By Jesslyn Tenhouse
Doug Weaver, a Columbia College senior pursuing his Bachelor of Fine Arts, has already jump-started his career.
He recently sold his first painting to an admirer. An admirer who happens to be famous: Neal E. Boyd, winner of “America’s Got Talent” 2008.
Weaver and Boyd met a few years ago. Weaver’s wife, Kirsten, and Boyd both grew up in Sikeston, Mo. In fact, the Weavers attended one of Boyd’s sparsely attended concerts in St. Louis before he appeared on NBC’s popular talent show.
After winning “America’s Got Talent” and producing his “My American Dream” album, Boyd traveled to Columbia to go to a concert last September. He invited the couple to come along. It was after the concert, during a dinner at the Heidelberg, that Boyd saw Weaver’s work for the first time and asked him to paint his portrait.
"I showed him [Boyd] some pictures on my phone of my paintings that I’ve been doing and he really liked them,” Weaver said. “He told me that he wanted one and that he’d buy it from me, so he commissioned me to paint his portrait."
"I get excited when I see such young and impressive talent," Boyd said. "I challenged him to paint me just after a previous concert featuring country singer LeAnn Rimes, and he definitely over delivered!"
Weaver gladly accepted the challenge Boyd set before him.
"I was just excited to have someone who wanted to buy my painting," Weaver said. "I view it as my work has developed far enough to be marketable, and it is a big deal."
Boyd said Weaver’s finished product impressed him.
“Doug Weaver's painting really captured me in a relaxed moment, which is a hard moment to find,” Boyd said. “Every detail was incredible, and I bought it without hesitation.”
When Boyd traveled to Columbia again to perform in his own concert at the University of Missouri’s Jesse Hall Nov. 7, 2010, Boyd displayed Weaver’s newly painted portrait outside the auditorium.
"He’s told me that he’s probably going to commission me to do other stuff in the future, which is exciting," Weaver said.
Although Boyd’s portrait was the first painting Weaver has sold, he has previously sold some of his prints. Michael Polley, professor of history at Columbia College, bought one of Weaver’s prints showcasing an Ozark landscape.
"My wife grew up spending summers in the Ozarks, and the print by Doug captures the beauty of that area in a marvelous way," Polley said. "Doug is both a talented artist and a very special guy who keeps his talent in perspective."
Richard Baumann, adjunct instructor of art history at Columbia College, has taught Weaver in a number of his classes.
"I have known students who have sold works of art from their required, culminating exhibition for their BFA degree," Baumann said. "This, of course, is mature work which is being acquired for its content, for its beauty and for its personal statement."
"It is always a tribute to a talented artist when an admirer purchases a specific work of art," Baumann added. "What a wonderful tribute to artist, to professors and to the Columbia College Art Department."
Weaver said he enjoys the artistic freedom that comes along with doing commissioned work.
"Most of things that you do in undergraduate—you do assignments, you do paintings for your professors—and so it’s nice to have an actual painting for something that you want to paint," Weaver said. “You paint it and you’ll take credit for it, but it’s not requested by a professor, it’s requested by a patron.”
Weaver said he thinks Boyd will share his work with others.
“He [Boyd] actually made my painting his Facebook profile picture for a while, and he’s been talking to me about maybe displaying it at the State Capitol in Jefferson City,” Weaver said.
What’s next for Weaver?
"I’m taking it one step at a time. Planning on going to grad school is what I’m thinking about now. Getting my Master of Fine Arts and teaching art in college, and then I’ll go from there."
Whatever Weaver decides, he has achieved recognition few artists receive at such an early stage in their careers.
"That's the type of dedication I love to see from an up and coming artist," Boyd said. "I am proud to call him a dear friend."
To view more of Weaver’s paintings, visit his website at http://dougweaverart.com/.