Painting a memory

The shirt seen ’round the world

Look in the crowd, a little to the right of the middle and I'm the guy wearing the shirt with the Blue note on it.

Look in the crowd, a little to the right of the middle and I’m the guy wearing the shirt with the Blue note on it.

How does one assure that you’ll stand out in a crowd of about 35,000 people at a Major Golf Championship? You wear the Blue note.

That was my plan as Chris and I embarked for an epic vacation to Ireland and Scotland that would include attending The Open, held at Royal Port Rush Golf Club in Northern Ireland as well as playing The Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland.

How it all came about, resulting in the photo you see above is somewhat amazing, involving two of my fellow Blue Buddies from St. Louis U High and an ancestral journey that my wife, Chris, made to Ireland about seven years ago with her mom.

I guess I’ll start there as Chris and I would have probably never made this trip had she not first gone across the pond with her mum (we’ll use the English vernacular) to see if they could find any ties to her mum’s grandfather who hailed from a town called Ballymoney. The trip was a success, including their stay at a Bed & Breakfast. Two years ago, while Chris and I were watching The Open, a promo came on announcing future sites for The Open which included this year’s event that would return to Northern Ireland for the first time in 52 years at The Royal Port Rush Golf Club.

Chris said the site of The Open was less than 15 minutes from Ballymoney and that she would check to see if we could stay at the same Bed & Breakfast.

It was available – so that set our travel plans in motion which we expanded to include a round of our own at the birthplace of golf, St. Andrews in Scotland. Chris was quite the travel planner as she blocked out and booked all aspects of our journey. The week before, as we were discussing what all we should pack based on temperatures in Northern Ireland and Scotland at this time of year, I mentioned I was going to wear the Blue note. I know I could have opted for a Cardinals jersey but saluting the Stanley Cup Champions on a completely different continent seemed like the right thing to do.

Chris and I, striking a pose with the Open logo on the grounds of Royal Port Rush.

Chris and I, striking a pose with the Open logo on the grounds of Royal Port Rush.

I was hoping that someone, somewhere might notice. Turns out that someone did. Dave Hemenway, one of my high school classmates from SLUH was watching The Open on an early Saturday morning from his home in Cary, North Carolina and noticed someone wearing a Blues jersey behind the 6th green.

He got out his phone and snapped my image from the TV coverage and sent it along to another class of ’76 grad, Pat Leahy, who’s one of my golf buddies. Dave’s message to Pat – “Look in the gallery”

And there I was, right next to Chris, proudly wearing my Blues shirt. I don’t think it drew any comments from the TV analysts. But it did get noticed. And now, through the power of social media, will get noticed a bit more.

It’s a small world after all.

A little recognition and the quest to get better

A photo of the recent Art & Soul article that appeared in the September 7th edition of the Ladue News - a free weekly paper here in the metro St. Louis area.

A photo of the recent Art & Soul article that appeared in the September 7th edition of the Ladue News – a free weekly paper here in the metro St. Louis area.

This past weekend, I had the honor of being the featured artist in the Art & Soul column in the Ladue News – a free weekly circulation paper that goes out to about 22,000 people in the metro St. Louis area.
It was a fun article to read though I was a bit disappointed that the columnist got my website incorrect, leaving out the ‘s’ in bloodlinesart
Still, some publicity is always better than no publicity and having “Memories of June” be the featured work makes me happy as that particular painting is one of my recent favorites that I’ve done.
As 2018 continues to roll along with summer yielding to fall, I have been trying to create one painting a month – whether or not that sounds like a little or a lot, it’s been a lot for me as each painting takes me anywhere from about 40 to 60 hours to create and sometimes more as my most recent painting I just completed went well over that total.
My process is not a quick one. But I feel as if it’s something that I am continuing to fine tune and get better with each painting I undertake. I’ve become more demanding of my brush work. Yet I know I have so far to go.
I also feel as if I’ve only begun to touch the surface of true surrealism – and in the coming months and paintings, I hope to become even more symbolic and build in more mystery with each painting I create.
If you’ve never been to my fine artist website, I invite you to give it a look at www.bloodlinesart.com (with an ‘s’!) and if you’d ever like to buy prints or purchase my art on items like iPhone covers, pillow throws, tote bags, greeting cards or a variety of other items then please visit http://tom-blood.pixels.com
Thanks for coming along for the journey and stay tuned … there’s a lot more to come!

“View from Above” Finds A New Home

Here's the 24" x 30" painting, "View from Above" hanging on an office wall.

Here’s the 24″ x 30″ painting, “View from Above” now hanging on an office wall.

It’s been more than a year since I had my solo art show at 1900 Park. Since that time, I have created nine new paintings and will soon be wrapping up my tenth. If I were painting for a living, I would truly define the term ‘starving artist’.

But I don’t paint for a living. I paint because I can. Somewhere in me is a God-given talent that I feel as if I actually owe it to myself to keep on painting and keep trying to get better at what I do. I owe so much of this renewed commitment to my son, Tom, Jr.

Four Father’s Day’s ago, he gave me two small canvasses and some paint and challenged me to resume what I had set aside for more than 17 years. After much trepidation and fear of I don’t know what, I jumped back in and I’ve basically had a canvas in the works ever since. I have two websites. One, I don’t promote at all and nobody visits. It’s http://bloodlinesart.com

The other site, I’ve been trying to promote more regularly and on occasion, I do get a sale or two of items featuring my artwork. (http://tom-blood.pixels.com)

Actual sales of my paintings continue to be somewhat of a rarity. I know I choose rather unusual subject matter. So much of today’s art is a mishmash of colors and shapes. I prefer to paint ideas and really enjoy painting what is seemingly impossible. A staircase that winds its way above the clouds. A girl holding a giant, floating boulder. A symphony conductor standing atop a giant wave, conducting the elements.

Is my work simply too off-the-wall to actually be hung on someone's wall?

Is my work simply too off-the-wall to actually be hung on someone’s wall?

So it was a pleasant surprise when I received a Facebook Messenger inquiry asking about purchasing one of my more recent paintings titled “A View from Above“. I was more than happy to oblige and after a few back and forths, we arranged a time and place to drop off the painting.

I was sorry to see it go as it was going to occupy a nice spot in our new home, but I was actually quite thrilled that somebody was willing to take that leap of faith and buy the painting, get it framed and hang it proudly in his office.

He told me that the painting really grabbed his attention and how he identified with it. In fact, he told me that he created a bit of prose to go along with the painting and when I asked if I could share it, he said, “Absolutely.”

Here’s what it says …

FROM ABOVE

When I look to the sky
To a place where there is no night
What do I see, when clouds opt
Not to block my sight at the place
Where the sun holds reign over the moon

How do I fit into this orb’s cycle of life?
The struggle of one so minimal,
To the other billions’ strife

So small I feel when looking
To distances far away,
Into galaxies unreachable in tens
Of thousands of unending days

How do I reconcile these feelings
Of those things that seem important
Although they are not

To be a part of this small world,
On an almost insignificant dot
I do have one simple and clear thought –

Rejoice in the journey –
not just the view from the top

To me, it’s an honor to sell a painting of mine and I hope it sparks many a conversation. It’s even cooler when I know that something that I’ve done has struck an emotional chord in someone.

Magritte loved to create mystery with his paintings – to make you think and wonder why. I love to do that as well. I love to paint the impossible and make it seem at least somewhat probable.

A conductor standing on top of a wave conducting the elements? Impossible. Yes.

A conductor standing on top of a wave conducting the elements? Impossible. Yes.

I am finding my own voice as a painter. I believe that I am continuing to get better. And I believe it’s simply a matter of time before more sales start rolling in. But even if they don’t …

I shall continue.

Most of Tom’s artwork can be found on http://tom-blood.pixels.com On that site, you can purchase original paintings or buy a variety of prints of his art in a variety of sizes. You can also purchase items like iPhone covers, battery chargers, coffee cups, pillow throws, shower curtains, tote bags and even greeting cards all featuring the artwork of Tom Blood – at very affordable prices. When he’s not painting by night, Tom creates attention-getting, brand-building advertising and marketing communications via BloodLines Creative, now in its eighth year.

Welcome to Missouri, the only state in the country on Fodor’s Do Not Travel list

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Fodor's has the entire state of Missouri on its No List for 2018. I completely disagree.

Fodor’s has the entire state of Missouri on its No List for 2018. I completely disagree.

I never realized what a dangerous, backward, unfriendly state I live in. But there it was, on the inside pages of yesterday’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch, stating that Fodor’s, the internationally-recognized travel advisory company had listed Missouri as the only state in the USA to make Fodor’s No LIst 2018.

That certainly makes the job for Hoffman Lewis, who I believe still handles the advertising for the great state of Missouri, more formidable.

The article struck me as hard to believe and somewhat akin to a bunch of blind men describing an elephant. Depending upon where you stand, your view can be radically altered.

I’ve been to about 40 of our 50 states. Yet I am certainly not qualified to blacklist an entire state based on some limited opinions and generalities. According to Fodor’s, here’s why they recommend that no visitor should set foot in the state of Missouri:

“Missouri is the place where SB 43 was passed making it more difficult to sue employers for discrimination, a state representative argued that homosexuals weren’t human beings, a tourist who got lost and ran out of gas was later found murdered in his jail cell without ever being put under arrest, and two men were hunted down and shot on suspicion of being Muslim on the outskirts of Kansas City. And that’s just in 2017.

Those are just a few of the startling headlines from the state that prompted the Missouri chapter of the NAACP to advise tourists to skip this state and the “looming danger” for visitors when they’re touring United States.

Missouri has “a separate standard of laws that are only applicable to some people,” Nimrod Chapel, Jr., head of the Missouri chapter of the NAACP, told Fodor’s. He includes people of color, women, the disabled, senior citizens, foreigners, and people of faith as among those who are discriminated against.

He further cautions against the manner in which these laws are policed in the state. “Not everyone dies after an encounter with law enforcement, and we wouldn’t suggest that. But there [are] so many negative outcomes that would indicate that there’s some bias in the way that their laws are enforced that we think that people have to be aware of the danger and, you know, decide for themselves.”

Thanks a lot Fodor’s.

Based on the opinion of some Nimrod, they’re now saying that anyone who happens to be a person of color (not specified what color), a female, someone who’s disabled, a senior citizen, foreigner or a person who believes in any type of religion, you best stay away from the Show Me state.

If you just so happen to be a 65+, disabled, African nun from the Republic of Ghana, well, you may never get out of here alive according to Fodor’s.

C’mon, Fodor’s. You owe the great state of Missouri and all the people who are working hard to overcome all of the negatives that have been hurled at this state in the past few years a major apology.

The metro St. Louis area has more than its share of problems. Yes, there still is a racial divide here, just as there is a serious economic divide. But there are so many good things happening as well and those items just don’t get the news time they deserve.

The murder they reference in Kansas City actually took place in Kansas. And from everything I’ve heard, Kansas City has made dramatic strides as a community that’s not only a great place to live, it’s a great place to visit.

Having an entire state on a travel company’s No List is a farce. They don’t know what it’s like to enjoy a weekend in the Ozarks and probably don’t even know where it is.

Personally, I’m contacting Fodor’s to let them know of my disgust. They have a Forum and I intend to register and post my opinion. And I will never be purchasing any travel-related guides that bear their name again.

And if, by chance, you were planning on a trip to the Taj Mahal or Everest this year, Fodor’s recommends against it – but with a little more actual reasons since the Taj Mahal is being completely re-furbished and most of it is under wraps while with Everest, their reason for not going is simply that too many people die on their quest. Especially if they’re a 65+, African nun from the Republic of Ghana.

That’s what I think, how about you?

In addition to providing advertising and marketing communications services by day via BloodLines Creative, Tom sometimes writes about what interests him, especially when it comes to all things St. Louis. He is also dedicated to becoming a better surrealist painter, trying to paint the impossible. He invites you to visit his work at his Pixels website, or via his BloodLines Art website. His work can also be viewed on Pinterest, Saatchi Art and on the mobile app, Art Loupe.

A dramatic ‘before’ and ‘after’ with BloodLines Art

About two weeks ago I worked with Scott Schaefer as we set up a mini photo studio in our basement and shot more than 80 of my paintings. Scott has his own company where he markets classic Winchester hunting artwork, selling vintage posters online. It’s a thriving business and he has found a definite market niche.

I’ve been hoping to find a market niche of my own with my artwork. Currently, I have two different websites – https://bloodlinesart.com/ and https://tom-blood.pixels.com/

My bloodlinesart website seems to only be visited by other artists. And not that often. I haven’t really done any full-fledged marketing efforts to promote it and when renewal time comes around, I’m probably going to cancel it. There are lots of other places where I can showcase my art that I haven’t fully taken advantage of to date.

The pixels website, which is also called Fine Art America, has done a lot better as far as visitation. About two weeks ago, I was nearing my 10,000th visitor. They come from around the world. I’ve had views from China, Russia, Germany, the UK, France, Italy, India – and that’s just to name a few as well as people from all over the U.S.

The fun thing about the pixels website is that you can order items featuring my artwork on pillows, tote bags, iPhone cases, shower curtains and a variety of other items. Unfortunately, sales have been less than lucrative.

So I decided to try and become a bit more professional with the presentation of my art and Scott got me going with the hi-res digital images he took. But that’s just for starters as he showed me a number of photoshop treatments all designed to make your photography sharper than ever.

Here’s a pic of one of my paintings before:

A true, 'before' picture.

A true, ‘before’ picture.

And here is the same painting that was digitally photographed and saved in a much higher resolution format. (The image is a higher resolution than the download of this site allows.)

https://tom-blood.pixels.com/featured/white-thomas-blood.html

I’ve tried saving my ‘WHITE’ painting image in smaller sizes but with no luck. So please click the link to see the vibrant color and sharp detail that will now be present with virtually all of the images that I have featured on my pixels site. (While you’re there, I encourage you to see many of the other paintings I’ve done!)

To date, I’ve uploaded about 14 of them – so I have a long way to go. But already, the number of visitors has skyrocketed as I’ve had more than 1,000 new views since I began re-uploading my images. I wish I could say that the sales have skyrocketed, too. Not yet.

But I’m hopeful. I plan on launching a new e-commerce site sometime before the holiday season officially kicks off where people will be able to order prints of my work direct from me. Scott will handle the printing and shipping and together we’ll both profit.

I have a lot of fun creating my art. I hope to soon begin having more fun (and success) in my efforts to sell it.

 

 

Volkswagen gets it right this time

A few weeks ago I lambasted Volkswagen for their ‘Birds and the Bees’ commercial in which a couple love to procreate in their VW, eventually, needing a bigger model to accommodate their growing family – hence the need for the new seven-seater VW Atlas model.

Now, I’m here to sing their praises as they’ve taken another iconic song, this one Simon & Garfunkel’s classic, “America” and set it to a story that is both moving and beautifully told.

The first version I saw was 60-seconds. Here’s a link to the full :90 Volkswagen Atlas commercial – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rpq4NXtokNU

Not only is it a masterful telling of a story that connects generations, it’s also some brilliant editing of the song, making the most of the lyrics that are applicable to a cross-country voyage while cutting out the parts about being on a bus and smoking cigarettes.

One of the scenes from a new VW Atlas commercial using Simon & Garfunkel's 'America' song.

One of the scenes from a new VW Atlas commercial using Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘America’ song.

I was drawn into the story immediately. An immigrant father’s dying wish – for his wife to see America courtesy of their daughter and her own family. We see them leaving New York city behind and they’re off on their journey in the new roomy VW Atlas. Of course, that is never mentioned. They simply let the visuals of the cross-country trek unwind, managing to get in a few on-the-road shots as well as interior shots.

But it’s not about the car, it’s about the experience. We see the granddaughter, bonding with her grandmother and getting reassured from her mother that everything’s going to be okay. We’re along for the ride as we get to see the entire family taking the time to experience the many sights and sounds that America has to offer.

Sure, it’s a little sappy. But the cinematography is gorgeous. The on-going story, told through a few snippets of family interaction between various family members evolves and pulls you in. This isn’t meant to be Aunt Edna strapped to the roof of the Griswold family truckster. When they reach the coast of California and Grandma sets Grandpa’s ashes free into the Pacific ocean, I didn’t feel like the story had been trivialized.

And this time, the payoff of “Life’s as big as you make it. The all new 7-seater Volkswagen Atla” made perfect sense to me. I felt better toward Volkswagen as a company. I only wish that it had been Chevy that had jumped on this song and told the story rather than some German manufacturer.

But I don’t blame them for borrowing a bit of Americana and a classic American song called “America” to try and sell vehicles here in the good ole U.S.A. – that’s what commercialism is all about. And this one gets four stars in my playbook.

Watch the commercial. Then let me know what you think.

BloodLines Creative provides advertising and marketing communications support to a variety of consumer, B2B, non-profit and government-related clients. No project is too big, no budget is too small. If you’re looking for big idea thinking, you’ve come to the right place.

 

 

 

City-County divide helps kick MLS out of St. Louis

It was an artist's rendering and that's as far as it will get.

It was an artist’s rendering and that’s as far as it will get.

Today’s lead story in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch blamed the failure of the MLS stadium proposal on a large voter turnout in the City of St. Louis. That may be the case. But what really doomed the proposal is the same thing that continues to work against the St. Louis region as a whole – the separation of St. Louis City and St. Louis County.

We’ll never know for sure what would have happened had the two entities been one on this particular matter. So this is purely speculation on my part. Yet I’m convinced that had  St. Louis County been a part of this vote and had it been a single voting block of St. Louis County and St. Louis City instead of two separate entities, we’d be looking at a new stadium going up just west of Union Station.

As it was, passing two props was too much to ask of St. Louis City voters. With all that the City needs, putting the additional funding strictly on their shoulders was going to be a very tough sell. Helping to fund yet another stadium with a league that has been on shaky ground was a big enough leap of faith as it was.

Had the County been involved in the vote, even then, I’m not sure it would have passed and despite what St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger said about looking for ways to collaborate, something tells me that the city location of the stadium would have been its downfall with a County vote added to the mix.

Only when the City and County join forces will we truly see regional cooperation. Alas, I don’t think that’s going to happen in my lifetime. The divide is too deep. There are way too many kingdoms in the County that will continue to look out strictly for themselves at the expense of the rest of the region.

I know it’s not that simple.

I was bummed when the Rams left but we sealed our own fate when somebody created that lovely little opt-out in the lease. Now I’m bummed that there won’t be an MLS team to root for during the spring, summer and fall. MLS soccer would have been a fun alternative and addition to the Cardinals and with the soccer-rich tradition of St. Louis, I think the team would have caught on very quickly.

The plan would have gotten my vote.

I hope that someday, another plan will.

 

 

 

Removing Blood On The Walls

A few of the 40 paintings I had on display at 1900 Park

A few of the 40 paintings I had on display at 1900 Park – Creative Space and Gallery.

Yesterday was kind of a sad day as we removed the 40 paintings I had on display at 1900 Park – Creative Space and Gallery and Blood On The Walls is now a thing of the past.

All but one of the paintings made the return trip home and as we were lugging most of them into our basement, it bugged me that they were losing their public viewing place. Many of them have been returned to the stacks of paintings I have accumulated through the years and now won’t even be seen by anyone who visits our household.

We had more than 250 people attend the “Blood On The Walls” opening night reception. It was a magical evening and people truly seemed to enjoy the paintings, the music and the good times among friends. I received many compliments throughout the night on the work.

But only one buyer.

It’s hard to say if the paintings were overpriced as art is hard to put a price tag on and I’m also well aware that almost every painting I create has rather strange subject matter. I try and paint ideas. I’ve been trying to create more story appeal with my paintings or at least more mystery as to what is going on in the picture.

But it’s not exactly living room art.

Still, I don’t paint to sell. I paint because I can. I paint because it’s like a gift I have been given – and if I don’t paint, I am wasting that gift.

So I will continue to pursue more paintings based on conceptual ideas and continue to try and get better at what I do. I have completed two new paintings since the show’s opening night on March 3 and I’m about to start a new one that I’m excited to see how it develops.

Speaking of how my paintings develop, here’s a mini-slide show that features some of the steps involved in the process … https://www.facebook.com/BloodLines-Art-904202009683682/?hc_ref=PAGES_TIMELINE&fref=nf

This last show I had was my first solo show in more than 21 years. There’s no telling when the next one will be – hopefully sooner than 2038!

For now, if you went to the show and saw something you liked, it’s still available for purchase. You can see a lot of my work when you visit http://tom-blood.pixels.com

On that site you can also order prints of my work (at much lower prices than the paintings) as well as purchase my art on tote bags, iPhone cases, pillows, coffee mugs, t-shirts – even shower curtains.

Available for purchase at http://tom-blood.pixels.com

Available for purchase at http://tom-blood.pixels.com

Available for purchase at http://tom-blood.pixels.com

“Balloon Girls” throw pillow – http://tom-blood.pixels.com

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“Head In the Cloud” iPhone case – http://tom-blood.pixels.com

I invite you to explore the site – in less than a year, it’s had almost 10,000 visitors from around the world and I’ve made sales from California to New York so you’d be buying work from a nationally-renowned and internationally recognized artist if you do make a purchase.

Or, if you’d like to free a painting from the depths of our basement, let me know what you like, make me an offer and perhaps I’ll agree to let you give it a new home.

In the meantime, it’s back to work.

 

 

Get a room, Volkswagen!

Life's as big as you make it.

Life’s as big as you make it.

Volkswagen has a new commercial that I have already seen about 10 times and though I’m a fan of Dean Martin, I’m not a fan of this commercial.

Set to Dean’s rendition of “The Birds and the Bees” this spot was probably considered ‘cute’ and a throwback to VW’s days as a bit of a rebel. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UyPbpU3Smhg

Back in the hippie days, a couple going at it in a VW bug may have made sense. But with this timeline, it doesn’t really go back more than 8 years or so and the couple portrayed don’t exactly seem like they’re counter-culture. Dad just seems to have a weird thing about procreating in very tight spaces – rockin’ away in the VW bug at first resulting in a trip to the dealership for a larger VW. The process repeats itself and the happy, growing family continue to have mom and dad go at in the confines of their car. It concludes with another VW rocking away – presumably VWs are very fertile places – only it shows the entire happy family inside the vehicle causing enough of a commotion that they’re causing the car to sway back and forth on its apparently not very sturdy frame.

The commercial ends with the statement, “Life’s as big as you make it. Introducing the all new 7-seater Volkswagen Atlas.” Oh, I get it.

This commercial is trying too hard. Personally, I find it kind of obnoxious, too. In-between all of the Viagra and Cialis commercials, I now get this couple that loves to breed in a bug.

I’m not sure what the key selling points of the Volkswagen Atlas actually are. There are all kinds of vehicles that can seat 7 or more so that isn’t much of a sales pitch.

To me, Volkswagen simply isn’t getting enough bang for their buck.

And I certainly would never want to ride in the back seat of their vehicle.