “Carved Bowl” is one example of the variety of vases, bowls and large platters created by the two artists. “He throws the piece and I carve it,” said Doug. “When the piece is leather hard, I go at it without a drawing or a plan, simply playing off shape and contrast.”

     The piece shown is simple and direct, but emphasizing a repetitive pattern. Others are elaborate and more complex. “Potted plants on a Chair” was created one evening as Fiely’s eye caught the evening light as it covered the simplest of objects, a ceramic pot with cut plants inside sitting on an old chair.

     Once again, “Fall Clothesline” brings out the Printmaker in Doug. “I began noticing the shape of cloths hanging on a line; an interesting combination of a straight line and the more free forms of clothing. The gray blue sky encompasses most of the canvas, and emphasizes the shapes of the clothes on the line.”

     The century old brick building with its smells of smoke and ink, its creaking steps to the third floor, once active with those bygone printing machines, the sounds of the ringing telephones, the voices proclaiming “it’s for you,” the newsroom typewriters being pounded away on the oak desks, and the newswire teletypes clanging out updated national news, all merging together, have faded with the past, but the footprints still remains outlined in this artist, painter, printmaker and educator’s mind.

"Knowledge that comes from learning must be farmed and continously tilled to provide the birth of fuels to power oneself to block the minds of mediocrity in order to thrust open the doors of opportunity." Ben Rayman

     “What are we gonna print? What are we gonna axe? Is this not the way of artistic decisions? Perhaps all decisions in life are a matter of simple choice. Do we paint over it or let it be? Scrape it away or let it emerge?”

     Today, Doug Fiely divides his time among teaching, exhibiting his work at the many art festivals throughout the Midwest, creating new works in his home studio and running his Leaning Pine Gallery in rural Stryker, Ohio.

By Kate Garton

Full print feature download: V20N32008-09Fall-Winter:

Portrait of an artist-educator-Doug Fiely

Published by on April 2011. Filed under Archives, Art-to-Art Palette Journal, Bugle Section, Cover Section, Educator's Row. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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