Douglas Simonson was born and raised in western Nebraska in an area called the Sandhills. Climatewise, the Sandhills are desert-dry and trees don’t occur naturally, but there’s lots of groundwater and open space, and it happens to be ideal country for raising beef cattle.
Cattle were his father’s passion, but they held no appeal for Douglas. He was an artist through and through, like his mom (PJ), and she encouraged her oldest son to pick up a paintbrush and follow in her footsteps. At 18 Simonson left the Sandhills for Lincoln and began a more formal study of art at the University of Nebraska. He studied there for 2 years before his lifelong dream of escaping to the tropics propelled him to Honolulu.
It runs in the family: Little Doug with his artist mother PJ, late 1950
18 and studying art at the University of Nebraska (but dreaming of Hawaii), 1968-69
One of Simonson’s earliest works, a self-portrait painted while at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, 1969