Ewan McDougall was born in Wellington, New Zealand. His family later moved to Oamaru where he was educated at Waitaki Boys High School and taught art by Colin Wheeler. Ewan attended Otago University while also working in freezing works and drumming in Rock bands. He gained an Honors Degree in Political Studies in 1971. He worked at Otago University as an academic before travelling widely.
In 1983 he married his partner Sarah in Perth, Western Australia, and returned to New Zealand and in 1988 he began to paint full-time.
McDougall has had 100 solo exhibitions and has exhibited in New Zealand Public Galleries. Between December 2002 and February 2003, Ewan showed with Wayne Seyb in Southern Heat in the Dunedin Public Art Gallery.
In February, 2016, the touring solo show Fun and Fury was hosted by the Tauranga Art Gallery. This exhibition was hosted by Te Manawa in April–August, 2016, and in August–September, 2017, it was hosted by the Southland Museum and Art Gallery.
The painter has exhibited Internationally. In 1994 he exhibited in Penzance with the New Contemporaries gallery and Visions and Journeys gallery in St. Ives, Cornwall. Ten years later he exhibited in the Sydney Art Show with Gallery 2021. In 2005 McDougall exhibited in London with the prestigious Rebecca Hossack Gallery, as well as showing with RHG in The Chelsea Art Show and The London Art Fair. That year he also exhibited with three other painters at Arte Imagini Gallery in Cremona City, Italy. In 2006 he showed in Color Elefante Gallery in Valencia, Spain. In May, 2012, Ewan exhibited with other New Zealand artists in Chelsea, New York City. In 2017 he exhibited with selected artists in the Dunedin Sister City exhibition at The Yu Yuan Gardens Gallery in Shanghai, as well as in a solo exhibition in the Brighton Arts Festival, UK.
In June and July 2018, Eyes in the Back of his Head Ewan’s 30 year survey exhibition was hosted by Exhibitions Gallery, Wellington.
McDougall has been a multiple finalist or prize winner in many prominent New Zealand Art Awards. He was a prize winner in the Cleveland and Mainland Art Awards in the 1990s, a finalist in the Wallace awards on ten occasions, a finalist in the Adam NZ Portraiture Awards four times and a Finalist in The Waikato Art Awards.
Ewan has works in public collections including: The Sir James Wallace Collection, The University of Otago Auckland Centre Collection, The Dunedin Public Hospital Collection, The Selwyn Hall O.U. Collection, The Centre of Contemporary Art Collection, The Aigantighe Gallery Collection, The Eastern Southland Gallery Collection and The Forrester Gallery Collection.
In 2011, the hardcover book on Ewan’s life and work Ewan McDougall Paintings
[ed. Dr David Marks] was published by art-n-stuff press, London. The book was launched in Gallery de Novo, Dunedin.
A documentary film by Declan Wong on McDougall premiered at Toitu Museum in Dunedin in December, 2012, and the film has been shown at Public Gallery exhibitions and the artist’s dealer gallery shows throughout Aotearoa and in Brighton, UK.
Ewan and Sarah’s collaborative book Pearler: 15 paintings and 15 poems celebrating their 30 year Wedding Anniversary was published by McDougall Art in 2013 and the book still has pride of place at Ewan’s openings in Aotearoa and overseas..
McDougall was delighted to become involved in a 15 month long collaboration with the American Jazz bassist and composer and 1999 Otago University Mozart Fellow, the late Dr Harold Anderson. Anderson saw Ewan’s painting The Way to Paradise, a 2015 Wallace Awards Finalist on social media while in America, and he composed an hour long jazz/classical composition to the painting. Two concerts were played, in the Dunedin Public Art Gallery October 10, 2018, and the Wallace Gallery Pah Homestead, October 21, 2018, and the painting was exhibited at both events. The outstanding melding of Harold’s musical score, played by elite jazz and classical musicians with Ewan’s expressionist painting, left a poignant and indelible mark on the artist.
In 2020 McDougall’s big diptych ‘Love in The Time of Covid’ was included in the International Anthology of word and image of the same name by Michelle Elvy and Witi Ihimaera. He is contributing again to this incredible collection of artists responding with outstanding and varied mahi to the reality of life in a devastating Epidemic.
Unreal! a collaboration with Virtual Reality expert and multimedia artist Dr Claire Hughes, was hosted by galleries in 2020 in five cities in Aotearoa. This morphing of brilliant virtual reality and neo-expressionist painting in a New Zealand/Aotearoa gallery setting was an exciting and unique creative endeavor and the show won Best Visual Art at the 2020 Dunedin Fringe Festival.
In March,2022, McDougall exhibited his new show Stripeyism in Gallery de Novo.
Also his touring exhibition ‘Freed Up in Lockdown’ opened in The Ashburton Art Gallery in April, before going to The Eastern Southland Gallery, the Academy Galleries on the Wellington Waterfront in December, and then to The Percy Thomson Gallery in Taranaki in February, 2023.
Ruby, an exhibition of Ewan’s paintings and poems by Sarah celebrating their 40 years of marriage will be hosted by Gallery de Novo in March, 2023. This exhibition will also tour, pending further organization.
Ewan is married to playwright and writer Sarah McDougall and has three adult children: Melissa, Paul, and William. He lives and works in Whaka Oho Rahi/Broad Bay on the Otago Peninsula.