“Patchwork” ©2013 Tom Hlas
Acrylic on paper. Image 7″ x 5″, matted to 10″ x 8″ – Sold
Since I don’t paint to capture realistically the things we see (for example, flowers, trees, houses, cows, dogs or people), I never know the direction each new painting will take or how it will look when it’s finished.
Of course, I might have some thoughts or ideas about the graphic elements and colors I may intend to use and I know the size of the canvas or other substrate I’ll use but other than that, it’s really a process of discovery, responding to each previously made mark or stroke and sometimes simply a case of trial and error.
It’s kind of like the beginning of each new day.
Each day starts out a clean slate. We might have some ideas of how the day will go, some plans of things we want to do or a mental outline or written schedule of the day’s activities. But how many of our days go the way we plan or want?
Living each day fully is a dance between how we want a day to go and responding to how it really unfolds.
Improvisation in Red, Mixed Media on Wood Panel
24 x 24 inches, ©2013 Tom Hlas
If art were easy, everyone would do it.
Wait. Everyone can make art if they get out of their own way and let go of any inhibitions and insecurities.
Of course there are varying degrees of proficiency. Not all art is created equally nor is it all of the same caliber or merit.
But art as self expression is open to everyone. So go with it, let it soar; maybe you’ll surprise yourself.
Origination, Acrylic on Paper
7 x 5 inches, ©2013 Tom Hlas – Sold
Well, maybe that’s a bit oversimplified and overstated.
But art does need you as the other half of the equation. Art is created as self expression by the artist. But it needs a viewer, an audience, a response, to be truly fulfilled.
Art needs your eyes to be seen, your hands to be felt, your feet to interpret its steps, your ears to hear its sound, your voice to recreate its melodies and words.
Breathe its beauty and even its sometimes thought-provoking challenges deep into your being and feel fully alive.
It’s you that brings artistic expression full circle.
Improvisation in Blue, Mixed Media on Wood Panel
18 x 18″ x 2-1/4 inches, ©2013 Tom Hlas
Do you know what type of art you like? Have you thought about what styles, colors, shapes, mediums or artists are your favorite?
If so, great.
Now I challenge you to look at a piece of art that doesn’t fit your like criteria and find something you can appreciate about it.
Often what we like is that with which we are familiar, that which we know.
Let go of the knowing and be about growing. There’s so much more to discover and enjoy if we let go of what we already know.
Scherzo in Red and Gold, Mixed Media on Wood Panel
Image: 10 x 7 inches, ©2012 Tom Hlas
The simplest things can carry the most profound experiences.
Color is one of those things for me.
Take red, for example, with its deep vibrancy, its energy, its blue coolness or its orange fiery warmth. It fills me up to point of overflowing, brings me joy and satisfaction, and yet, at other times, quickens my heart and sets me in motion.
Red encapsulates diversity. For some folks, it spells danger or aggression; for others red is the color of mourning, celebration, feast days and holidays, virility and passion, courage or prosperity.
Loose yourself in color and see what you notice.
Together, Acrylic on Paper
Image: 6 x 6 inches, ©2012 Tom Hlas
Sometimes, as I’m sure most do, I start feeling a little down, a bit overwhelmed with the thoughts, stresses and events that cross my daily path.
I think, “when am I going to get a break?”
But then I hear the cries of loneliness, the financial struggles, the news of poor health, the loss of a loved one, and other concerns that face those around me, whether or not I know the people personally.
And I again realize, we’re all in this together. It’s not about me or them. It’s about us.
So what can I do today to help those around me make a happier us?
Contemplation 1, Mixed Media on Paper
©2012 Linda Dubin Garfield
Surrounding oneself with inspirational people who challenge us to rise above the morass of our daily lives is life altering.
I’ve been fortunate to have the most amazing people touch my life. One of those people is a friend of mine, Linda Dubin Garfield. Linda is a talented artist, teacher and a mentor of many artists. She is widely known in Philadelphia as an arts spokesperson and consultant.
Recently Linda was diagnosed with breast cancer. I can’t even imagine what went through her mind upon hearing that diagnosis. And what did Linda do? She started a blog to document her new journey.
I invite you to follow Linda’s journey with her. It’s an inspiration unto itself. You can find her blog at http://toooldtodieyoungblog.com. A recent posting deals with questions of unknowing, “Shades of Grey: Not Sexy, Just Scary!”
Linda’s art web site
- Visit Tom’s abstract painting web site
Untitled, Mixed Media on Paper
Image: 13-1/2 x 10-1/2 inches, ©2012 Tom Hlas
“One day seven years ago I found myself saying to myself—I can’t live where I want to—I can’t go where I want to go—I can’t do what I want to—I can’t even say what I want to… I decided I was a very stupid fool not to at least paint as I wanted to.” ~Georgia O’Keeffe
While I have to admit O’Keeffe’s words play on my heart strings, her words are more than inspiration to me as an artist. Her words are a call to action and an edict for self-permission. With clear-sightedness, she saw the importance of doing what we can with what we have available despite outside imposed limitations and restrictions.
O’Keeffe refers to her art but points to something more universal. Simply replace the word “paint” with a word that describes your passion, that thing or interest that gets you out of bed every morning. Granted each of us has responsibilities and financial commitments we need to keep in mind. But what would our lives look like if we could really _________ as we wanted to? What kind of freedom would that give? How could we make the world a better, more kinder place?
Fulfilling Wishes, Mixed Media on Canvas
36 x 36 inches, ©2012 Tom Hlas
Among the symbols and shapes included in my artistic language of marks is a depiction of a three-dimensional bowl.
While looking at some of my paintings people frequently ask me, “Is that shape a bowl?” I answer yes, that’s one interpretation.
For me, bowls symbolize all that’s good in life, from Buddhist monks’ begging bowls, to sacred offering bowls, to the bowls we share at meals, to bowls as art objects. I see bowls as a symbol of abundance, gratitude, generosity, hospitality, sharing and community. They are a reminder of our past, a grounding for today and a call for a kinder tomorrow.
What’s your interpretation? How does the image of a bowl or a half sphere resonate with you?
“Don’t worry about your originality. You couldn’t get rid of it even if you wanted to. It will stick with you and show up for better or worse in spite of all you or anyone else can do.” (Quote by Robert Henri, American Artist and Teacher, 1865-1929)
I stumbled across this quote today.
As an artist whose days and nights are filled with thoughts about the next work to create or with reflections on the work I have already created, this quote gives me some freedom. It gives me room to let go to explore new ideas in my art. It allows me to be influenced by the work of others without fear of being overly influenced. It reconfirms my interest in the necessity of artistic exploration to prevent my work from getting stale and predictable.
As a business person, which is what today’s career artists are, Henri’s statement helps bridge the avenues between creativity, production, marketing and sales. Art for many of us is not a hobby. It defines who we are. It’s a means to livelihood. It’s our work. Keeping these four elements in mind is essential. And not having to worry about the loss of originality is liberating and comforting.