The designs find their way to the Homespun Holiday sale at Jefferson Arts



Artist Dan Duggar rents a studio from the Jefferson Arts Gallery. While he mainly worked in pencil drawings during his 72 years, he now turns to oil painting 5-6 days a week. He subscribes to the belief that you need to put 10,000 hours of practice into anything you want to master.

Duggar has had a natural gift for drawing since he was a young boy. Although his life and work often puts art on the back burner, he looks forward to devoting himself to becoming an artist and making an impact in Jefferson County again. He wants to start with the “Homespun Holiday Ornament Show and Sale,” a free gallery event that runs now through January 5th.

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“I always admire parents who put kids in art classes, provide them with what they need and support them through it all,” says Duggar. “My goal is to help the Jefferson Arts Gallery become better known with, hopefully, a way to reach children. I think it’s very important that kids who have an innate talent have an outlet to develop it.

Duggar describes the house he was born into as a “two-room cabin” with no running water in the coal fields of Kentucky. His parents were from the time of the Depression and believed in getting a good education above all else. However, he said that didn’t stop his mother from providing him with paper, pencil and her unwavering support.

Art on hold

While art was not at the top of his parents’ list of ideal professions, Duggar’s drawing skills caught the attention of his teachers as early as he was in first grade. At the age of 8, Duggar turned to artist John Gnagy – “the original television art teacher” – to learn perspective, composition, and value. In high school, Duggar’s art appeared in two national magazines.

While Duggar was preparing to attend art school, the Vietnam War drafted him into the military in 1967.

“It made a dent in the artistic career for a while,” remarks Duggar, who followed his service with 30 years of rodeo and contemporary cowboy work in Texas. “I decided 15 years ago that I was going to devote myself to art again.

For his drawing "Reflect," Dan Duggar took a photo of a cowboy colleague working in the field.

It was only natural that the topic that emerged on the paper reflected its surroundings in the cattle industry. In pursuit of photorealism, Duggar uses a variety of pencils, mixing stumps and napkins to achieve his highly detailed drawings.

Capture the cowboy lifestyle

The art of the cowboy and the western landscapes continue to captivate his imagination. As timed rodeos have become a patriotic sport, he also wishes to preserve the methods of stringing and handling cattle that a working cowboy knows and performs in the fields. Duggar is proud of his son, a cowboy from Montana, for carrying on these traditions and starring in Western films as an understudy for actors like Nicholas Cage.

“This way of life is disappearing,” says Duggar. “I wanted to record as many as possible for this reason. The real cowboy is a dying way of life.

Duggar usually draws from reference photographs he finds or takes himself. He is always on the lookout for intriguing compositions and aesthetic subjects that have a clear focal point. For his “Ponder” drawing, he took a photo of a cowboy colleague working in the field.

“This particular individual was sitting on his horse and looking at 750 head of cattle,” Duggar recalls. “I went up next to him, took the camera and asked him not to move. I had to look for a lot of balance in this drawing to get the negative space on the horse’s mane. I wanted someone to watch this and know what it feels like to sit on a horse like that.

Mission to strengthen Jefferson Arts

Another drawing titled “Courage and Dignity” could be a photograph for the amount of detail included in the interior. Duggar captured the likeness of a Comanche chief by studying bone structure and focusing his pencil on shading the weathered appearance of his skin given his exposure to the almost constant Texas sun and wind. Duggar says the drawing took over 300 hours.

“I wanted to give it a character that involved pride, anger and a bit of everything,” says Duggar. “I like to bring out a little emotion from the viewer. If art doesn’t touch anyone, you might as well not.

For the “Homespun Holiday” show, he is proud to support his wife, Tamara, who displays and sells his handmade stockings. It was his wife who brought him from Texas to Monticello. Since arriving four years ago, Duggar has vowed to fully immerse himself in the art and find ways to fundraise and further educate his new community.

“No matter what you dedicate to and spend your time on, you can accomplish it,” says Duggar. “I look forward to being a part of the Jefferson Arts Gallery and working with the community. ”

If you are going to

What: Exhibition and sale of homemade holiday ornaments

When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. from Wednesday to Saturday until January 5

Or: Jefferson Arts Gallery, 575 West Washington St., Monticello

Cost: To free

Contact: For more information, call 850-997-3311 or visit

Amanda Sieradzki is the feature film writer for the Council on Culture & Arts. COCA is the umbrella agency for arts and culture in the Capital Region (

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