Eleventh Musing: “Tapping Into That Which Is Unseen and Heard Only Through the Soul Conversations with Artists – Part 4“
This is the conclusion to the four- part series of Conversations with Artists, where I delved into the driving forces which exist in artists and what it is that leads each of them on their uniquely different expressive paths in their artwork.
As you read on, you will find that Stuart Leask and Thom Glace share commonalities in their lives that lead them to the understanding that creativity needed to play an integral part in their lives. And you will see that again, although the commonalities exist, and they pull from similar emotions, the way they express these emotions are quite different as each artist works in his favored mediums and styles. Just as we, the viewers, interpret art according to our soul needs, artists will create the same emotional outpouring in their own unique and soul expressive way.
Thom Glace is a self-trained transparent watercolor artist who primarily works in nature art, doing biological studies. His nature art includes biological studies of fish and insects which he renders as close to realism as possible. He will often research hundreds of photographs from around the world in order to create these near specimen quality pieces. His works portraying birds are often done with an impressionistic background rather than as a biological study. The research Thom does for his nature art may take upwards of a year until he has all he needs to create the realism he desires.
Periodically Thom creates landscapes and seascapes, with his favorite places for inspiration being Assateague and Chincoteague Islands and the dolmens of Great Britain and Europe.
Although Thom’s father was an artist, Thom did not take up painting until he was in his 50’s and had suffered a catastrophic heart attack. Before that time, he worked with his father in electrical engineering, owned an advertising and marketing company, lived in various countries around the world, taught college, wrote two TV shows, and was a journalist who wrote a few books.
“I laid in bed for a year after my heart attack building up energy and after that year, I decided I needed something to keep my mind busy as I had been a workaholic my entire life. I turned to watercolors, and with a card table next to the bed with my watercolor supplies I’d be able to paint for the time I had energy and then return to it after resting and I’d only need to add water to keep going.”
Transparent watercolor may be the most difficult medium to learn and achieve success in, but Thom persevered and came up with a detailed method for teaching himself this skill. He practiced with various brushes and glazes until he discovered the method that worked for him
Thom is the in-house artist for Fly Life Magazine, which is the second largest e-magazine for fly fishing in the world. “They have archives of my paintings, which include over a hundred species of fish, for their publishing use. The paintings that moved me to achieve fame are my various paintings of trout, which include over fifteen various species from around the world.”
Thom is influenced by the seasons and the weather but does admit to sometimes doing a summer painting in the middle of winter, “Just to forget about the darned weather.” Thom and his wife are avid art collectors and rotate their collection seasonally.
Thom often works with commissions and has produced a series of eight separate paintings for a customer which showcase the fish and the lure used to catch the fish. In addition, he has a few online stores that use his paintings for cards, tote bags, shower curtains, mugs, lampshades, etc.
Thom has spent quite a bit of time in Europe and loves to listen to French jazz and blues, and classical music while painting. He is also inspired by the environment and the need for clean water. He lived in St. Croix for five years and dove every day. His various world-wide travels allowed him to see many oceans and waterways which cemented his resolve to be an advocate for clean waterways. His connection to fish, the environment, and clean water is very apparent in his nature art and he remains involved with Trout Unlimited, and Central Pennsylvania Conservancy.
Thom considers Archibald Thornburn, a Scottish painter who specialized in wildlife paintings done in watercolor to be his largest influence and muse. He adds, “Also Seurat, I have always been interested in his pointillism, and I want to use the synergism he created in my watercolor art.” His third muse is Phil Bean, a New Hampshire watercolor artist. These three male painters are who move his spirit in his art.
Thom’s admonishment to the readers of this musing, “Do not buy art to go with what you have in the room, rather buy the art you love and fill your home with the furniture and accessories that complement your art collection.”
Stuart Leask has been an artist for most of his life. Early in life, Stuart went to art school to study drawing and painting, but put that on the back burner to join his father in his business as a professional photographer for the local newspaper.
He moved back into painting as his favored expression after his retirement from UPS and after emergency surgery for a brain aneurysm, quickly followed by a diagnosis of prostate cancer. As he says, “I am in a bonus round of life.”
Stuart’s first love is acrylics but he has begun a charcoal figurative drawing class taught by fellow artist, Julie Riker. He practiced figurative drawing while in art school during the ‘70’s but moved away from it. This return to working in charcoal has assisted him in his practice of drawing the underlying sketch for a painting in chalk on a dark canvas background. This combination, using the practice of figurative drawing to create something akin to a photographic negative, gives Stuart’s finished acrylic pieces a definite edge.
At a recent ‘Connections’ gathering, Stuart met watercolorist Thom Glace, and they were able to discuss not only Stuart’s new love for watercolor but also their health events in life which led them both to full time careers as artists.
Stuart’s painting State Street Reflections was the first time an original piece of art was used on the cover of Harrisburg Magazine, (August, 2022 edition). The painting was also used as the artwork for the Simply the Best and Readers’ Choice awards that year and ultimately raffled off as a fundraiser for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
Stuart feels as though his art follows no definite style and adds, “My art depicts my everyday life. I capture the events or sights around me on my iPhone and I go home and use these to create the art on canvas. I would like to move toward working from my thoughts but for now I use that which is happening around me.” As he thinks about this statement he then adds, “I guess I’m working towards realism in what I’m seeing and my paintings are representative of how I produce that style, without getting lost in the translation from iPhone photo to acrylic painting.” He speaks to the fact that he likens his creating an art work to a musician creating a new melody, building upon a series of reflections and creating what is true to him. His work is often portrayed in brilliant colors and themes, using thick brush strokes to create a dynamic push.
He is definitely affected by the weather and seasons and realizes that this may change since he and his wife are planning to live in their new condo in Florida for the winters. “This could be a dramatic change in my seasonal work and colors.” He is now considering watercolor as the medium he may turn to during his Florida residency.
Even though Stuart listens to music while ‘getting in the mood’ to start an art project he realizes that as he gets into the groove of his work, the music fades into the background. He also enjoys working at his art whenever the mood strikes him, “I may go for a walk, go to the studio and paint a bit, do something else and come back to my art as the mood hits me and the acrylic has time to dry.”
His inspiration comes from talking with other artists, viewing their work, and being involved with creating from his everyday visuals. N.C. Wyeth and his illustrative art figure greatly and yearly trips to the Brandywine Museum are important to him and may be the muse he reflects upon.
When asked what is art, he refers back to his childhood and his visual exposures through his father’s work as a photographer and his mother’s career as a model. “I was so fortunate to be exposed to all these ideas of what art is – it is clothing, it is the visual, the use of bright colors, it is capturing the best photo on any given day, it’s life! It keeps everything really exciting and creative.”
Stuart’s suggestions for buying art for your home is, “Go with your gut. It may be a spur of the moment decision but when you love it, you love it.”
Please visit The Smith Gallery to view more art by Stuart and Thom, take some extra time to study the art by other local artists and check out the YouTube channel ArtTalks2u for The Smith Gallery Art Talks.