Friday, June 01, 2007

Seeing the World Through the Eyes of a Painter

Seeing the World Through a Painter's Eyes:
Tommy Thompson's May 2007 Newsletter

"Society as a whole attempts to persuade us not to consider an independent creative lifestyle as a wise choice. Nevertheless, I guarantee that whatever your chosen field, art will enrich your life." --Kevin Macpherson

Dreaming of the Canadian Rockies

The excitement is building in our studio. "En Plein Air Masters Chateau des Arts Mentoring Workshop" at Lake Louise in the Canadian Rockies with one of our nation's foremost representational painters, Kevin Macpherson, and his artist wife Wanda is only 2-1/2 months away, and we can hardly wait. Early mornings find us outside enjoying nature and painting en plein air--preparing for this valuable experience with a master painter. Our car trips are punctuated with oral reading (by Marie) of Kevin's insightful new book, Landscape Painting: Inside & Out. Many breaks from the hot Alabama sun find us reviewing his excellent new video, "Brush with Life." This chance of a lifetime to paint with an artist of Kevin's calibre motivates us to prepare diligently.

Seeing the World Through a Painter's Eyes: Tommy Thompson, Featured Artist, Palladio Group Design Centers, July 1-31, 2007

Mindy Roberts, owner of Palladio Group Design Centers, 2169 Central Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee, has announced that I will be the featured artist at Palladio with a month-long exhibition during July 2007. A trip to Palladio transports a visitor back to the Old World with its beautiful artwork, European antiques, and mouth-watering gourmet treats of the Cafe de France, located in the heart of the Center. Palladio is situated in the heart of Memphis' art/design district. This exhibition will feature some of my most recent work. Headlining the event, I will be doing a plein air demo to celebrate the grand opening of Palladio's Memphis Waterworks and my July exhibition.

"Hooray! Hooray! The First of May: Outdoor Painting Starts Today"--Robert Genn

According to Canadian artist Robert Genn, May 1 heralds the beginning of outdoor painting for the year. We began the month by painting at Aldridge Gardens in Birmingham, Alabama, at the invitation of the Alabama Plein Air Painters. Welcoming us to the Gardens were Mr. Larry Quick, Executive Director, and Ms. Beverly Bates, Communications Coordinator. Aldridge Gardens is known for its numerous varieties of hydrangeas. May 1 proved to be a memorable beginning to plein air painting in Alabama because of the beauty and hospitality of Aldridge Gardens.

Portrait Society of America Convenes at Reston, Virginia

My wife Marie and I enjoyed meeting many portrait artists at the Portrait Society of America (PSA) meeting in Reston, Virginia, during May 3-5. We were privileged to observe the exceptional skill of such portrait artists as Michael Shane Neal, assisted by Dawn Whitelaw; Scott Burdick; Everett Raymond Kinstler; Jason Bouldin; and Margaret Baumgaertner. Artist/collector Richard Rhodes of Brentwood, Tennessee, entertained the Portrait Society faculty and his artist friends with a party. Richard and I have taken oil painting workshops together and have enjoyed plein air painting around the Nashville area. At the party, we enjoyed seeing many friends including Michael Shane Neal, Dawn Whitelaw, Scott Burdick, and others. We also had the pleasure of making new friendships with other portrait artists, including David Beynon Pena of New York City (Several years ago David painted a portrait of the late Senator Howell Heflin of Tuscumbia, Alabama); Ms. Dolores Vestrich of Falls Church, VA; and Johnnie Liliedahl and her husband Ralph of La Porte, Texas. We were pleased to have good friend and fellow artist, George Walker of Severna Park, Maryland, as our guest at the PSA banquet.

Because of the influence of Michael Shane Neal and Dawn Whitelaw, I will never abandon my pursuit of oil portraiture. These master portrait artists have had a profound impact on my life, and I hone my skills in portraiture often and hope to one day devote even more time to that interest area.

Capturing the Colors of Birmingham Botanical Gardens on Canvas

May 10 proved to be another inspiring day for us. At the invitation of the Birmingham Botanical Gardens and the Alabama Plein Air Painters, I painted the "Hill Garden Lily Pond." Observers of the paint-out were members of "Leadership Birmingham," part of the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Fred Spicer, Director of the Gardens, welcomed us. We had the pleasure of meeting other members of the Alabama Plein Air Painters, including Nancy Harper of Huntsville and Ken and Elma Schablow of Childersburg, Alabama. Talented students from the Alabama School of Fine Arts offered a pleasant diversion. A string quartet from the school serenaded the crowd while two drama students performed excerpts from Shakespeare--Chelsie Miller as Phoebe from "As You Like It" and Jonathan Mclernan as Arial from "The Tempest."

Painting May Poppies at the Mays' Garden

May 12 found us painting poppies in the garden of Diane and Frank May of Nashville, Tennessee. The garden is beautiful, and the hospitality of the Mays is inviting. Other members of the Chestnut Group joined in the fun, including Cynthia Crook, Claudia Williams, Calvin Shiver, Frank May, and others.

Symphony in Oil

On Mother's Day, May 13, 2007, I decided to do something totally different--painting en plein air while the Nashville Symphony entertained in Crockett Park in Brentwood, Tennessee. This attracted many curious onlookers since they had never observed anything quite like this, but all agreed that plein air painting added a nice ambience to the afternoon. Stay tuned for a peek at the studio version of this painting.

Feature in Greater Nashville House, Home and Garden Magazine

Thanks to interior designer, Tanna Miller, for including my painting, "Flat Creek at Jackson Hole," as an illustration in her article in the May/June 2007 issue of Greater Nashville House, Home, and Garden Magazine.

In Appreciation of Our Galleries

Many thanks are conveyed to all of our galleries, including Palladio. Congratulations also to Brooke Robinson for marking the 17th Anniversary of Local Color Gallery in Nashville, Tennessee. This record is one to be celebrated. Best wishes for many more anniversaries to Brooke and her able assistant and former owner, Ron York. At Savage Gallery excitement is also in the air as they prepare for their grand opening in a new location on Old Hillsboro Road in Franklin, Tennessee. Willis-Gray Gallery in Decatur, Alabama, will be celebrating its 4th anniversary on June 21, and we will be participating in that special day. Village Fine Art Gallery in Knoxville, Tennessee, recently reported that two of my originals will be installed in the new wing of St. Mary's Hospital in Knoxville in June.

Robert Genn's Twice-Weekly Newsletter

We enjoy Canadian artist Robert Genn's Twice-Weekly Newsletter so much that we encourage anyone interested in art to subscribe to his delightful newsletter. To subscribe to the free newsletter, click on

Fine Art Views by Clint Watson

Clint Watson, computer software/internet guru and former co-owner of a national art gallery in San Antonio, Texas, is offering a free newsletter to anyone interested in art. If you would like to subscribe to this informative newsletter, please click on Then click on the "Join" link. Clint also offers an outstanding website service for artists that is very easy to manage and update (

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