About Tom Blood

Award-winning, brand-building advertising and marketing communications Creative Director and owner of BloodLines Creative. I'm a writer who thinks visually and an artist who paints pictures with words. I'm also a leader, a mentor, a producer and big idea generator. I'm a proud father of three great children, a loving husband who is blessed to have such a tremendous wife and I'm passionate about the work I do and the life I lead and look forward to sharing my thoughts on all of the above.

Delivering the Good for Caritas Connections – part one

A frame from the new Caritas Connections video.

A frame from the new Caritas Connections video.

Caritas Connections is a faith-based, not-for-profit organization that collects donated items and distributes them at no cost, to worthy organizations in the St. Louis metropolitan area, who in turn use them to clothe, feed and assist the needy in our community.

I’ve been involved with Caritas for a number of years – first working on kind of a subset of the organization that collected laptops and distributed them to ex-offenders and then becoming a board member about three years ago. Previously, my biggest contribution was helping them re-fresh their newsletter look with a new name and design (courtesy of Madeleine Neuner) and then writing content for each edition.

Caritas never had an overview video before – since they’re a not-for-profit, they have always been extremely conservative when it comes to spending money. But the topic continued to come up at our board meetings. As circumstance would have it, I had a lunch back in December with Scott Huegerich, who is a managing partner at Aligned Media.

Scott and I have worked on many projects together during the course of my career. He’s a tremendous editor as well as a super nice guy. I asked him whether Aligned had ever done  any work with other not for profits and when I told him about the type of work that Caritas Connections does throughout the St. Louis metro area, he was intrigued.

When I brought up the possibility of creating a new video to our board, they enthusiastically told me to go for it. So I developed several script overviews, eventually settling on two directions that I presented to our board as well as the team at Aligned Media.

Ultimately, we had a unanimous decision on “Delivering the Good”, which tells the story of what, how and why Caritas does what it does through the words of our volunteers and clients.

It’s about a five minute video overall and it lives on the home page of our new Caritas Connections website. I invite you to watch it by clicking here.

Getting all the footage and interviews for the video was no easy task. I began by going out on several delivery runs with Father Tom Bryon in the Caritas Connections van. Those involved some early start times – meeting Father at the Caritas garage at 5 am and then hitting the road.

While making these runs, I used my iPhone to take a lot of video. Many of those shots ended up in the finished product but the bulk of the footage (and all of the live videos) were a result of Scott Smith who handled the camerawork and Brad Brueggeman who captured all of our interviews in a variety of locales on audio.

I put together a ridiculous production schedule for our shoot, starting at 7 am and involving ten different locations in both St. Louis city and county, filming people who had never been on camera before. What could possibly go wrong?

Our worst mishap came when we were interviewing the driver of our van, who made an unexpected quick stop which sent Brad, who was sitting on a milk crate manning the mic into the back of the driver’s seat. Other than a minor scratch to his forehead, everything turned out okay.

Our in-van interview session had a few bumps along the way.

Our in-van interview session had a few bumps along the way.

Once we had all of our footage, Aligned provided me a time-coded version of it and I went to work crafting the story, adding sub-titles where I thought things needed more emphasis.

Chris Myers did a great job with the edit and somehow, the stock music piece that I selected seemed just right for the video.

Originally, we were going to showcase the video at the annual Caritas Connections golf tournament that takes place in May. But that got pushed back, and then cancelled completely. So now it lives on the website.

The message is fairly timeless.

A special thanks goes out to all the people in the video as well as everyone who had a hand in making it happen.

Lots of volunteers were happy to help in telling the Caritas story.

Lots of volunteers were happy to help in telling the Caritas story.

Caritas Connections is a tremendous organization doing a lot of good for this community and the need for what they do seems to continue to grow. It’s my hope that this video can help in some way – maybe someone will volunteer their services or choose to donate to the organization.

If that’s the case, it will be well worth the effort that went into making it.

 

This Painting Will Have You Seeing Double

"Seeing Double" - 48" x 36", acrylic on canvas

“Seeing Double” – 48″ x 36″, acrylic on canvas

From time to time, I like to share info about some of my recent paintings. The one shown here is called, “Seeing Double” – for rather obvious reasons. My objective was to try and have the moons be close to identical and though they are close, they’re certainly not exact.

So what led me to create this painting? Recently, I seem to get some visual idea stuck in my head. So I feel somewhat obligated to pursue it. In this particular instance, I kept thinking of two moons in the night sky.

Why? Perhaps in this upside down world of ours where everything seems to be a little out of whack, two moons make perfect sense.

Or not.

Regardless, I knew I had to do a painting featuring two moons. So then I tried to think of different scenarios. One was going to be an apartment building roof with a large structure in the middle – maybe the rooftop exit. On either side, I was going to have two individuals staring off at the night sky, each looking at a respective moon. In another sketch, I had a couple sitting out under the night sky, each pointing to a different moon.

Ultimately, I decided on a fairly innocuous couple standing at the edge of a suburban style neighborhood lit up at night. (I decided to give the man a bowler hat just for the fun of it.)

In this version, it’s like they’re on the crest of a hill, looking out on suburbia and the two moons in the sky. The couple form a sort of triangulation with the two moons and I like the balance of that. It makes it all appear somewhat normal – even though two moons in a night sky are far from normal.

That’s kind of how I feel about things these days. There is the semblance of normalcy – yet nothing is quite right, no matter how you look at it. Still, it’s a beautiful world and we are blessed to be living in it. If your faith is strong, hopefully, that’s as easy to see as two moons in the night sky.

In addition to being a writer by day, I’m also a painter at night who is slowly gaining an international reputation. If you’re ever interested in purchasing anything, you can order prints of my work on Artfully Walls. You can also order prints as well as get my artwork put onto a variety of items like iPhone covers, pillow throws, tote bags, greeting cards, coffee cups, shower curtains and a wide variety of other items by visiting my other website on Pixels. As if that weren’t enough, more items are now available on Vida on an even wider variety of items – from umbrellas to yoga mats, clothing and jewelry to household items. I also invite you to follow me on Instagram to see work in progress from start to finish!

 

My featured interview with Art St. Louis

A look at my art studio and a few of my recent paintings. The pillow on the left features my painting, "The Last Tree". The monkey on the right was created in a sculpture class my junior year in high school!

A look at my art studio and a few of my recent paintings. The pillow on the left features my painting, “The Last Tree”. The monkey on the right was created in a sculpture class my junior year in high school!

Many of the people who read this blog know me for my advertising and marketing communications work. But I have also been painting since 1989 and creating art going back to my grade school days.

Recently, one of my paintings titled, “The Crossing”, was featured in the Art St. Louis online exhibit, “This Moment”. As part of that exhibition, Art St. Louis has been interviewing the featured artists, getting more background on what their art is all about, how they got started and several other topics.

Here is my interview, which is the second one down of the three artists that were featured. I think you might enjoy getting a little more background on how and why I got started on this painting journey in the first place.

http://artstlouis.blogspot.com/2020/08/this-moment-artist-q-series-two.html

I continue to enjoy my job as a writer/Creative Director and problem solver via BloodLines Creative. But it’s my art that has been generating a lot of interest from a lot of different places around the world. Slowly, but surely, my paintings are beginning to get noticed. That only deepens my resolve to keep painting, and keep trying to get better.

So as a writer by day and an artist by night, I want to thank you for following my journey. And if you take the time to read the interview, I hope you enjoy it!

 

It’s A Brave New World. Or Is It?

My most recent painting is titled, "Brave New World" - but it's not based on the book.

My most recent painting is titled, “Brave New World” – but it’s not based on the book.

With all that’s been going on in the world, I wish I could be as hopeful as the title of my newest painting.

Yes, it’s called “Brave New World” which happens to be the same title of the book written by Aldous Huxley back in 1931 that told the story of a dystopian society whose citizens were environmentally engineered into an intelligence-based social hierarchy.

I can’t say that the book was the driving force behind this painting. I’m not even sure if I’ve ever even read it! But I did know the basic plot structure and the combination of our ongoing pandemic and all the recent social unrest got me to wondering, “How would a child view today’s world?”

That simple thought led me to the visual for this painting – a young boy in pajamas, looking out his bedroom window at the world which is hovering above the clouds.

It makes no sense. But to me, it makes perfect sense. Because if we could all do a better job of viewing the world through the eyes of a child (one of my favorite Moody Blues songs), we might all see what a beautiful, wonderful world that we all live in.

There’s a certain innocence to this painting and to me, a magical quality to it as well. The curtains, the sky and the boy’s pajamas were all painted rather loosely but at the same time are very well defined. The back of the boy’s head might be my best rendition yet involving hair with a few curly locks and some light highlights adding to his overall look.

A few people have asked if I intended the wooden slits (also called muntin) to symbolize a cross. No, that wasn’t the intent. But if that’s what one sees, I can’t really object.

Technique-wise, I think this is one of my best paintings yet. And conceptually? I can only wish that the magic and wonder of seeing the world from the eyes of a child fits the title a lot better than the Brave New World that Aldous envisioned.

If addition to creating advertising and marketing communications by day, I also paint at night. My paintings have been viewed around the world as I continue to try and get better as an artist.

I invite you to order prints of my work on Artfully Walls. You can also order prints as well as get my artwork put onto a variety of items like iPhone covers, pillow throws, tote bags, greeting cards, coffee cups, shower curtains and a wide variety of other items by visiting my other website on Pixels. As if that weren’t enough, more items are now available on Vida – from umbrellas to yoga mats, clothing and jewelry to household items. I also invite you to follow me on Instagram to see work in progress from start to finish!

Going For A Walk With My BFF

My BFF - 30" x 40", acrylic on canvas

My BFF – 30″ x 40″, acrylic on canva

 

 

If the art pops, is it “Pop Art”?

One of four of my Pop Art paintings featuring word plays tied together by an ampersand.

One of four of my Pop Art paintings featuring word plays tied together by an ampersand.

Several times, I have entered the many paintings that are shown on my BloodLines Art website to become a featured artist on a mass email called “Artsy Shark”.

My work has never been chosen.

The curator of the contest tells me that I have a very inconsistent portfolio and that it’s hard to tell what I’m trying to do as an artist.

“If people don’t know what you represent, how can you ever expect them to buy your work?” she told me.

Maybe that’s true.

The painting you see featured here, which is called, “Salt & Pepper” does not fit my normal surrealistic approach to painting.

And I decided several months ago to completely ignore her advice. Call it my ‘artists prerogative’.

This is the fourth in a series of paintings that feature word plays, tied together by an ampersand. First there was “Rock & Roll”. Then came “Fish & Chips”, followed by “Jack & Coke”. Now, I present, “Salt & Pepper”.

These paintings are bold in their color palette. The visuals aren’t always as easy to paint as they might look. There are seven different colors in the red pepper and that’s not counting the green stem which has five different colors in it. Trying to emulate the typography on the Morton salt canister was a challenge and though it’s not perfect, neither am I! BTW – I used the old time rendition of the Morton Salt canister which featured a much larger version of the girl with the umbrella. The version that is sold today has a much smaller version of the girl and some of the detail has been eliminated.

These paintings are fun to create and offer a bit of a break from my normal surrealistic endeavors. I consider them Pop Art – not just because the visuals pop, but also because they deal with popular known expressions and give them a bit of a twist. They are fun, playful and when you have all of the paintings lined up in a group, they make for extremely striking imagery.

When I painted “Rock & Roll”, it sold about two months after I had created it. I liked that concept so much that I created another version of “Rock & Roll” using a different rock and a different roll.

So now there are four of these and yes, there will probably be more.

And I will continue to post them on my Bloodlinesart.com website. And if I’m never featured on Artsy Shark, I can live with that. Fame is fleeting anyway.

In addition to creating advertising and marketing communications by day, I also create art by night and have built a worldwide following.

You can order prints of my work on Artfully Walls. You can also order prints as well as get my artwork put onto a variety of items like iPhone covers, pillow throws, tote bags, greeting cards, coffee cups, shower curtains and a wide variety of other items by visiting my other website on Pixels. As if that weren’t enough, more items are now available on Vida on an even wider variety of items – from umbrellas to yoga mats, clothing and jewelry to household items. I also invite you to follow me on Instagram to see work in progress from start to finish!

A Flying Leap Into Spring

May we all rise above this damn pandemic and leap into the beauty of spring!

May we all rise above this damn pandemic and leap into the beauty of spring!

With this on-going pandemic continuing to bring us all down, I wanted to paint something that was totally uplifting. That was my goal as I began to ponder ideas.

For some reason, I zeroed in on a ballerina. I’ve always been fascinated by their amazing grace and power as it takes great athletic ability to do the many moves they make.

I knew I wanted to paint the ballerina out in the open, set against a blue sky. It was then that I decided to put her in a field of sunflowers and she would be holding two of them in her hands in mid-leap form.

So that was my initial sketch that I worked up.

I spent quite a while on scaling up my small sketch onto the canvas, paying special attention to the ballerina. Since she was the focal point of the painting, I knew I had to get her features correct.

Generally, I don’t paint too many faces. I have a tendency to overwork the image until it becomes a muddled mess.

The painting began with the sky. I went from a straight blue sky to working in the cloud formations that you see. Initially, I thought I had overdone the largest cloud and that it would take away from the grace of the ballerina. But I decided to let it be and move on to the flowers. Even now, I can see the shape of a praying mantis in that cloud formation. But that’s how clouds are supposed to be – where you can see objects or things that aren’t really there.

The sunflowers were more of a challenge than I anticipated. They needed to be defined in the foreground and nebulous in the background. Initially, the backdrop was flat but I thought adding distant hills on the horizon helped to define everything a bit more.

When I began painting the ballerina, her dress was more bluish which I quickly decided didn’t work. So I went with more of a plum color and tried to maintain the shape of her legs underneath the dress. I actually painted her face first before I moved on to the dress. I used a very fine tipped paint brush to highlight her features.

Though this painting may not fit my normal surrealistic approach, there is still a hint of surrealism as she’s probably about 15 feet in the air meaning she either has enormous power or I’m simply using her as a metaphor for all of us to rise above.

I’m hoping that in the coming weeks, we may all be able to leap into spring. There is beauty everywhere. And it is meant to be enjoyed.

In addition to creating advertising and marketing communications by day, I’m also a recognized artist whose works are enjoyed by many around the world. If you know anyone who you think might enjoy these updates and overviews, you can sign up for my free art newsletter at https://www.bloodlinesart.com/email-newsletter. Also, if my prices are keeping you from purchasing anything, know that you can order prints of my work on Artfully Walls. You can also order prints as well as get my artwork put onto a variety of items like iPhone covers, pillow throws, tote bags, greeting cards, coffee cups, shower curtains and a wide variety of other items by visiting my other website on Pixels. As if that weren’t enough, more items are now available on Vida on an even wider variety of items – from umbrellas to yoga mats, clothing and jewelry to household items. I also invite you to follow me on Instagram to see work in progress from start to finish!

Social Distancing with a touch of Magritte

I took a surrealistic viewpoint of Social Distancing and this is the result.

I took a surrealistic viewpoint of Social Distancing and this is the result.

To say that the Coronavirus has changed the way we live is an understatement.

In January, no one had ever heard of the term, “Social Distancing”.

Now, it’s the new norm and there’s no telling how long it will be in effect.

These days, a simple walk in the park is no longer possible. You have to go out of your way to stay out of the way.

I totally get it.

But I certainly don’t like it.

Personally, we have been lucky so far, able to avoid the ravages of the Coronavirus. Like so many others, we have abided by the rules, sheltering ourselves at home and when we do go out, keeping our six-foot distance from others.

I thought to myself, “Why not somehow portray this in a painting and do it in what I think is now my own unmistakeable style?” The man in the bowler hat, my on-going homage to the Belgian surrealist master, Rene Magritte, would anchor the right portion of the painting. And in a similar style, a woman with her blond hair braided and in all black occupies the left portion of the canvas.

There is a noticeable gap between them.

They each stand with their backs to the viewer, so that you, as well as they are all staring out at some body of water and a distant horizon.

Though the sky is blue, the moon is out – another Magritte reference. It could be dawn. It could be dusk.

There’s a light on the horizon, perhaps signaling that better times are just ahead.

I like to think so.

When you see this painting for real, it is quite striking. It’s 36″ x 48″. The two figures really stand out against the background.

It’s a painting that had Social Distancing never entered our vocabulary – if the Coronavirus had never come our way – would still be quite striking.

But with this damn virus, it has a whole new meaning.

I hope you all are well and healthy and that we can return to some sort of normalcy in the very near future.

Thanks for reading!

In addition to creating advertising and marketing communications by day, Tom is also a painter by night. His work is available on a variety of websites. For example, you can order prints of my work on Artfully Walls. You can also order prints as well as get my artwork put onto a variety of items like iPhone covers, pillow throws, tote bags, greeting cards, coffee cups, shower curtains and a wide variety of other items by visiting my other website on Pixels. As if that weren’t enough, more items are now available on Vida on an even wider variety of items – from umbrellas to yoga mats, clothing and jewelry to household items. I also invite you to follow me on Instagram to see work in progress from start to finish!

Wanted: American ingenuity to find new ways to work

We need to get back to work. But how we work needs to completely change. And for that, we need ideas.

We need to get back to work. But how we work needs to completely change. And for that, we need ideas.

Each day of this ongoing pandemic gets more grim. Our country and indeed, the world, was not adequately prepared for the challenges we now face.

Many people are in to finger pointing saying had he done this or had we done that, we wouldn’t be in the situation we’re currently facing. But that accomplishes nothing for where we are today and where we might be as a nation by the time 2021 arrives.

We have to get back to work. But the way we work has to dramatically change. Business as usual would be a colossal failure leading to more spread of the virus and crippling our healthcare system for good.

So what can we do? We need to look at how we conduct business and what types of business we should be conducting in the first place.

We need American ingenuity now, more than ever.

Our first focus has to be on serving the needs of our healthcare providers. That seems to be the current emphasis – but the rest of us who aren’t involved in any of those endeavors can’t just sit idly by, waiting for someone to signal “Everyone back in the water.”

Social distancing needs to become the norm for the immediate future in the workplace. Workers need to be checked each day at the door for potential symptoms. Are there instant temperature reading devices available?  If not, we need them.

Factory automation needs to be ramped up. Just like Ford and GM have shifted to making ventilators and masks, we need more companies to figure out ways to mass produce protective shields, temperature readers, sanitizers and other key items that could allow retail stores, restaurants and other types of businesses to re-open their doors.

Mass transit is no longer an option. But it doesn’t mean it has to come to a complete end. If we got rid of 9 to 5 hours and went instead to shifts around the clock, that could ease some of that  burden. Purchasing tickets online and limiting the number of tickets sold for each stop could also help.

We may need to go to a cashless society. We may need to eliminate personal transactions between individuals.

We need to re-think our food preparation and food delivery system.

I don’t have all of the answers. In fact, I don’t have any of the answers. Many of the above items I just listed would take months, perhaps even years to implement which is not much help to what will take place next week.

But the fact remains, our work paradigm has completely shifted. And we need to find new ways to shift with it.

Sports and entertainment are a huge component of our American fabric. Sadly, until this resolves itself, team sports are out of the equation and attending events probably isn’t a viable option either.

Individual competitions could still go on. Professional golf could return – maybe the players wouldn’t be allowed to have caddies. They’d have to meet health criteria before going out on the course. Courses could follow the same restrictions they’re currently using with no flags or rakes. Broadcasts could still go on with limited camera coverage. That would mean ad revenue and sponsorships could return.

Track & Field events could be ramped up with new restrictions regarding social distancing. Same with swimming & diving. Figure skating. Skiing. Motocross. Bull riding.

Professional bowling could return. Bowling alleys could re-open with new sanitary rules and social distancing regulations.

The key is to get people to re-think how we’ve done things in the past. And figure out new ways of doing things for the future.

We cannot afford to wait to return to business as usual.

There may never again be a business as usual.

If you agree, please share.

More important, put on your thinking cap and whatever your profession may be, think and propose new ways that we can get back to work without further risking the spread of this virus.

 

 

 

The idea for this surrealist painting came from out of the blue

A spiral staircase rises out of the ocean with a woman in a long, red dress standing atop it.

“Out Of The Blue” – 30″ x 40″, acrylic on canvas                           A spiral staircase rises out of the ocean with a woman in a long, red dress standing atop it.

 

 

Generally, right about the time I’m finishing up a painting, my mind begins to churn over the basic question, “What will I paint next?”

For artists who paint abstract images or focus on landscapes or portraits, perhaps the answer to that question isn’t quite as wide-ranging compared to what I choose to do.

For me, you have to have an idea in mind before you begin the painting process. And that idea might lead me anywhere.

Sometimes, different visuals will pop into my head. They’re totally random thoughts but if I find myself going back to the same one, I generally pursue it.

So for some odd reason, I had a spiral staircase in my head. I had done a painting before featuring a spiral staircase and I didn’t want to repeat myself.

Yet the image persisted.

So I looked for some spiral staircase reference material and came across a rather unique looking one where the steps appear to be free-floating, anchored down by three different beams at the top, middle and bottom of the staircase.

I liked it. But then, what to do with it? In the previous painting involving a spiral staircase, it rose out of the clouds and there on top of it was the man in the bowler hat.

I knew that wasn’t a solution. So then I thought, what if it rises out of the water in the middle of nowhere?

I sketched it out and liked the starkness of the image. So I committed to the concept and sketched it out on the canvas. And with this painting, I decided a woman should be standing at the top, looking out on the horizon. And why not have her in a long, red dress, just to add a little drama to the scenario?

It wasn’t much of a sketch. Just the staircase, the woman and the shape of a few puffy clouds.

I started in on the sky and as I was creating it, I really liked its blueness, knowing that there would be even more blue to come with the sea. When it came time for the ocean, it was done in different shades of blue, using five different blues overall.

All that blue was overwhelming. Which is when the title for the painting came to me, “Out Of The Blue”.

The spiral staircase rises up from out of the blue.

The woman is standing atop it, seemingly from out of the blue.

It’s a very simplistic, yet powerful visual.

Perhaps, in this, ‘Year of the Woman’, it represents women’s ability to rise up, seemingly from out of nowhere. Maybe she’s waiting for her ship to come in. Or maybe it’s a melancholy look at singularity.

Its beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

In addition to creating advertising and marketing communications by day, I love to paint at night. If you’d like to receive regular updates about my paintings, you can sign up for my free newsletter: http://tblood.faso.com/email-newsletter

Also, if my prices are keeping you from purchasing anything, know that you can order prints of my work on Artfully Walls. You can also order prints as well as get my artwork put onto a variety of items like iPhone covers, pillow throws, tote bags, greeting cards, coffee cups, shower curtains and a wide variety of other items by visiting my other website on Pixels. As if that weren’t enough, more items are now available on Vidaon an even wider variety of items – from umbrellas to yoga mats, clothing and jewelry to household items. I also invite you to follow me onInstagram to see work in progress from start to finish!