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Pioneer Profiles: Encouragement from others helped launch Trego's career

It would appear that teachers and older siblings are essential to the development of nascent artists.

As Douglas (Doug) Trego said during a recent phone interview, his third-grade teacher, his three older sisters (Christy, Mary and Melanie) and classmates in high school all encouraged him to go to college and study art. Today Trego is vying for another Best in Show at the 17th annual Elk River International Juried Art Show in February after capturing that prize at the annual Bloomington Member's Show in October.

His juried piece, "Amish Garden Farm" is his first oil painting using stippling (Pointillism) as first used by Neo-Impressionist Georges Seurat. The technique uses small dots of color to produce a whole picture; the more dots, the darker the image or shading, and the fewer dots, the lighter the image or shading. Stippling technique is not new to Trego as his first combined show was in 1999 at the Bemidji Community Arts Center in the Carnegie Library with his nine black ink stippled pieces of antique tools produced with a technical radiograph pen.

"I chose to go to Bemidji State University to study graphic design because of the variety of options offered in 1979," said Trego. "Graphic design is far different today than it was back then, as one had to actually be able to draw an image as computer generated images or programs were elementary. My teachers at that time, Keith Malmquist, Bill Kelly and Dr. Kermit Anderson, gave me the foundation in art, but it was the independent classes with Art Hedlund that were the most memorable training. I did not study painting while at BSU."

After graduation in 1982, Trego fell away from art for a while (1982 to 1993), but his sister Christy said, "Don't let your talent go to waste!" Prompted by his older sibling, Trego started to take a series of one-on-one art classes devoted to developing his fine art skills and to decide what medium he liked the most. His first pieces were in black and white. An art critic then suggested he try color, so he switched to colored acrylic ink and a radiograph pen. One success followed another as Trego won awards at regional shows and then national juried competitions. In 2002, Trego won Best in Show for his stipple ink drawing, "Corner View," at the Hopkins Center for the Arts in Hopkins.

In the fall of 2007, a chance comment by a co-worker led Trego in another direction. He learned of a distant relative who lived and painted in Pennsylvania. His relative, William Trego, was crippled by polio at an early age and used his left hand to guide his crippled right hand, which could hold a paint brush. William Trego went on to be a prolific painter of Civil War battles and soldiers. Doug Trego, in collaboration with a retired professor of history back in Blue Bell, Pa., produced a graphite and black Conte crayon drawing titled "William Trego's Right Hand Holding a Paint Brush." The rendering was used in an exhibit and a publication titled "So Bravely and So Well, The Life and Art of William Trego." An exhibit of William Trego's work was held last year at the James A. Michener Art Museum in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. The website of his work can be seen at

So what does this all have to do with Doug Trego's work today, one might ask. A visit to the farmlands of the Amish in that area is the groundwork for the new series of painting he is working on today.

"I like working in oil -- it is stronger and richer," said Trego. "My pieces now are in oil and farm-country related. If you look at some of my older work, on the net at, you will see that I liked to draw old buildings. The one of the Henningsgaard farmhouse is one of a farm that I watched grow old. I like to think about what happened in the lives of those houses. There is also one of an outhouse."

"Doug is very talented in many different things," said his mother Dana. "He is technically specific, and some of his drawings took 800 hours to complete. At home, we have his 'Old Loafing Shed' over the fireplace."

Home for the Trego family is a farm in Solway where Doug and his six siblings grew up. He now lives in the Twin Cities.

Rachel Daly Flentje, exhibit director of the Bloomington Arts Center, suggested that Trego think of painting a series devoted to farm life in the Amish countryside of Pennsylvania. Trego is working on the second of his series of Amish people in stipple. It is of an older woman facing away and looking to the distance, her face in profile. Trego is looking forward to the day when he can devote all his time to his passion, oil painting in stipple technique.

Doug Trego's mother and father, Clarence and Dana, contributed material for this profile.

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