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Painting a memory

Rising to new heights with ‘Ascension’

My most recent painting takes you above the clouds.

My most recent painting takes you above the clouds.

Many times, when traveling by plane, I’ll look out the window and see the clouds below. I’ve often wondered what it would be like to fly above those clouds which was the inspiration behind this recent painting.

Similar to the Greek mythological character Icarus, who used wings to fly but ultimately got too close to the sun, I decided to create my own character who could fly.

Using a few different photo references, I sketched out a young boy, flying above the clouds, holding on to two giant feathers, looking down on the clouds below.

I must be going through some sort of a purple phase because I opted to use that color as the dominant color of the clouds. I always struggle whenever I’m painting clouds – though there is total randomness in cloud formations, the light to dark aspect always confounds me.

But that’s the challenge of painting.

This particular painting is 36″ x 48″. When you see it in person, it’s quite dramatic due to its large size. I like the painting and I also like the title.

Hopefully, you do as well!

In addition to being a writer and Creative Director at BloodLines Creative, I’m also an avid painter who loves to paint the impossible or at least the highly improbable.

Most of my work is available for purchase – or you you can 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 website on pixels. I also invite you to follow me on Instagram to see work in progress from start to finish!

Even I Can’t See The Forest Through The Trees

There's a lot of green in my most recent painting which measures 36" x 48"

There’s a lot of green in my most recent painting which measures 36″ x 48″

I thought I’d share a few words about one of my more recent paintings which turned out way more green than I originally anticipated. The idea cam from a phot I saw of a barren tree stump in the middle of a forest. And it appeared (at least to me),  that the tree had been sawed to the ground.
Somehow, that seemed unjust.
So I decided to paint my own interpretation of it, putting the stump on more of a hill with a few other stumps in the foreground. I created a clearing of sorts on the hill, looking into the forest and I decided to bring back the man in the hat, this time standing on top of the tree stump, hands on hips, staring into the forest.
It kind of makes me wonder what he’s thinking and why he’s there to begin with as he seems totally out of place. It’s kind of a man vs. nature type of setting and it’s hard to tell who’s winning. Clearly, nature overpowers the man – he is dwarfed by the trees around him. Yet standing on that stump gives him a certain significance as he has kind of a “what am I going to do next” type of stance to him.
It’s a big painting – 36″ x 48″ and when you see it in person, all that green jumps out and grabs you.
I don’t know if it’s among my best, but I like it and hope you do, too!
In the meantime, the video by London recording artist that features my artwork has now been viewed more than 2,000 times. If you haven’t seen it yet, please take a look – I think you’ll enjoy it! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RCxRpPiFOk8&feature=youtu.be
I’m also getting ready for my upcoming show at The Renaissance Airport Hotel here in St. Louis where I’ll be the featured artist of the month during June. I’ll have more on that later.
I have another painting currently in progress that if it turns out as I hope, may be my new favorite that I’ve done this year.
A few of my works have also been accepted onto a webstore called Artfully Walls where you can buy prints – though you can do the exact same thing on my pixels website
I continue to be baffled by my lack of sales – I’m certainly out there trying. I guess my art is just too weird and unexpected.
Oh, well, I keep on painting, oblivious to the fact that I’m not selling.
You see, even I can’t see the forest through the trees.

In addition to creating advertising and marketing for a wide range of clients, I also paint on the side. If you know anyone who you think might enjoy learning about my paintings and the stories behind them, please pass this along to them and invite them to sign up for my free newsletter.

Also, if my prices are keeping you from purchasing anything, know that you can order prints of my work, 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. I also invite you to follow me on Instagram to see work in progress from start to finish!

New music video by Liz Cirelli featuring my artwork

 

A still from the opening frame of a new music video featuring my artwork.

A still from the opening frame of a new music video featuring my artwork.

I am both thrilled and excited to announce that my artwork is being used in the release of Liz Cirelli’s newest music video called, “Bridgetower“.

So who is Liz Cirelli and how exactly did it come about that she is using my artwork for one of her music videos?

Liz is a London recording artist. In her own words, “I fuse the worlds of classical and electronic music into intricate, hypnotic and melody-driven moods – with a pinch of pop accessibility. It’s a blend of electronica, downtempo, dream pop and contemporary classical.”

Bridgetower is one of eleven new tracks on her latest release called “Awakening“. And Awakening is her 23rd release overall in a career that spans more than a decade. She is an accomplished artist with a large following across the pond.

I first ran across Liz via an email. She’s a creativity consultant and being a creative person, I’m always in pursuit of new knowledge. I read one of her blog posts and liked it and received an invitation to join her mailing list.

It was there that she made the announcement of her new, upcoming album release. I decided to give it a listen and I liked it. In fact, I liked it enough that I downloaded a few tracks and was actually listening to them as I painted.

Music is always on when I paint. I have several artists that I listen to over and over when I’m painting as their music just seems to fit the mood of my surrealistic endeavors. Fleet Foxes, Radiohead and Grizzly Bear are my most listened to favorites.

But the music by Liz struck a chord with me. I reached out to her and told her that I enjoyed listening to her music while I painted and I sent her a few images of paintings that I had done.

That began an on-going correspondence between us. Liz said she loved my work. I loved her music. When she asked if I would be interested in having my paintings featured in one of her music videos I was instantly interested.

She asked me to send her more painting images so she could decide which track she wanted them to accompany and ultimately, selected “Bridgetower” which was a collaborative effort with another recording artist named Minski.

When she sent me the track, I asked Tom Jr. to help out with creating the video. Tom laid the groundwork for the video, assembling most of the images as you see them now. Liz and her video editor then took over, incorporating some of my newer paintings.

Yesterday, Liz launched the video to her followers on Patreon. Today, I’m letting my readers on this newsletter have the first look.

This past Friday, Liz premiered the video to her extended community via social media and I’m in the process of doing so as well.

This is a huge step forward for me regarding exposure of my artwork to the world. I’ve been slowly building an audience on Instagram (please follow me if you don’t already!). I am approaching 30,000 views on my pixels website. I was recently invited to display my artwork on an international art website but that’s still in the approval mode so no links on that yet. And I’ll be ramping up for my solo show in June at the Renaissance Airport hotel.

I’ve been given a gift – a talent for creating art – it’s up to me to pursue it and keep trying to get better at what I do.

Sales are always welcome and someday, more will come. But for now, I will enjoy the fact that potentially hundreds of thousands of new people will get a chance to view what I do.

That’s pretty cool!

In addition to creating advertising and marketing for a wide range of clients, I also paint on the side. If you know anyone who you think might enjoy learning about my paintings and the stories behind them, please pass this along to them and invite them to sign up for my free newsletter.

Also, if my prices are keeping you from purchasing anything, know that you can order prints of my work, 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. I also invite you to follow me on Instagram to see work in progress from start to finish!

#willyoureadthis #makeitrelevant #toomanyhashtags

If you're not using hashtags in your social media postings, you're not doing the job that you could be.

If you’re not using hashtags in your social media postings, you’re not doing the job that you could be.

I’ve never taken a course in social media marketing and I guess that’s extremely evident from the number of views I get with this blog.

Then again, when your number of postings dwindles from weekly to monthly to #onceinabluemoon (the name of one of my paintings) you basically deserve to lose a lot of your audience.

But 2019 marks a major crossroads for me. I need to ramp up new business efforts for BloodLines Creative and that’s going to require on-going communications, pushed out to a variety of different social media platforms. It’s also going to demand that I get a much stronger handle on social media marketing techniques.

Part of that begins with my use of hashtags.

I’ll be the first to admit that I have never embraced hashtags and really didn’t have much of a handle (pardon the play on words) on the value of using #hashtagsinsocialmedia – primarily on twitter and Instagram.

But I am learning and I’m seeking to learn more – which ultimately is going to benefit the clients I serve as well as my own self interests.

Here are some generic reasons for using hashtags:

  1. Hashtags simplify the process – Searching a hashtag pulls results for each post using that hashtag. Using a hashtag helps you reach your target audience, and likewise makes it easier for others to find your information.
  2. Hashtags compel an action – When a user sees a post that is of interest, they will likely spend time looking through content brought up by the hashtag.
  3. Hashtags evolve – Hashtags are being used by more and more platforms, impacting the amount of information put directly in front of social media users.
  4. Hashtags reward the distinctive – Hashtags make finding information easier for social media users. A unique hashtag makes your message stand out to the users who find the hashtag valuable.

I have recently experienced firsthand the value of using hashtags via my own instagram account promoting my art – #tomblood_art

A few weeks ago, I sat in on a webinar designed to help artists better market their work. Being a marketer myself, you would think I’d be a natural at promoting my artwork. Turns out, I could have been doing so much better – not just via hashtags but also via my use of key words to describe the paintings I’ve done on my two websites: http://tom-blood.pixels.com and https://bloodlinesart.com

What works for promoting art will also work for promoting my gifts as a talented #greatcopywriter as well as my skills as a #marketingcommunicationsspecialist

I learned that any time I make a post on Instagram, it should have a minimum of eight hashtags that are pertinent to the work I am featuring. How many is too many? I’m not sure but when your hashtags are twice as long as your message, it does seem a bit much.

Still, those hashtags are driving eyeballs to my Instagram account. In the past two weeks, my number of followers has increased dramatically and now continues to rise daily. And they’re beginning to draw even more eyeballs to the many clients I serve when I post information for them.

Yes, I’m a bit of an old dog. But I’m learning new tricks.

Developing great creative and compelling copy has always been a strong trait of mine. Now, it’s time to pound the # signal even more.

Want compelling copy and cut through creative with your advertising and marketing communications. Want it for a fraction of what you’d pay compared to if you hired a full-service agency? Call BloodLines Creative today. You’ll be glad you did.

#successfulresults #greatcreative #creativecopywriting #stlouiswriter #getresults

 

 

Where did the surrealism go?

Two men shake hands in a snowstorm, set against a canopy of trees.

Two men shake hands in a snowstorm, set against a canopy of trees.

Anyone who regularly follows my work knows that I love surrealism, and love to add surrealistic elements into almost all of my paintings.

“The Agreement” contains no surrealistic images. It’s just two men, shaking hands in a snowstorm set against a forest background. Though there are no surrealistic elements to this painting, it does raise several questions in the viewer’s mind.

“Who are these gentlemen and why are they shaking hands?” is a good place to start. The answer to those questions is entirely up to the viewer.

The idea for the painting (it was finished in late November) came about as a result of a snowstorm that we had well before Thanksgiving. Having only done one other painting featuring snow, I decided snow would be my subject matter and in this particular painting, I wanted it to actually be snowing.

That’s when I decided to have two men greeting each other out in the midst of a snowstorm, set against a canopy of trees. This isn’t a particularly large painting (30″ x 24″) so it didn’t take me too long to rough in the trees.

Creating the foreground, with a blanket of snow also went quite quickly with just a few gradations that helped give a sense of depth to the image. When it came time to paint the two men, I decided one of them should have a beard. I gave them both overcoats which could have come from a by-gone era.

When I was finished painting the two gentlemen, it seemed like the setting could be somewhere in Europe – kind of a cold war feel to it. Or maybe it was more like a painting from the Civil War. Simply naming the painting, “The Agreement” builds in its own story line.

When I began adding in the falling snow, I realized that the trees in the background didn’t require any more detail. After all, there’s a blizzard going on – nothing should be clearly defined.

So this painting was deemed done and I moved onto the next one which took me considerably more time.

I like the simplicity of this painting. I like its starkness. I like its story appeal.

I hope you do, too!

If you know someone else who might enjoy hearing more about my paintings, please invite them to sign up for my free newsletter at http://bloodlinesart.com/email-newsletter Also, if you’d like to purchase prints of my work or have my work printed on items like iPhone covers, tote bags, coffee cups, shower curtains or a wide range of other items, please visit http://tom-blood.pixels.com Thanks and I wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, too!

A painting like this comes around, “Once In A Blue Moon”

A girl on a beach holding a bouquet of flowers stares out at the moon ... which is actually a blue rose!

A girl on a beach holding a bouquet of flowers stares out at the moon … which is actually a blue rose!

As I look back on this painting, technique-wise I think it’s one of the finest ones I’ve done this year. It’s such an unusual painting – (especially for me) and I’m hoping that there’s built in-story appeal to the visual.
Previously, I had done a grand total of four paintings featuring females.
I’ve always thought of myself as something of a hack when it comes to painting or drawing females, going back to a drawing class I took at Mizzou where we had live female models. My drawings always did them a great disservice.
Yet I was excited about the prospects of painting this surrealistic image. The idea behind this one came from a variety of sources, as many of my paintings do. I was paging through one of my Rene Magritte books and ran across one of his coolest paintings called, “The Tomb of the Wrestlers”. It features a giant red rose, overwhelming an empty room. The rose is almost the height of the room itself, boxed in by two blank walls while the third wall features a window, draped by some red curtains. So I decided I wanted to do something with a rose. But what? I have no desire to copy Magritte, I merely like to emulate him.
So I kept searching. Many of my paintings have some water aspect to them and the sea at night seemed interesting. So I began searching for images of ocean scapes at night – which led me to several photos featuring the moon. That’s when it hit me – I would show a blue moon only in its place, I would feature a rose. I knew there were blue roses, just like there are blue moons.
Once I had that core idea in mind, I thought of having the man in the bowler hat staring out at the moon but that seemed slightly out of whack. So I decided it should be a young girl. Then I decided that not only should she be staring out at the blue moon, but she should be holding a bouquet of flowers in her hands as well.
Were they given to her? Were they from someone who had gone away on a voyage and left her behind?
My initial working title for the painting was “Flower Girl”.
When I was just about done, the name of the painting came to me in my sleep. “Once In A Blue Moon“.
The actual painting had its own challenges – trying to paint a glowing blue rose in the night and giving the entire painting a night time feel. I struggled with the sky and the reflection on the water. I added a few large rocks to the shore but at one point, there were considerably more. I painted over all of them, keeping just a few rocks, bleeding off the edges of the painting.
The young girl went through considerable changes and most, were for the better. I wanted her hands to be delicate and I wanted the bouquet of flowers to stand out. I was pretty happy with both as well as the multi-colors of her dress that echoed the color palette of the rest of the painting.
The size of this painting is 30″ x 40”. It’s quite striking when you see it up close and would look great in a frame and on someone’s wall.
You can order prints at my other web site: http://tom-blood.pixels.com
You can also order the image on a variety of items – tote bags look pretty cool, notebook covers, iPhone covers, even yoga mats.
It was a joy to paint, even though it had its moments … they all do!

In addition to creating advertising and marketing communications by day, I also paint by night and have established quite a following of the artwork I create. If you know someone who might enjoy reading more about my process and getting updates on what I’ve been up to, please invite them to sign up for my newsletter at http://tblood.faso.com/email-newsletter

No Exit – a play on words

No Exit is the title of this painting as well as the classic play by Jean Paul Sartre.

No Exit is the title of this painting as well as the classic play by Jean Paul Sartre.

Many people ask where I get my ideas to create new paintings and the explanation is – everywhere.
I often will peruse stock photography, looking for striking images. Pinterest is actually a great source of inspiration as I follow all sorts of art-related topics.
Recently, I ran across a photo which was so striking, I simply had to paint it and put my own spin on it. It was a photo very similar to what you see painted here, same basic set up, same kind of ugly color palette. The photo also contained an image of a man, hanging upside down, only he was facing the camera. I decided to replace that man with my man in the bowler hat, back to you, hanging upside down, hat still very much intact on his head.
There was something about the color scheme of this painting that reminded me of my grade school that had cinder block hallways that most times were painted about the same color as this newsletter. But for a brief period, they were this sickly kind of green you see reflected in the stairwell.
The harshness of the neon light was another thing I remember.
So this particular painting is more or less a recreation of a photograph, which, the moment I decided I was going to paint it, I knew the title of the painting had to be, “No Exit”.
Though the painting has little to do with the Jean Paul Sartre play, for some reason, the setting reminds me of a different kind of hell, where one is forever trapped in a building with no real exit and the world is literally turned upside down – which is actually how I painted the image of the man – with the canvas turned upside down.
The size of this painting gives it a dominance that immediately grabs your attention. It’s 36″ x 48″ and though I have no idea where this painting might ever actually hang, I do know that whoever might buy it would have a very striking image that would be sure to spark quite a few conversations.
We will see if this one ever manages to exit our home! Regardless, I like it simply because it is a strikingly weird visual.

Thanks for reading. You can view most of my recent paintings at https://bloodlinesart.com or you can purchase prints or items featuring my art at http://tom-blood.pixels.com If you or anyone else you know might enjoy reading about the art work I do and getting a behind-the-scenes look into my process, please  sign up for my newsletter at http://tblood.faso.com/email-newsletter … Happy November!

Is this surrealism? Thoughts behind “Somewhere in Belgium”

Night and day in the same setting gives this tribute painting to Rene Magritte a surrealistic feel.

Night and day in the same setting gives this tribute painting to Rene Magritte a surrealistic feel.

At first glance, my most recent painting doesn’t appear to be surrealistic at all. Yet anyone who is at all familiar with the works of the Belgian surrealist, Rene Magritte would immediately recognize traces of his work.

The statue in the painting is a depiction of the character that shows up in many of Magritte’s paintings. The bowler hat theme appears more than 50 times in his work between 1926 and 1966, making it one of the motifs for which the Belgian Surrealist is best known. These abundant bowler-hatted gents were used as stand-ins for generic, bourgeois men, the sort who wouldn’t stand out.

“The bowler hat poses no surprise,” Magritte said in 1966. “It is a headdress that is not original. The man with the bowler is just a middle-class man in his anonymity. And I wear it. I am not eager to singularize myself.”

I have explored many of Magritte’s concepts and ideas in my own, peculiar style. I recently ran across a framer who worked in the art gallery where I had my first show and he said he walked into 1900 Park two years ago and immediately recognized my work. “Your style is unlike any other painter I’ve seen,” he told me.

Whether that’s true is highly debatable. I continue to try and paint the impossible – or at least the highly improbable. And traces of Magritte will continue to show up in my paintings.

When I heard that I was going to be featured in the Ladue News and that the featured painting would be “Memories of June” – another Magritte-based image, perhaps my subconscious propelled me to create this tribute painting to my favorite artist.

Maybe there is a touch of surrealism in depicting a man in a bowler hat, sitting on a bench, staring at a statue of a man in a bowler hat. The base of the statue features Magritte’s birth and death dates and the inscription is in Dutch and reads, “HERE STANDS THE MAN”.

Lions and owls showed up in many of Magritte’s paintings. So they got their own statues. Perhaps the one quality that puts this particular painting in the Surrealist column is the presence of Night and Day in the same setting.

Everything below the sky is painted in bright, daytime colors. Yet the sky, with its quarter moon above, is distinctly night time. That combination of Night and Day was another concept Magritte explored in several paintings.

So in answer to the question found in the headline, yes, this really is surrealism.

It was great fun to create, though quite tedious as it’s one of the more detailed paintings I’ve done. This particular painting may never find a home other than my own.

That’s okay. It was my tribute to Magritte. It is fitting that I should remain the owner.

Tom’s art can be viewed and purchased at two different websites: www.bloodlinesart.com and http://tom-blood.pixels.com – on the latter website, you can purchase prints as well as a variety of items like tote bags, pillow throws, iPhone covers and much more. Please visit!