Artist Statement by Thom Cummins
Many people seek the known and take comfort in a favorite color or style; some even like to match their art to their decor. I take great comfort in shapes, lines, colors, and designs that don’t match but still somehow seem to fit together. It means there is a connection among the elements and an environment of order in disorder. Art is a place not only of comfort and control, but also passion, energy, and chaos. A sense of order in disorder, in whatever form it takes, helps me understand the unpredictability and lurking chaos of reality.
My work is a representation of the different forms this order/disorder takes. Beauty and ugliness are everywhere at the same time. Feelings are visible and hidden at the same time. I paint ordinary people and domestic settings as the common denominator in creating an interpersonal environment.
Converting reality into a system of colors, lines, shapes, forms, and opinions is a way of questioning our senses, attitudes, fears, and unwritten/written rules which have formed our behavior within and toward our biased reality. When the vision is clear, then the passion is there and the energy follows.
I like it when a home or art studio has been around long enough so that there is a kind of tension between the way it was originally created to look and the way it looks now, as well as a tension between the way it looks to whoever is living/working there and the way it looks to me. I always loved the life I thought I had rather than the life I really had.
I observe and celebrate the human, the marks we make on our environment. I treasure the free spirit, the self-created, the eccentric, the whimsical, and the ordinary, whatever is made out of creativity and love. I respect what people have built for themselves and what I can build. I can find the beauty in some battered old table or a living area cluttered with books, art, crafts, and other items with personal meaning. I think in terms of human-scale.
I believe the only way to be happy is to be content with and accept who I am and what I can create for myself. I don’t look for a beautiful or perfect place or person. I try to create the most beautiful place on my own terms. If nothing else, it’s a an artistic statement: we laugh, we cry, we are sad, we are bored, we desire material things, we scream, we flirt, we fight, we love; and art should say all of these things without the artist having to speak a word.
I use traditional materials, oils and watercolors on canvas and cotton paper, to capture moments in life. I spend hours thinking about and planning each painting. I visualize an image, and then I close my eyes and imagine it in different colors and designs. I then begin with rapid brush strokes to try to find the passion of the moment and make the image sing. Everything is captured in a preplanned but highly spontaneous dance and movement of the brush.
There is no going back and correcting when painting with watercolors. Oils, on the other hand, allow for endless editing and depth. I much prefer the energy of watercolors to the editing in oils. I believe in close observation and engagement with my subject. I study the subject until I feel that I am getting beyond my preconceived opinions and prejudices.
The challenge in art is to see beneath the surface and beyond the obvious to capture the unique subject for who or what it really is. Some subjects are quite beautiful on the surface, others less so. Until I get beyond that first impression, I cannot see if there is real beauty there. Real beauty, to me, is found in kindness, caring, self-awareness, self-esteem, love of life, and all that lies just beyond physical beauty.
My goal in art is to look more carefully at the world around me and to discover beauty in unusual or hidden places and in unconventional or unique individuals. The most important thing to me about art is how it requires me to really look below the surface in order to find the true nature of my subject.