I interviewed Tom with his latest painting in the beautiful Forest Park neighborhood, just a block away from where he grew up and where he currently has his art studio. The conversation that unfolded is below.
How does your new painting connect to your experience on Forest Park when you were a kid running around the neighborhood?
Growing up around Forest Park Boulevard I had a group of friends that I did everything with. It’s that ideal setting that you hope every kid has those type of neighborhood friends. Growing up in a historical neighborhood but looking at it like a playground was an interesting thought I had while painting. Even though there are these elegant houses with big yards we only saw it as more room to play. I know I am a city kid but because of the open space and so much green it feels like I got the best of both worlds. As we become adults, our ability to use creativity to adapt to our surroundings often gets lost. With this painting I was attempting to reopen that past creativity.
This painting is slightly different from some of your earlier work. Who specifically is inspiring you and how do you choose a direction when you make your art?
This painting feels very different because I introduced this drip method into my painting. I stayed away from this style of painting before because it immediately connected to Jackson Pollock. Pollock was very expressive and physical with his painting. I wanted to incorporate this physicality into my painting because it was outside my normal painting. Growing up there are few iconic painters that children know about just because of pop culture. In essence, I was trying to reach back to how I viewed his paintings when I was a child.
What does this painting means to you?
This painting is all about creative palyfulness. While painting I attempted to get away from my traditional style of thick paint and hard lines. I introduced dripping into this painting to get into a more accidental and experimental reaction type of painting.
How long did it take you to create this art including the painting and the drying, etc?
This took about four weeks to paint. I started with an acrylic drip painting to create the composition of the painting. Then I built up flat color. Once that dried I started dripping and throwing thinned down oil paint. To tighten it up and give a more Leffers type stylistic feel, I went back in with some palette knife painting to finish it off.
What else would you like everyone to know about this specific piece or the experience connected to it?
Mainly, this painting is an experiment. When you paint as much as I do, doing the same thing over and over again gets boring. To push your creative possibilities you have try different techniques and keep pushing forward. Have some childish fun and get dirty when you paint. With this dripping painting I got very dirty and messy with paint. It’s some of the most fun I’ve ever had during the creative process.
Title: “Neither hope nor fear” 2’x4′ Oil Paint on Panel. $500.
Article, interview, and photos By Stephen J. Bailey