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!

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!

Four of my paintings find a new home

Any time I sell a painting, I’m both amazed, happy and a bit sad, as well.
Sales of my paintings have never really been prolific – especially on my bloodlinesart.com website – in fact, my total sales to date have amounted to the null set.

But maybe that is beginning to change. A recent instagram post promoting my work on my website attracted hundreds of new followers. That was fun to watch.

Artsy_Shark has thousands of art-loving followers who recently saw this post promoting my painting work.

Artsy_Shark has thousands of art-loving followers who recently saw this post promoting my painting work.

The other day, I received an inquiry via my website from an art curator in New Mexico. It turns out a collector right here in St. Louis – who just so happens to be one of the largest collectors of modern art in the Midwest, visited my website, liked what he saw and asked about purchasing ten of my paintings.

Yes, ten!

I actually met this collector through a new business presentation I was attending and I told him about my art. I followed up with an email inviting him to take a look and lo and behold, he did.

For now, I have sold four paintings, each of which has its own unique story:

Agents Orange was done back in 1994. I still have some t-shirts featuring that painting that were sold as part of one of my Creative Gallery Shows. The original thought behind that was that instead of cacti in the desert, I would instead have men dressed in black. It has been hanging in the Blood household for many years. I hope it finds a good new place to hang!

Men take the place of cacti in a barren desert setting.

Men take the place of cacti in a barren desert setting.

Stairway to Heaven was a surprise purchase. It’s an odd painting and the men in black are somewhat cartoonish. Still, there’s something about the characters that has a storyline in it – it’s almost as if they’re resigned to beginning the climb. In one way or another, we’re all climbing, each day.

Men in black began a long ascent into who knows where.

Men in black began a long ascent into who knows where.

Bridge to Nowhere was a simplistic, minimalist thought that popped into my head one evening while I was sleeping. The painting that resulted is almost an exact replica of what I thought, right on down to the missing planks in the bridge. I am still working to become a better painter of clouds. To me, Magritte is the best painter of clouds I have ever seen. I continue to work on getting better at skies and believe that is happening – though in a different manner than Magritte portrayed them.

An old wooden bridge stretches from one cloud to another.

An old wooden bridge stretches from one cloud to another.

The Pier was a fun painting to create with the sky reflecting in the water. It’s always interesting when I take my man in his bowler hat and put him among the elements, oftentimes, dwarfed by all around him.

A man in a bowler hat sits at the end of a pier staring off into either the sunset or sunrise, waiting for what's next.

A man in a bowler hat sits at the end of a pier staring off into either the sunset or sunrise, waiting for what’s next.

The collector is interested in purchasing more. The curator, after viewing my website, is promoting it to a few of her other clients. Word is beginning to spread.

In the meantime, I will continue to try and get better with each new painting I undertake. I just unveiled my latest painting on my BloodLinesArt and http:tom-blood.pixels.website

Initial reaction has been very positive but I’ve already begun the next painting, trying to stay on a painting per month timeline. I am trying to do a better job of marketing my art. In the meantime, I have been ramping up new efforts for BloodLines Creative. I have been fortunate to continue to get new business without having to actively pursue too much. That is no way to run a business.

One must always be on the hunt, always in pursuit of what’s next. Sometimes, things do fall into your lap. But the old adage is true: the harder I try, the luckier I get.

Stay tuned, because there’s lots of new news on the horizon!

Portions of the above recently appeared in my bloodlinesart e-newsletter. I figured I might as well push out as a blog as well since readership of both my e-newsletter as well as this blog could use a few more eyeballs. Thanks for feasting yours on this piece!

BloodLines Creative needs a blog post every now and then, too

Blogs are always more fun when they have a picture so here's a view of my most recent painting.

Blogs are always more fun when they have a picture so here’s a view of my most recent painting.

It’s been a busy stretch of work these past few months for BloodLInes Creative.

There has been an assortment of video projects, video shoots and a few photo shoots, as well.

I’ve been blogging away on behalf of three great clients who I continue to not mention simply because I don’t want other agencies or freelancers knocking at their doors.

We’re about to launch a new client website and for another client, we’re going to be launching an e-commerce website which has been a real learning experience for everyone involved. It’s very close to launch. Very, very close!

My artistic endeavors continue, having recently won the People’s Choice award at a recent MySLArt.org 33 Show and with two entries about to debut tomorrow night at The Soulard Art Gallery. My artist website, http:tom-blood.pixels.com has climbed above the 20,000 view mark and sales continue to surprise me from time to time with people buying assorted items featuring my artwork. And yes, I’m continuing to enjoy painting and always trying to get better at what I do. I’m hopeful that next year, I will be able to garner another solo show, featuring all new works since my last solo show at 1900 Park.

New business activities have resulted in a variety of new partnerships and new clients – and there are more on the horizon.

And yes, it is officially now summer so there’s going to be some golf-time built in.

I’m no longer going to apologize for the lack of blog posts. Nor am I going to vow to do more.

Like I said, BloodLines Creative needs a blog post every now and then, too.

This was it.

A writer’s gotta write – part two

The other day, I picked up one of my three print portfolios, opened it up and took a look.

What a fun blast from the past, looking at print ads, outdoor boards, direct mail pieces and company image brochures that I’ve created through the years.

It got me thinking about how fortunate I’ve been to be able to continue to pursue my passion for creating advertising and marketing communications for such a wide and diverse array of clients.

I literally have hundreds of samples. So many, that I can no longer fit them into three different portfolios. So there are also boxes of print and collateral work, along with award programs, award certificates, DVDs of TV commercials and various videos, CDs of radio spots and other reminders that I sure have written a boatload of communications.

Over the past few months, I’ve had the opportunity to create work for some major brand names that just about everyone in St. Louis and a lot of the world has heard of before. Mix in work for some much smaller clients that are in a variety of industries, along with some pro bono work for a charitable organization that I’ve been involved with for a few years as well as creating the invite and reminders for the annual Ad Club Fall Golf Classic and it’s been a very enjoyable juggling act the past few months.Screenshot 2018-05-16 07.17.13The only thing that doesn’t keep growing is this blog. I’ve put it on the back shelf, along with updating my website with some more current work.

These days, you rarely get print samples – if you get to do any print work at all. So many things transpire in the digital world and I simply don’t bother to update my client list or work samples. Nor do I blog too much about the daily trials and tribulations I go through trying to get work, create work, and then get more work.

Most times, that process simply doesn’t seem interesting enough to merit any mention. The work always does a strong job of delivering the client’s brand personality in a compelling and very focused way and I really should promote it more. But I’m often hesitant to reveal current clients, fearing that some bigger agency will come in and try and swoop it up. And when the day is done and evening rolls around, most times, I’m done with writing for the day and much prefer pursuing my other passion – painting.

That needs its own separate marketing effort, further putting my blogging into a secondary or even tertiary role.

That’s why there simply isn’t a regular flow of blog articles coming out of BloodLines Creative. A writer’s gotta write. Unfortunately, most times, it simply isn’t for this blog.

Thanks for reading anyway!

 

Reigniting my love affair with creating radio commercials

I have the privilege of being a guest speaker at Walt Jaschek‘s radio ad production course that he teaches through the Webster University School of Communications.

During my one-hour presentation, I’ll be sharing some of my all-time favorite radio commercials that I have produced through the years. Sad to say, there are no recent spots that I’ll be sharing. It’s not that I’ve lost my skill-set for creating radio commercials that stand out, get noticed and acted upon. I simply don’t have the client list that does broadcast advertising anymore.

And that’s a shame. Radio has always been one of my favorite modes of advertising. I’ve probably written and produced more than 200 radio commercials throughout my career. I’ve had the opportunity to create memorable spots for a wide variety of clients – here’s a short list …

The Missouri Division of Tourism; St. Louis Science Center, St. Louis Baseball Cardinals, Six Flags, AAA Insurance, Charter Communications, The Pasta House Company, Missouri Division of Highways Safety – I could go on and on but I won’t.

No matter what the client, service or product, I always sought to deliver their key message in some attention-getting, memorable way.

I’ve done a jingle or two. I’ve done humor. I’ve done drama. I’ve been hollered at by Peter Graves and Jack Buck – all in the pursuit of creating radio commercials that cut through, are memorable and that get the cash register or the phone to ring.

Creating great radio commercials involves the ultimate theater of the mind. Through words, sound effects, music and the talent you choose you can paint a picture in someone’s head and if you do it right, plant a seed as well that gets that person to act.

Going through the radio reel that exists on my website as well as raiding my archives made me realize just how much I miss both writing and producing radio spots. It’s a talent I have that has gone untapped for too long.

I wish there were some car dealer out there or local retailer who wants to reach a very targeted audience and knows they could be doing better with their radio efforts. Maybe there’s a new product or service that needs launching. Maybe a local golf course is tired of seeing their number of players continue to go down. Whoever, whatever, I could virtually guarantee that I could do a better job than anything they’ve ever done before.

I just need someone to pick up the phone and call me.

This operator is standing by.

“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.

Where have I gone?

For someone who had built up a fairly decent following with this blog, one has to wonder, why did I stop?

My last post was January 18.

“Bumstead, you’re fired!”

I know the world isn’t waiting for my next blog post.

Thought leadership? I haven’t been sharing much recently, even when I do get around to posting.

The fact of the matter is, I simply haven’t devoted the time that this blog deserves. I do have my excuses – between moving to a new house, getting the old one ready to go on the market, handling an influx of new business while tending to existing clients, trying to keep up my painting and the marketing of those paintings – I simply haven’t had the burning desire to crank out a blog post that might be read by maybe 100 people.

My apologies to you 100 people who have faithfully read many of the trials and tribulations that I’ve written since beginning this diatribe about seven years ago.

It’s not that I’ve stopped blogging. This past month, I’ve written five different blog entries – just none of them have been for myself.

And no, I’m not throwing in the towel on this blog.

In the past, I have vowed to blog more often. I’m not vowing that now.

I’m just vowing that there will be more. Hopefully, it won’t be another month or so until I pick up where this one leaves off.

A writer’s gotta write

2018 is off to a great start, but in the coming weeks, I hope it gets even better with a variety of assignments that would spin most ordinary heads.

Blogging. Video scripting. Website content creation. Speech writing. Print ads. Email marketing. Pay-per-click ads. Direct marketing. All for different clients and all tied back to delivering the brand.

What’s missing? Well, I sure would welcome the opportunity to create some cut-through radio ads and develop some local TV commercials that would truly stand out amidst the sea of mediocrity that litters our airwaves.

But I’m not complaining. I love to write. And I love to write just about anything as I am insatiably curious and love to find creative solutions to whatever marketing or advertising challenge I may face.

All of this requires an inherent ability to ramp up quickly on a subject so that i can quickly grasp the key messaging that needs to be delivered and then deliver it – in an unexpected, surprising and memorable way.

I don’t always hit home runs. And I certainly don’t accomplish everything on my own as I continue to be blessed by working with a talented team of designers, developers, editors, account people and best of all – clients.

BloodLines Creative is now in its seventh year. We’ve been staying quite busy. But there’s plenty of room for more.

If your business would benefit from big idea thinking, BloodLines Creative can be the communications partner you thought you couldn’t afford. Put us to the test. You will not be disappointed.

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.