Heart of Stone’s short stay on a gallery wall

This new painting of mine made its gallery debut on the closing night of my solo show. One hour later it was sold and heading home with its new owner.

This new painting of mine made its gallery debut on the closing night of my solo show. One hour later it was sold and heading home with its new owner.

When I decided to revisit one of my previous paintings called, “Heart of Stone”, I had no idea that it would ultimately sell in less than an hour at my closing solo show at Good Weather Gallery in Edwardsville, Illinois.

But that’s exactly what happened and I’m still a little stunned to see it go.

My original “Heart of Stone” painting was done back in the early 90s. At the time, I was doing a combination of airbrush and acrylic which always gave a nice contrast between the two. I had become a fan of Mark Kostabi, a New York artist who painted mannequin like looking figures. So I decided to emulate his approach, creating about 60 or so mannequin like figures all walking toward a giant heart of stone set on a pedestal out in the middle of a desert, set against a purple sky.

The description is probably a lot better than the actual execution.

Having just finished the simplified painting of “An Apple A Day”, I was wondering what to do next and the ‘Heart of Stone’ visual popped back into my consciousness. I went down to my storage area for my paintings and took a hard look at what I had done years ago.

I immediately knew I could do better – but also knew I had to change the venue. I couldn’t do another giant heart of stone in a desert setting. So instead, I decided to put it on its own little island, rising out of a churning sea against a tumultuous sky.

I sketched it out and liked what I had done so I set to work. Initially, there was going to be a couple standing on the rock formation at the bottom left of the painting. In my mind, having a couple staring at the giant heart gave more meaning to the ‘heart of stone’ expression.

I first created the sky, choosing an orangish-brownish palette. Why, I’m really not sure. Next, I started in on the churning sea, creating waves that were crashing all around the island. The couple staring out at the giant heart of stone seemed to approve so I moved on to the rocks at the base of the island.

Painting the actual heart of stone took quite a few sessions. At first, the stone was more the color of the rock base below. But I quickly discovered that color palette wouldn’t work as the stone was blending in to the sky instead of standing out. I shifted to more of a greyish-blue, doing my best to make the stone look a bit ragged as if it had been worn by the elements.

Next came the rock base at the left edge of the painting, followed by adding the couple. Once all the elements were in place, I asked for a few family comments. My wife, Chris, immediately said, “Get rid of the people.”

She said they did nothing for the painting. I always show work in progress on Instagram so I did a little poll and the results were mixed. Some said keep them, others said get rid of them. My deciding factor was when I looked at a few Magritte paintings where he had giant images floating in the sky. No people were present.

So the people were removed and I went in and did a lot of fine tuning to the water, rocks, sky and more touch ups on the stone itself. I completed the painting on a Wednesday, liking it so much that I hung it in our house.

Saturday was my closing show at Good Weather Gallery and I had decided to bring the four paintings I had done since the show opened back in late November to replace some of the sold work.

So that’s what we did and when the show began at 6 pm, Chris told me, “I bet ‘Heart of Stone Revisited’ sells tonight.

She was right. Turns out, the couple that had bought “Ascension” came in to pick up their painting and when they saw this new one, had to have it.

So away it went. Twelve paintings sold from one show was a record for the gallery and for me as well. I now have my first sale for 2021 and the question becomes, “What will you do for an encore?”

That remains to be seen!

As an aside, I’m happy to have eight of my paintings featured in an upcoming group show via B Extraordinaire that will be on display at both locations of the Missouri Athletic Club, February 2-March 31. More on that show will come later.

And one more aside – if there are any paintings that you see on my artist website, you can now order prints in a variety of sizes, papers and finishes by contacting me directly – tom@bloodlinescreative.com

Finally, my apologies for not posting more often. These days, I seem to spend more time marketing my BloodLines Art than I do with my BloodLines Creative marketing. That portion of my business still keeps me very occupied and I still love the challenge of a new assignment or client in need of marketing communications help.

In addition to creating advertising and marketing communications work by day, I also paint at night and have been fortunate to develop a world-wide following of the surrealistic art that I create. My recent show at Good Weather Gallery is yet another step on my artistic journey. If you would like to see more of my work, you can visit my online art gallery. You can also make purchases of my work of items like prints, iPhone covers and a variety of other items by visiting this site. Original artwork along with a variety of prints are available at this new site which supports local St. Louis artists and allows them to show their work at a variety of places throughout the metro area. Please visit!

“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 …


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.

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.


MySLArt.org 33 October Show

Tom Jr. and I in front of my 3 paintings at the My SLArt.org 33 October Show

Tom Jr. and I in front of my 3 paintings at the My SLArt.org 33 October Show

It’s always fun to have your art work on display. So participating in my fourth MySLArt.org show was a treat to be a part of and getting to meet and talk with other artists who are kind of in the same boat I am always makes for an interesting evening.

I was impressed with the variety and quality of the entrants in this month’s show. There’s truly something for everyone at these events and they’re a great outlet for artists who traditionally may not be quite gallery-worthy yet – and for others that certainly are.

I enjoy seeing people walk up to my paintings, looking closely at the details and oftentimes, talking with others about what in the world is going on with what I’m showing.

It’s also fun when people come up to me and say that my work reminds them of Magritte.

That’s probably the ultimate compliment to me. As a painter, I am a novice, still learning, still trying to get better every time I start on a new canvas. Talking to other artists at the event, that’s their quest as well.

The Juror’s Choice award went to Noelle Wagner – and deservedly so. One of her works was featured as the key image for the invite and it was even better seeing it in person. Gorgeous stuff and she got my vote!

Photography by Divine XO Photography

Photography by Divine XO Photography

Hat’s off also to Ulysses Sebastian, who received the Visitor’s Choice award for three compelling photographs that had a lot of people talking. I spoke to Ulysses (who recently changed his name) about his work and about his pursuit of creating photography that made a difference. That’s really what it’s all about – pursuing your passion, putting yourself out there and always trying to get better.

I love to paint and even though the canvasses continue to stack up in our house, that’s okay.

My best paintings are still ahead of me.

My return to painting, part II

A step in the right direction

It was back on June 24 that I posted I was going to jump back into the fray and begin painting again.

Here it is, the middle of September and this is all I have to show for it.

One very small canvas that looks like it may have been done by a 4th grader.

I had such grand ambitions.

Instead, I was saddled with a canvas that measures 9″ x 12″.

I felt like such a hack.

I used to air brush my skies, trying my best to create Magritte-style cloud formations. But currently, my downstairs office space is not set up for any air brush work. So it was all acrylic and brush work for me as I tried to jump back in to the painting game.

Some people might wonder why there’s a painting of a ladder in a field with a few tree branches jutting out from the side.

I do, too.

All of my paintings always start off as mini sketches. This one began as a ladder leaning against a brick wall. I even went out and took some photos of an old wooden ladder leaning against a wall and thought I was good to go. But the subject matter didn’t do a whole lot for me. It had no mystery to it.

Remove the wall the ladder was leaning against and suddenly, it became a little more interesting.

Figuring out how to make this happen from my limited skill set proved to be almost comical.

It all began with a return visit to Art Mart, a place I hadn’t set foot in for 16 years. Tom Jr. had bought me my tiny canvas, some brushes, a drawing pad and some paint for Father’s Day but I felt that I needed more supplies. I was determined to do something – anything to get back into it. I used to mask off quite a bit with my airbrush work and figured I could do the same with this painting, covering up the tree branches and ladder while I filled in the sky and the ground around it.

My sales rep at Art Mart said they no longer made the kind of 3M tape that I used to use all the time for my masking work so I bought some type of frisket or something that refused to stick to the canvas and was very tough to cut with an X-acto knife. I was stumped. So the canvas sat partially covered in frisket that was peeling up from the canvas for several weeks before I finally decided I could work without a net. I pulled up the frisket and began painting the sky, doing my best not to fill in the ladder. The clouds are abysmal.

But at least you know they are clouds.

So then I moved to the ground and I actually kind of liked what I did with it, crude though it is. The ladder was next and though far from perfect, if asked what it was, you would identify it as a ladder.

And if you have the benefit of seeing the sides of the painting (not shown here) you can tell the branches are part of a bare tree.

So all in all, I guess you know what this is.

You just may never know why it is.

But that’s why they call it art.

As to the title of this one?

A step in the right direction.