This week’s Dan’s Papers cover, “Sheila’s Roses,” by Doug Zider is a bit unusual in more ways than one. First, it’s dedicated to his wife, Sheila. Second, it’s an image that wasn’t planned. Zider created it while he was waiting for another painting to dry. He was, in essence, killing time. Zider doesn’t really have much time to kill as a rule, working as he does at NBC in New York (he’s a graphic artist) and painting at night and on the weekends. Which all goes to prove that Zider is resourceful, creative, and most certainly a hard worker.
This still life for the cover is a bit different. What are your usual subjects?
Coastal Maine scenes, landscapes.
You are lucky to live by the water in Long Island, so this setting comes naturally to you. I have an idea. You work with digital technology at NBC, so painting nature is a relief for you. How does painting what you do have an influence on your life?
I have been at NBC for 34 years, and I am looking forward to retiring and painting full-time. How long do we have to be a healthy, sane artist? When I paint, I am leaving an insurance policy for my family. I am leaving something out there after I’m gone.
Despite the fact that you really have problems with digital technology, because we have discussed this before and we are both “purists,” what did you learn from working all these years at NBC?
I actually learned drawing before coming to NBC, but I got the best training from the scenic artists at NBC. I loved what we used to do, in the early days. I am taking home memorabilia, like old props and storyboards, and passing them down to my kids. It is important for their legacy.
There are a lot of kids that come to work for NBC. What do you say to the few who are really talented?
I encourage them to see the real deal. To understand what it’s really like in art. To go to a museum during lunch.
What’s your real deal?
To paint the landscape in Maine, taking out the houses. I feel the land will be gone. To see the rock formations there, the never-ending rolling hills. That’s for people who want to stop and look.
How else do you learn about art?
I get into exhibitions, like the upcoming Art League of Long Island. When I do this, I look up the judges to see if my work would appeal to them. It’s also important to get a representative. And don’t stop working, don’t stop producing. Don’t lose that fire.
How do you keep going?
I do commissions, but it ties you up. I work on two to three pieces at one time. On bigger pieces I can’t turn them around so fast. It takes two and one-half weeks to finish them.
What are you looking forward to now?
I am yearning to get out on the water and maybe teaching in the future. Children have not yet been spoiled by the media and older people.
Doug Zider will exhibit at the Art League of Long Island, 107 East Deer Park Road, Dix Hills, March 10–April 14, 631-462-5400, dougzider.com.