The Artist at Work

The Artist at Work
The Artist at Work

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Why Paint?

"Theirs is not to reason why, Theirs but to do and die." - from "Charge of the Light Brigade" by Alfred Lord Tennyson

The questions, "How did you learn to paint?" and "Who are your influences?" are inextricably linked for Marcus.

I am self taught with a deep appreciation for the amazing artists who have given their lives to create timeless master paintings. I am a voyeur, who cherishes a peek at the provocative lives of other artists. Through the lens of their passion, much can be learned.

My influences are many, and with numerous styles.
Holbien Robert Bateman
Vermeer Julie Speed
Rembrandt Walton Ford
Van Gogh The Wyeth Family
Edward Hopper

The litany of names could indeed be a "light brigade" of artists. Men and women who could do no other but create through color, and values, paint, brush, canvas, all of them compelled and driven to express a vision bigger than the individual.

The question is not so much "why paint?" as it is, "how can I refuse?" The calling is irresistible and irrefutable. Tennyson's Light Brigade shows how one can be helpless and heroic at the same time. Artists are also like that. The artist makes a masterpiece from his flawed, often heartbreaking, unique experience. He transforms what he sees into rare form through his love and his skills. From Vermeer to Andrew Wyeth to Julie Speed, the lives of artists bear this out. Marcus writes:

An endless smile forms as I consider the depth of inspiration that echoes in my brain and seeps through my senses. . . Inspiration surrounds me! I gather from the daily bombardment of stimulation - the birds we feed, the sounds and sights of the familiar, changes in landscape resulting from the growth in the mountains of western N.C., and also the natural change of seasons. It's impossible not to see priceless beauty as well as the destructive pressures of a modern society.

Perhaps the painter's burning question is not why?, but how? How to convey everything honestly, how to charge the image with the urgency and vigor of life, how to fully honor the love of the world that so quickly vanishes?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Q&A - Ask the Artist

For the next few weeks, this space will be an exploration - the back and forth of question and answer sessions with Marcus. He will honestly and authentically address any question put forth in good faith.

You, dear reader, are invited to submit your questions for the artist below in the comments.

The first of entry to the Q&A series is:
What are the limitations of being a quadriplegic painter? Are there some things you just can't do artistically?

Marcus says:
I am always trying to defy the odds. It amplifies the excitement and fuels my passion. So, instead of thinking about limitations, I "dwell in the possibilities." The deeper I explore the possibilities of my tools - the paint/brush - the more the idea of limitation fades.

Sure, there is a practical size constraint. Large is not strategically sound and involves unfair demands outside of my control. Accordingly, I strive to create modest size paintings that hopefully contain a lasting, large, voice.

Keeping to a modest size does not eliminate the need for assistance but does reduce it.

Painting various segments of any given scene requires the raising and lowering of the easel for my brush as well as rotating the painting surface itself. The perspective provided by rotation helps with accurate drawing, plus also allows a broader reach with the brush. If a painting looks good upside down, the possibilities are endless!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Work in Progress

An excerpt from the book, tentatively titled:
The Art of Marcus C. Thomas: A Painter's Journey Through Paralysis

If art is a conversation human beings have with the world they are thrown into, Marcus Thomas has a lot to say. “Art comes out of suffering,” Marcus admits, reflecting on the lives of the masters,“but that doesn’t mean you have to suffer with your art.”

The conversation he participates in through his brush strokes and colors is one that is informed by suffering. The ultimate point of his conversation, however, is beauty and resilience.

Wreckage is a subtle but recurring theme in Marcus’ work - dilapidated churches, broken windows, fallen birds, birds captured and killed, beached rowboats. Yet, just about every broken thing you find in his paintings is also amazingly full of life - inhabited by birds or surrounded by natural splendor. Though the fragility of life, something Marcus knows so well, is honestly part of the picture, the story never ends in wreckage; suffering never has the last hurrah.

Marcus' paintings, from his depictions of landscapes and songbirds to his more symbolic statements, reveal both a world on the verge and the painter’s effort to save it in meticulous brushstrokes and bold imagery. Marcus is a painter capable of showing his audience the world they live in, which is often a world they have never seen before. His life, and the artistic accomplishment that it is - born of suffering, beautiful and resilient, shows us the same world.