Monday, May 11, 2015

My Art-Path (so far) in Thirteen Pictures
Like most artists, I am a work in progress, and still on the trail.

Recently received an email from a high school student, asking about my art-learning path--choices, schools, teachers--what led me along the way.  Admittedly, mostly what led me was luck, and those who taught me (and continue to teach me) the most: My peers. 
But here's the short, illustrated, and comic evolution of a man pretty much without a plan:

 I drew constantly as a kid--that act was as much a part of my life as eating or breathing. These ads, found on matchbook covers and magazines, lit up the idea that making art could be a career.

Books were gods to me (and still are). As sophomores in high school, a friend and I found this one. It was full of amazing pictures--not the kind I'd seen in art history books--but a different, amazing kind. We copied them during lunch periods, and decided we'd become illustrators.

I sent a rag-tag bunch of smeary, goofy artworks to Whitman Publishing Company, certain they'd make me famous and wealthy. The rejection letter gently suggested art school.

My parents could afford a state college in Durango, not art school, and two years later I enrolled as a biology major. (?)

Biology was not to be, especially after meeting a fellow student (in the green hat). A great artist already, he tutored me in drawing, and I realized that creating more than smeary, goofy artworks was a possibility. We decided to go to Pratt the following year.

Financial considerations prevailed, and I enrolled at the University of Northern Colorado instead.

My dorm room desk  illustrates not only a lack of organization, but a lack of maturity. I disliked the art courses, and instead pursued lit classes and drinking parties. Somehow managed to graduate with an art degree and a singular lack of art skills. First art job out of college: Drawing auto parts (badly) for warehouse catalogs. 

 But I did save up enough money for a local art school. Having grown a bit wiser, it was a beginning at least.

Valuable to me both personally, and for my art learning, were two fellow students--both of whom are now accomplished and amazing artists. Together, we taught each other. And even though I'm pretending to play the guitar here, we were not pretending or playing around with art, but seriously trying to obtain and share as much information as we could.

We studied and shared books...

...and Andrew Loomis' books in particular allowed me to find a process that finally freed images from my head and onto paper--
--images like this.

But, a work in progress, I'll never be done. I continue to grow my skills by taking workshops and classes, and learning from peers.

And there it is. Thanks for reading!


  1. Wow, Tom. Thanks for your sharing of your art journey. I learned some new things about you! You have great qualities in your character and in your art. That is a precious gift. Thank you for all your help to me over the years (both practical and artistic) and for being my friend. You are greatly appreciated and admired by moi.

    1. I feel very lucky to have such friends as you and Dan. My only regret is that we three never got a photo of all of us together back then. (What were we thinking?) Thank you Miss Gladys, for your kind words--I feel exactly the same about you!

  2. Yes, it's kinda strange we never took any photos of us together. Wahhhh! I miss Dan around, too. Thank God for social media and technology like cell phones and text. Otherwise we'd lose each other for sure!!! Mr. Tom, my words were sincere and from my heart! :O )


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