Doug Hall: An Artist’s Roots
By Savanah Mandeville
Doug Hall’s recognizable oil paintings depict the lives of 18th-century Eastern Woodland Native Americans, but on closer inspection, they reveal the artist as a human being, what ties him to the stunning natural landscapes of his work, and what bonds his extended family – the people of the Four-State Area.
“My family roots are in Neosho,” he said. “My great-grandfather homesteaded the section of ground where my gallery now sits.”
Doug Hall’s Log Cabin Gallery, located just outside Neosho at 19314 MO 59, serves as a gallery, a shop for his fine art prints, and a gathering place of friends and family.
Hall puts his heart and soul into his work, and his passion has been recognized nationwide. His finely crafted paintings have been part of several prestigious museum auctions including the Buffalo Bill Art Show and Sale in Cody, Wyoming, the C.M. Russell Museum in Great Falls, Montana, and the Brinton Museum in Big Horn, Wyoming.
But like the rivers and creeks that snake through the area, Hall’s path to success was not a straight line. In fact, when life gave Hall lemons, his artwork is the lemonade that came out on the other side.
“I had another cabin in the same location that I’d opened in 1987. I had some art hanging in it, but its main purpose was a hunting goods store,” he said. “But in 2001, a tornado hit and blew it away. That’s when I decided to try to paint full time. I’d had some success as a painter that came along more or less accidentally, but that little bit of success encouraged me to go for it.”
One could say the rest is history, but the story really begins with Hall as an eight-year-old boy and a plate of donuts.
His mother had signed him and his brother up for art classes at the Neosho Public Library. Hall fondly remembers those art classes, not for the painting lessons, but for the plate of donuts that always got passed around.
“That first art class was the first time I ever had a donut. I’d never seen a donut before,” he said with a laugh. “Those chocolate donuts were the driving force, but somehow the painting grabbed hold of me along the way.”
That year, he sold his first painting to a young couple at Big Spring Park for $2.50. From then on, he was hooked.
At 19, Hall got a job at Lohman Game Call Company painting nature scenes on duck and goose calls, which became wildly popular. He continued to fine-tune his skill over the course of several years, painting with renowned local artist Bob Tommey. Tommey owned ArtCentral in Carthage and would charge people $5 to paint with him on Friday nights.
“Bob Tommey changed my life,” he said. “He showed me the proper way to mix colors, how to paint sunlight – I wouldn’t be where I am without him.”
Even though Hall lost his cabin, friends continued to gather on that plot of land on Sundays to shoot black-powder rifles as they always had. The tradition remains to this day.
“We open at noon every Sunday and we shoot at 3:00. We get people coming and going of all ages, from 10 to 87.”
Eventually, Hall made up his mind to build a new log cabin, and with help from his friends, Doug Hall’s Log Cabin Gallery opened for business in fall 2015.
This September, the Neosho Public Library held a mural unveiling for Hall’s piece entitled, “Neosho Big Spring Bluff.” Hundreds came out to celebrate the stunning, large-scale work depicting Big Spring Park as it would’ve appeared in the 1700s when the Osage Indians inhabited the area.
“That mural is like coming full circle,” he said. “It depicts Big Spring Park, the place where I sold my first painting. To be recognized by my community, my home, is such an incredible honor.”
Doug Hall’s prints can be purchased locally at Doug Hall’s Log Cabin Gallery, Cherry’s Art Emporium on the Square, The Colonial House and on his website at www.doughallgallery.com.