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  • Writer's pictureShea Stanfield

Impressions of the Day

In 1874, Impressionism emerged in France, a movement inspired by a desire to capture the "impressions" of everyday life with an avant-garde and unacademic aesthetic style. Edgar Degas, one of the members of the Impressionism movement, describes it this way, "A painting requires a little mystery, some vagueness, and some fantasy. When you always make your meaning perfectly plain, you end up boring people." Fast forward more than a few years to Springfield and Chicago, Illinois, one young creative known as Tom Thomas was about to begin making his brush strokes known to a modern audience.

Young Tom noticed two monumental movements in the evolution of art masterpieces; the Renaissance and the Impressionists. Asked who influenced him as a young creative, Tom commented, "It would take several hours to compile an honest list; however, he did offer up a few recognizable names, Corbet, Van Gogh, Modigliani, Vermeer, Braque, Monet, Picasso, Cezanne, Rockwell, Wyeth, Jasper, Johns just to start. He said, "I have been privileged to study under a number of excellent working artists and teachers, none of them taught technique as we know it." Yet, Tom was introduced to various mediums' basic tools and equipment, such as oil painting, printmaking, and sculpture. What they all have in common is the artist, in this case, Tom, must learn by trial and error, success and failure, and learn their strengths and limitations. Tom elaborates, “It’s all about building courage, trust, and belief in my instincts, enabling me to take chances.”

Three artists Tom studied with are credited with shaping his thinking process; Farhad Moize (Bronze Sculptor), Martin Stoezel (Large canvas figurative), and Willard (Mike) Dixon. Dixon's Large scale urban, figurative, and landscape paintings are in museum collections nationwide. Tom's no slacker regarding his artistic education and background, either. He attended the schools of the Art Institute of Chicago, the University of Chicago for academics, the College of Marin, California for (painting, and sculpture, the San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco City College for printmaking, and the San Francisco Academy of Art for Painting from live models. However, not all of this study was a straight-line continuum.

Tom explains after two years at the Art Institute of Chicago; he caught a serious case of 'Wanderlust,' which manifested in traveling the US before joining the Merchant Marines and being shoved off to the high seas. Tom reflects, "I found myself in Vietnam as a long-haired hippy civilian on a couple of occasions during the war." Fortunately, Tom completed his tour with the Merchant Marines and returned to his creative pursuits after signing off sign in San Francisco. He admits to learning his fair share of life's lessons during this time. However, one of them needed to learn how to market his art. Rather than becoming a literal starving artist, Tom leaned on his family's foundation of craftsmanship to pay the bills while he continued to hone his painting skills. During this time, Tom also worked in commercial restaurants as a lead chef, favoring the flexibility of the hours around his already busy schedule. Eventually, he funneled his skill sets into architectural design.

His area of specialization is in Architectural Interior Millwork. At this point, Tom explained further, "I designed and supervised the manufacturer and installation of high-profile interior finishes and fixtures for corporate facilities." You might recognize the name of one of his clients; Apple Computer & Sun Microsystems. You may have even seen other projects in Courtroom interiors, banks, hospital nurse stations, and more. Tom said, “I was very good at this work, perhaps too good because it began interfering with my growth as a Fine Art Artist. As a result, Tom decided to take the 'big gamble' and go full-time into a career as an artist, for better or worse. The decision came with a move from the shoreside of the West Coast to the Valley of the Sun in Arizona for economic considerations.

Tom's process was to become involved in local art leagues for initial exposure. The choice comes with some success in collecting Best of Show awards and First Place ribbons; however, only a few sales. In 2022 Tom hit his first jackpot, winning the Best of Show in a high-profile state-wide competition which brought him prize money of $1000. Good, but not good enough. So the beat goes on. Tom's reputation began attracting attention, translating into his work showing at; Moments in Time Gallery in Gilbert Arizona, On the Edge Gallery, and as a Studio Artist with Xanadu Gallery, both in Scottsdale, Arizona. Recently, he added The Finer Arts Gallery in Cave Creek to the galleries that represent him.

Artist Tom Thomas is a member of the Arizona Art Alliance, the Arizona Artist Guild and the Gilbert Visual Art. His work represents a spectacular array of masterfully rendered subjects. Tom readily admits to being inspired by almost anything in his line of sight. A visit to his website or one of the galleries that represents Tom's work will provide you with an example of his diversity of subject; The Mundane, a light study of a folding chair or shadows of stacked dishes; working, images of construction workers or farmers in the field; the Panoramic Landscape, the vastness of wild open space, and Wildlife, a Blue Heron looking for breakfast. Every subject is captivating, soul-moving, and brilliant in the light of any room.


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