Summer Portfolio

Figure “Drawing”
2011 Summer Portfolio
University of North Florida



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“The Cookie Jar”

22” x 30” Pastel on Cotton Rag

A voyeuristic scene experienced through an open bedroom door.  The viewer could be a wife walking in on her husband with another woman or simply a peak into a private world.  The crisis stems from the viewer’s perspective.  We experience this scene as an un-welcomed visitor who is a split second away from being noticed. 

I chose wheat cotton rag paper which gave the image a nostalgic feel and soft pastels for a dreamlike quality. 

The scene is rendered in a Hopperesque style with a bright fixed light source.

My initial inspirations stem from John Sargent, Edwin Lord Weeks, Gustave Caillebotte, Degas, Hopper and have evolved to the Bay Area movement of the 1950’s-60’s…  Artists like Elmer Bischoff, Richard Diebenkorn, David Park and Henry Villierme.

I strive to create fast work with bold brush strokes and a spontaneously chosen palette.  I seek to capture the moment “I” experience, rather than the moment as it actually occurred.

I like large portraiture and powerful, life size images.  I seek to understand and utilize psychological color to subliminally nudge the viewer towards conceptual meaning.




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“American Dreamland”

22” x 30” Gouache on Grey Cotton Rag

American Dreamland is a commentary piece on society; the more things change, the more they stay the same—the insatiable human desire.

The concept is based on a Brett Easton Ellis novel, “Less than Zero”.   The inspiration styling stems from the pulp fiction magazines of the 1950’s-60’s with hints of the Bay Area Movement of this same period. 

The landscape has a bright surrealistic wash of sunlight which is literally rising from below and devouring the scene, meanwhile the figures maintain a dark moonlit illumination.  This is a nod to the contradictions commonly found in perception and reality.  The words, “Disappear Here” (Less than Zero) are carved into the background.  A man dressed in a business suit stands in front of his castle stoically surveying the horizon for more material wealth.  His beautiful wife, house and pool dissolve into the background.  They are symbols of previous battles won and consequentially worthless trophies of the past.




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“The Caterpillar Catastrophe”

22” x 30” Gouache on Cotton Rag

I like to use imagery which draws the viewer closer to the scene.  Last year I did a painting of a subject in a bathtub filled with a red substance which appeared to be a suicide attempt.  Upon closer inspection the subject is merely taking a bath in J-ELLO and anxiously waiting for it to congeal with a large spoon.  I found this image humorous, but also telling of things not always being as they appear.

This painting portrays a figure sewing a potentially mortal wound while holding a stop watch. Again there appears to be a red substance, an open wrist and a bathroom.

This time the subject is sewing a wound versus slitting his wrist, which I associate with a close-call and new beginning or rebirth.

“What the caterpillar sees as the end, the butterfly knows is only the beginning”

The red thread is used referencing the Chinese legend, The Red Thread of Fate.  In  this legend there is a mythological being who sews the souls of the world together with a thin, nearly invisible red silk thread…we are one, we are all connected.



 

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“Political Theology”

30″ x 69″ Gouache on Cotton Rag

Political Theology is a triptych of vertically composed 22” x 30” sheets of gray cotton rag.  Uniformly the sheets make a large American flag in the background and three Presidential portraits in the foreground.

The sheets represent the major political changes from the 1970’s to the present or what could alternately be interpreted as a lack of change.

To me this work is more about the viewer’s experience and reaction to the figures than my own political views.  I think of politics on the same lines as I do religion.  The majority of our population is so programmed from birth to believe what they are told without questioning the validity of these justifications that any other view points are readily dismissed.

The images I have chosen are iconic and nearly stereotypical.  Nixon and Obama represent polar opposites, yet maintain a relationship such as kindred spirits. 

These figures flank an almost smirking Clinton who I intended to act as a balance or fulcrum point.

Nixon stands grinning ear to ear with his standard issue peace sign salute, while Obama huddles for cover under an umbrella…

Recycled Foam Handplanes with HD GoPro Camera Mount

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I like a nice flat rocker in my board designs, so I usually end up with extra foam sections from the nose and tail.  Over the years I’ve watched these pieces pile up and have often wondered of a fun way to re-appropriate the byproducts.

A friend of mine stopped by the shack with an old handplane from the seventies and I had noticed some recent interest in the sport, so I decided to shape a few.

I’ve been testing them out and super stoked on the speed and control achieved when using these tiny boards for body surfing!

With an integrated HD GoPro Camera mount in the nose you can capture some amazing barrel footage even in the tiniest surf!  great fun

-Thomas

What’s Going On…

I have spent the past eight months at the University of North Florida studying paint in the College of Fine Art. 

Classes resume tomorrow.

I wanted to share a few photos from the the Fall semester & the latest from Lotus Earth over the holidays.

Fall Portfolio
Oil on Canvas

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University of North Florida Gallery
“JELL-O-cide”
Oil on Canvas
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Shaping over the Holidays-
9’6″ Traditional Log
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Coke Bottle Green Resin Tint:

I was brainstorming new design possibilities with my friend Kevin when Little Tom walks over with this Dixie cup. What can I say, the kid has some great style.  I created a logo around his suggestion which took this board and Lotus Earth in a fresh new direction.
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Mock-up of the new design-
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The beauty of having a background in graphics, here is the actual board with the laminated logo under fiberglass cloth-
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Glassing some custom artwork with an entirely new approach to composition and aesthetics-

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California Sunrise – Artist’s Statement

I remember the years differently now. 

In the beginning memories were clear and the order which events occurred was easily placed in a chronological sequence.

Its all a blur… 

Memories exist like paintings hanging in dark hallways.  I glance up from time to time and recall the memory and the moment, but the manner in which things really happened is too distant.

I realize this does seem rather extreme (even for me), but this is simply how my mind operates. 

I reinvent myself every few years and the old me seems to quietly fall asleep and die.  I retain the experiences from these past lives, but my new self doesn’t fully connect.

Last night I watched *Lost in Translation* and I was telling a friend I loved the movie, however I could not relate to the characters.  I think I’m too old to remember what it was like to be in my early twenties and I’m too young to connect with a middle aged man going through a mid-life crisis. 

I did however connect with the reality of doors shutting which can never be opened again and how the decisions we make in *this* life are infinitely more permanent than ever anticipated.

Time is so relative and surveying thirty-thousand years of art history this summer further enlightened me to the fact that our lifetime is just a blink of the eye to humanity.

Life is everything and nothing. 

The more we love life, the more precious it becomes. 

Maybe that is the answer? 

To simply wait and anticipate a better day in the future may add some reciprocal value to our current life, however this seems like a false and temporary version of happiness.

We all have an insatiable desire to *lose* ourselves in a moment.  Through music, dancing, adrenaline, surfing, sex, yoga, meditation we lose ourselves in the experience and capture an eternal moment which would have been forever lost.

I seek to paint *these* unbelievable moments, moments which go far beyond all imaginable feelings and are indescribable in any language.

Tonight I am working on a painting of one of my kindest friends.  Scott has a unbelievable gift with music and we had a nice jam session on the ukulele the other night.  Scott’s portrait captures the moment he loses himself in song and in a very real facet this truly feels as if I am painting his soul.

 

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I believe these are the portraits I am here to paint and these are the images of life which make *me* feel alive.  Models needed, apply within

-Thomas