Ever wanted to get inside the mind of an artist and find out what makes them tick? I thought it would be fun to get to know a little more about Tom’s artistic likes and dislikes, inspirations and evolution. Hope you enjoy!
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L: When and how did you discover your knack for art?
Tom: I was a junior in high school before I began to seriously consider art as a career. I took art classes my junior and senior years and then enrolled in the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, studying what now would be called graphic design.
L: What are some mediums have you dabbled in, and what are are your favorite and least favorite traits of each?
Tom: Over the years I have worked in pretty much all the major mediums in two-dimensional art: oil and acrylic paint, watercolor, tempera, pen and ink, collage, photo-montage, ceramic and hand colored paper mosaics, charcoal, wood-cut printmaking, silkscreen printing, stone lithography, photography, colored pencil, and graphite pencil. Of all these my least favorite medium to work with is watercolor. While I much enjoy watercolor paintings done by others, watercolor has remained an illusive medium for me. My favorite medium to work with is a simple #2 graphite pencil, sometimes augmented with colored pencil.
L: What people/subjects/events influenced your art in previous decades, and how has that changed in more recent years?
Tom: For as long as I can remember my favorite subjects have been connected in some form to nature. Sometimes my subjects are exclusively taken from the natural environment, the blaze of colors in autumn leaves, the natural calligraphy of bare winter branches against a winter sky; but more often I like to include some human element into the composition – a log cabin, a broken fence gate, an old weathered barn, an old and rusting water pump, etc.
L: What do you feel is the relationship between photographic art and handmade art? In general and also specifically to you. Or what would you say to people who feel photography isn’t art because anyone can point a camera and click the shutter?
Tom: I believe that both photography and “handmade art” processes can be used to create original art. I have often used photography like a visual notebook to record ideas for future use when working on paintings or drawings. I do, however, object to the use of a camera with a high speed motor drive that can rapid- fire a long series of maybe 50 to 100 photos, from which the photographer then can select that one composition that looks perfect. That isn’t the work of a true artist. Even a monkey can push a button, snap off a 100 digital pictures, and likely have at least one that looks like a professionally composed picture.
L: When did you begin writing, and do you have any new writing projects coming up?
Tom: I have never thought of writing as my primary means of creative expression. Having said that I must admit that I felt a compulsion to write These Thousand Acres that wouldn’t go away. There were things I wanted to say, and writing was the only way to say them. I am working on another writing project, and as it was with These Thousand Acres, I feel compelled to do the work. This piece, however, will be much different, much more complex, but enough said about that at this time. With more than two years of research and six months of writing behind me I am still struggling to to produce a first, rough draft.