Doug Carter has been known to pull his car over while traveling down an East Texas road when something interesting catches his eye. 

One day flowers growing near the front porch of a home captured his attention. He admired the way the sun bathed them in a warm glow. He took out his cell phone and captured the image. 

On another occasion, he saw an abandoned truck and car in a field and jumped out and took a photo. 

Carter used the photos as the inspiration for two of his many oil on canvas paintings. His subjects include portraits, still lifes and landscapes that feature rural settings and skies with brilliant colors. 

A solo exhibition of his work is on view through Dec. 28 at Valerosa Designs & Gallery, 108 E. Eighth St. in Tyler. An opening reception is set from 4 to 6 p.m. Friday. 

Carter took art up art on the encouragement of his mother while growing up in New Jersey. He said by the time he reached high school, other interests took over. 

He later fell in love with the culinary arts and became a chef. For years, he worked for the Holiday Inn company and traveled all over the United States.

He eventually came to Tyler to help open a Holiday Inn and decided to stay.

For a birthday gift, Barbara, his wife, signed him up for art lessons.

"I blame all of this on my wife," Carter said standing in a room in his home that serves as a studio and, on this day, a makeshift gallery. 

"I knew it was something he enjoyed," she said. 

Carter said it reawakened his love for painting. 

He knew he was on the right track as an artist when one of his pieces of art sold in a gallery for hundreds of dollars. Since then, his career as an artist has taken off. He has won awards and has sold art throughout the United States.

"As an artist, I want to take on the challenge of capturing what I see," Carter said. "Can I paint that? Can I make the water glisten? Can I make the sky glow? I love the challenge of capturing light. Capturing light correctly is an artistic dance."

Carter uses distinct brush strokes. 

"I want you to know that it is a painting and not a photograph," he said. "I want it to look like a painting."

Carter is active in the Palette of Roses Art League and is represented by Valerosa Designs & Gallery. He also teaches art and works on commission. 

"This is my therapy. It takes me from here to there," he said indicating that painting has a calming influence.

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