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In living color: Don Trout tracks his life story through his artwork

Posted: June 25, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: June 25, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Local artist Don Trout describes his painting “Arizona Reflections.” Local artist Don Trout describes his painting “Arizona Reflections.”
Local artist Don Trout describes his painting “Arizona Reflections.”

When the term "senior citizen" is heard, many times what come to mind are images of lawn bowling, horseshoes and bingo. Exquisite artwork usually isn't on the list, but that is about to change.

Meet senior artist Don Trout, who has spent more than half of his life painting in watercolor, oil and mixed media collage. His brush strokes have created everything from the rustic Southwest, to the beauty of the world under the sea, to fields, pastures and general stores resembling the nostalgic Midwest.

Growing up in Kansas City, Mo., Trout loved two things - art and planes - and he was determined to enjoy them both.

"As a kid, I had 22 planes hanging from the ceiling and I loved them," Trout says. "I was determined to make a career around airplanes, but my love for art got me a little sidetracked."

He went on to receive a scholarship from a local art institute in Kansas City, but then, in 1955, was drafted into the U.S. Army, where he never got more than 250 miles from home. He did manage to get into publishing/graphic design, putting out newspaper content for the Army.

"I even became the newspaper editor in the Army," Trout says with a chuckle, "and, it was all by default. I called it accidental publishing."

No one else wanted the job, but the production crew was more than willing to help Trout out with whatever he needed.

"It was the perfect scenario," Trout says. "I had planes and graphic design art in the same place."

As a result of his love for airplanes and his editor experience in the Army, Trout landed a job in the aerospace industry, doing various artistic jobs for what turned out to be a 35-year career.

But his final position before retirement was creative art director for Lockheed, designing media kits, brochures and various artwork pieces as needed.

"The thrill was working every day with other artists and being in an artistic environment," Trout says, "seeing the creativity of a project all the way through, start to finish."

Trout designed a Lockheed piece that stands today in the Gordon R. Howard Museum in Burbank - and on the First Floor Gallery in the city of Santa Clarita City Hall, he did the "Westward Ho!" exhibit, in honor of the Cowboy Festival.

Trout not only loves to paint, but has taught art for many years, including water color classes for the city of Santa Clarita and art classes at the Brand Library in Glendale.

He has also taught at Young-At-Heart, a private studio right off Bouquet Canyon.

"I love teaching," Trout says. "I love seeing students come up with great ideas."

Trout's classes are kept small and quaint so that every student receives the most out of every class. One of his students came up with an idea to give the paintings depth and texture. They used inked organic materials, placed them underwater, then transferred the image onto paper. It's a process Trout calls collage mixed media painting.

Much of Trout's inspiration for painting comes from various venues, mostly from the places he's visited, from Laguna to New Mexico to his hometown of Kansas City.

"We would travel and I would just see some place I just had to paint," says Trout.

Painting has also helped Trout keep his sanity through trying times.




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