One year – ten surrealistic paintings

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My first painting done in 2017.

Head In The Cloud – My first painting done in 2017.

With 2017 coming to a close, I decided to look back on all of the surrealistic paintings I’ve done this past year. Initially, I thought I was on my 12th painting, hoping to finish it before the year ends. Actually, I’m only on my 10th and I’m about 70% done as of December 11th. My how time flies.

Still, 2017 has shown promise in terms of my overall skill development. I am continuing to improve as a painter and though I still follow the surrealist path of Rene Magritte, I’m also developing my own, unique style.

Was there a common theme? No. I like to paint ideas and they come in a variety of imagery.

Was there a common theme? No. I like to paint ideas and they come in a variety of imagery.

I love the idea of surrealism. I love painting things that seem like they are, but could never be. I love painting the impossible. To me, it’s fun to have an idea, develop it, do my best to paint it and then have people wonder, “What was he thinking?”

The photograph doesn't do this painting justice. The bridgework is very detailed. It was a strange idea that literally came to me in the middle of the night with almost this exact image in mind.

The photograph doesn’t do this painting justice. The bridgework is very detailed. It was a strange idea that literally came to me in the middle of the night with almost this exact image in mind.

I’m not afraid to borrow. I have used other paintings as inspiration. I often use source material to get my own drawings as close to reality as my skill level permits. When I created “Bridge to Nowhere” I found a schematic of a footbridge. I don’t pretend to draw these items from memory. But I do draw them all freehand and then begin the process of turning it into a painting.

In the concept stage, I envisioned a conductor in charge of the elements similar to Fantasia.

In the concept stage, I envisioned a conductor in charge of the elements similar to Fantasia.

Some of my ideas are borrowed adaptations. Others, I have no idea where they come from. With “Lightness of Being” I was exploring Magritte’s concept of a giant floating rock. For some reason, I thought of a little girl holding a hot air balloon – only instead, it would be a floating rock. I loved that image and that’s what I drew on the canvas. At first, she was going to be standing in a field of flowers but once I had drawn the balloon/rock, I decided to shift the scene to a rocky beach. It’s probably one of my favorite images I’ve done so far!

A girld stands gazing out at the ocean, holding a giant, floating boulder that some people think is an asteroid.

A girl stands gazing out at the ocean, holding a giant, floating boulder that some people think is an asteroid.

What to paint next is always the mystery upon completion of whatever I’m working on at the time. Similar to reading a book, I never conceptualize a new painting until I’m done with the one that’s right in front of me. While searching for inspiration for my next subject, I ran across two items that I combined into one – a spiral staircase and a view of clouds shot from above, rather than below. And thus was born, “View from Above”.

A man stands atop a spiral staircase that has given him a view from above the clouds.

A man stands atop a spiral staircase that has given him a view from above the clouds.

I’ve been very happy with both the concepts and the execution of my last three paintings.

Yet most of my work seems to go unnoticed – especially when it comes to sales. If I relied on the income generated from my paintings, I would truly be a starving artist. I remember after my second gallery show back in 1991, I created a painting called “Nobody Noticed”. It featured two people walking off either side of the painting, oblivious to a roped off gallery that featured a framed painting of the night floating against a cloudy blue sky.

That painting has received more views on my pixels website than any other painting I’ve done. Perhaps that frustration that since I’ve resumed painting about 3-1/2 years ago, creating more than 30 new canvasses resulting in a grand total of two sold paintings led me to my most recent effort which is still a work in progress.

My most recent painting is about 70% done. The other art work needs to be added along with the two frames and then lots of shadowing still awaits.

Modern Art – still in progress. The other art work needs to be added along with two picture frames, a baseboard and then lots of shadowing.

Overall, 2017 has been a year of interesting concepts combined with better painting techniques. I had my first solo show in more than twenty years in 2017 at 1900 Park. I exhibited at Soulard Art Gallery twice and received an Honorable mention for “Head in the Clouds”. I also was part of MySLART’s monthly 33 show in the summer and I’ll have my three most recent completed works on display December 29th at the Old Orchard Gallery. Add in a few greeting cards via Greeting Card Universe and there’s certainly been a lot of activity.

I am determined to keep on keeping on and look forward to what’s next knowing that someday, the sales will come.

So onward we go. I’ve got a painting to finish.

(BTW, if you want to take a better look at any of these paintings, please visit any of the websites listed below.)

In addition to providing advertising and marketing communications services by day via BloodLines Creative, Tom is 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.

2016 and beyond for BloodLines Creative and BloodLines Art

So on this last day of 2016, I take a few moments to look back on the year and try to project what lies ahead for 2017.

Business wise, it was a good year. Not a great year. But a good year. I worked with a variety of new clients, lost an established one and still maintain ties with a long-time relationship which is very rewarding.

Though not a paying ciient, the invite that I created for our SLUH 40th Year Reunion was great fun and so was the Reunion weekend.

Though not a paying ciient, the invite that I created for our SLUH 40th Year Reunion was great fun and so was the Reunion weekend.

I created a number of videos, helped re-vamp one client’s website and we’ll soon be launching a new branding effort for another one. I began blogging for one client, worked on some PPC ads and I’m in the midst of working on a new TV and radio campaign as well. (Sorry for not naming client names – I only do that when I have permission and for this particular piece, I’m not even bothering to ask.)

On the art side of things, I was happy with the progress I’ve made as a painter. I created 11 paintings in 2016 – I don’t exactly churn them out, but I do stay at it and I continue to try and improve my brushwork, executing a variety of ideas that come from all places but always seem to circle back to Magritte in one way or another.

This painting was probably my favorite one that I created in 2016. It will be one of more than 30 on display at a solo show coming up in March.

This painting was probably my favorite one that I created in 2016. It will be one of more than 30 on display at a solo show coming up in March.

I began to more actively market my art this year as well. I now have two websites devoted to my art: http://bloodlinesart.com and http://tom-blood.pixels.com

The first site looks nice but has basically been useless due to a lack of promotion on my part. The second site enables you to take your art and have it show up in the form of pillows, tote bags, iPhone covers, coffee mugs, greeting cards and a variety of ways to order prints. That site continues to draw about 25-50 visitors a day and I’m approaching more than 8000 views since I started it back in July. The sales effort though has been somewhat disappointing – I’ve made enough to pay for the site but that’s about it.

Nuts and Bolts - one of my 'stick' paintings looks really cool in the form of a pillow and I've sold a few of them in 2016.

Nuts and Bolts – one of my ‘stick’ paintings looks really cool in the form of a pillow and I’ve sold a few of them in 2016.

There are more than a million works of art on the website. So I’m not overly surprised that my work isn’t selling like gangbusters. I don’t do art for a living. I do it for fun. I do it because I can. And I will continue to try and get better with each painting.

Prospects for 2017 look solid for both BloodLines Creative and BloodLines Art. Currently, I have a number of projects already in the books, some that will be on-going thru the Spring. I’m hoping to have my website fully optimized by the end of January and then I’ll begin more aggressive new business pursuits.

I hope to ramp up my blogging efforts in 2017 and have them be more focused on advertising and art. I dropped off the blogosphere and I’ve lost a lot of regular readers. Hopefully, I can earn them back.

I’m going to be ramping up for my first solo art show since 1994 over the next two months. It’s going to be at 1900 Park – Creative Space and Gallery. It’s both an art gallery and a music venue which will be awesome as I’ll have more than 30 works on display throughout the month of March. Opening night is going to be on Friday, March 3 and feature the music of Tom Blood, Jr.

More on that will be coming.

1900 Park will be the site of my first solo art show since 1994. Opening night will be on Friday, March 3rd.

1900 Park will be the site of my first solo art show since 1994. Opening night will be on Friday, March 3rd.

I have learned in this business that you never know what’s around the corner. You do your best, try your hardest, be honest with the people you work with and have fun in the process and generally, good things will happen. I have been blessed to work with so many gifted individuals through the years. I continue to learn and explore new ways to market – but bottom line, whether you’re doing a website or online ads or developing a trade show booth, you still need big ideas to stand out, get noticed and acted upon.

I’ve still got a lot of those.

Happy New Year and I’ll see you on the other side of 2017.