Internationally Honored Pastel Painter with El Cerrito Roots

Inspiration is everywhere for El Cerrito resident Dug Waggoner, an internationally recognized pastel and watercolor painter.

Internationally recognized pastel painter Dug Waggoner at home in El Cerrito.
Internationally recognized pastel painter Dug Waggoner at home in El Cerrito.

When he’s not in his El Cerrito home studio manipulating light and shadows with pastel strokes, Dug Waggoner, 76, can be found exploring the region's natural areas, looking for his next inspiration.

“Our job as artists are to make people see and notice something else besides the outdoor billboards,” Waggoner, a former advertising designer of 40 years, told Patch.

Perhaps, you’ve seen his 20 foot mural on the side of the Contra Costa Civic Theater, where for the past six years, he’s worked as a scenic artist. Or maybe you’ve noticed his series of trees on display at the El Cerrito City Hall art gallery last fall.

But his work reaches far beyond the Bay Area. Last September, his pastel painting, "Last To Glow 7", was selected for the Pastel Society of America's 41st Annual "Enduring Brilliance" at the National Arts Club in New York City. 

The painting was inspired by an ordinary scene--eucalyptus trees under the power lines up on Moeser Lane in El Cerrito--and transformed into a dream-like apparition. 

“It was an honor just to be selected to be part of this prestigious event,” he said, having started in pastels over ten years ago.

Waggoner graduated with a Bachelors of Fine Art in advertising design from the California College of the Arts during his 20s, but it wasn’t until around 2002 when he started playing more with watercolors and pastels. 

“I had the itch to do something creative on my own," he said, "something that would please me rather than a client.”

He dabbled with pastels throughout his advertising career when one day in 2005, through a myriad of connections, another artist in the area urged him to join the Pastel Society of the West Coast (PSWC).

The first thing he submitted, inspired from his photo of branches sticking out of the snow at Lake Tahoe, won first place.

Now, eight awards later, he’s a PSWC Signature Artist and judges at regional art shows and local events for the El Cerrito and Oakland Art Associations. 

“Inspiration is all around all the time. I’m constantly getting whiplashed,” he said, adding that he continues to enter shows because he knows that the best painters will be represented.

“When I go to the show, I see what the goals are and that I have to continue to better my skills," he said. "I just want to be a better painter, and if I win a prize, great.”

You can learn more about his work, sales and lessons on his website

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