In Spring of 2009 we discovered Tom Hughes and commissioned him to paint the publisher's portrait, which subsequently ran in the July-August and the September-October issues of Fine Art Connoisseur. Tom's work had a looser look than many of the painters we've used, which was a refreshing change.
We also liked his color palette and overall style.
Sometimes when you meet someone it's instant chemistry. I met Tom at his Oakland, CA, studio, chatted about art while he studied my mannerisms and personality, and, next thing I knew, he said, "Hold that pose!" I was sitting on the couch.
Of course, the image you see above is not that painting. Rather than a full day sitting, which was tough on my schedule, Tom worked on the painting for about four hours on days one and two. We were under a time crunch because I was due to fly out for the summer in just a couple of days. At the end of day two, though almost finished, Tom asked me if I could return for one hour the following day for some final touch-up. I agreed.
When I arrived, he was ready to do the touch-up. I was standing by the window and leaning on a counter when he said, "That's it, that's the painting I should have done. Do you mind if I sketch for a few minutes?" I agreed, and before we knew it, we had two good paintings. Tom was happiest with the painting of me standing, which I agreed to use.
While some painters like it still and quiet, Tom urged me to move freely within the pose and to converse with him, which was wonderful, because we rapidly found we had many common interests in painters, art, architecture, books, music, and so much more. It's amazing what you learn about a person when you're in a conversation for many hours.
Sometimes Tom would crank up the Blues music and, at one point, he laid the brush down, picked up the guitar, and started playing along with the music. "This is how I gain perspective," he said.
While he played, he would pick up the brush and paint a touch here and there. It was a unique experience, and one I'll never forget. And he's a pretty good guitar player! He's also an excellent plein air painter and is represented by a few galleries in the East. He moved to California from Maine.
Tom's father and brother are both painters, so this came naturally to Tom. He has been sketching since he was a kid, and eventually became an illustrator for the national paper the Christian Science Monitor. He pulled out boxes of illustrations and drawings, which were world class, as are his spectacular watercolor paintings. He is clearly talented in many disciplines.