I started the Lotus series in 1995 after seeing a tattoo. It is an image that has a powerful symbolic meaning and history in many cultures. I never had an intention to explore it as much as I have but it has just become a part of my story. The more I created, the deeper the meaning for me and as a source of inspiration and creative development.
From a hotel in the Philippines to a hospital in Seattle to a boutique hotel lobby in Olympia, they continue to generate interest on many levels.
Copper is essential to all living organisms as a trace mineral. It has been used by humans for 10,000 years and is known to exist on massive stars. It has been used in communication, electronics, architecture, art, industry and one of the few materials known to be anti-microbial.
For over twenty seven years I have explored and experimented with the "Industrial Alchemy" of patinas on copper. Experimenting with chemical recipes and techniques of application, is a interest that I am continually evolving artistically. It is but one more option for color and texture in my palette.
My use of pastels and dry pigments, allows me to literally have a hands on approach to their application. Through blending and layering it becomes an intuitive event. I use anything that is available to create a texture, reflect light, distress the surface. Since I tend to identify more with the process of making art than just relating to the result, the materials become very important. Burnishing, scratching onto and into the surface captures the moment of engagement. I am trying to convey a sense of emotional atmosphere.
Metals have a rich history of use artistically as well as industrially. The copper sheets, aluminum, gold, copper, silver leaf, brass and iron nails are made from elements that modern humans know as historic and basic. They are materials used to build the modern world and they are a personal source of inspiration.
Color is powerful. It is a combination of conscious choice and necessity to define space. My years of working in stained glass immersed me in the options of how color can not only affect the outcome of physical space but also influence an emotional response. To me abstraction or expressionism is exploring an idea without the benefit of a planned conclusion. It is an improvisational experience defined by the courage of letting go and being in the moment. It is the instinct of experience and emotion happening in the present. Much of my work comes from that place of spontaneity
"Creativity takes courage" - Matisse
I am inspired and drawn to materials. Metals that I work with, copper, aluminum and steel provide an unlimited variety of possibilities.
Combined with oxygen and water the metal at an atomic level forms a new compound called an oxide known as rust. I create conditions for that event to occur, then explore the outcome. The juxtaposition of gold leaf and enamels with the oxides result in a unique form of painting. The process invites uncertainty. Every time we participate in an act with an uncertain outcome, I feel we become more attuned in planning our response, questioning our assumptions and trusting our instincts. Making art for me is much about that experience. The steel represents that moment of transformation.
I have collected and played guitar for many years. The idea of using it as a canvas for my work was a natural evolution of form and function. The electric guitar is a vehicle for expression both visually and sonically.
For nearly twenty years I designed and fabricated architectural stained glass. From 1986-1989 I attended the Pilchuck Glass School in Washington State. There I explored, casting, blowing, fusing and painting glass. My exposure to some of the most brilliant creatives in the field, influenced my appreciation for the possibilities not just with glass but all materials for expression.
Art in context
Some of what I consider my most successful projects came from collaboration with others, from public art projects to exhibitions. Having a specific location, budget and time frame has the effect of narrowing the focus. The necessity of creating and presenting a proposal allows me to dig deep in the process to insure a positive outcome for the client and myself. The rest is trusting my intuition, having faith in the possibilities and a knowingness of when to quit.
Original acrylic ink on canvas pieces by Tom Anderson.