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Words About Paintings

 Due to popular demand, or constroctive critisism and requests for narratives on works, this page will attempt to offer insight to John Thomas' works.

General Info:
In whatever expression an artist must have a voice, a way of expressing ideas.  Musicians combine intruments in arrangements, add lyrics, and then perform in front of thousands of people; photographers capture a moment in time; performance artists work tirelessly through corriographed arrangements that offer visual entertainment and express emotion through movements and expressions of their body.  Charles Bukowski wrote about drinking, smoking, and fucking; hard living and some people may be offended, but he put it out there in simple yet eloquent arrangement of words.  Surfers, such as Kelly Slater, have learned to express themselves through riding waves that nature provides in an effortless manor.  Painters and sculptors used to be commissioned by the church to give visuals of the ideas being presented in order help people associate.... Michealangelo!  Contemporary visual artist express themselves through arranging vast medias and mediums now available.  Regardless of the form of art, it is the artist job to offer their way of expression to provoke the audience.

Eyes are said to be "the doorways to the soul."  Sure. At a glance they can tell us about a new aquaintence, they tell us the mood or feelings of our friends and loved ones- without words; welcome or not, they provide an ability to see and be seen.  This allows for infinate possibilities and interpretations in my works.  

Lips are incorporated because they, also, offer unlimited possibilities; as do eyes, they can convey moods or feelings- happiness, sorrow, joy, grit, and they can speak.  However, visually, I like their shapes and luster.  

Faces combine elements in my work.  Rarely presented as whole, rather in fragments that could make a whole; One eye seen as part of a portrait combined with another in profile form.  The faces address ways that we view our surroundings and the idea of how we are perceived.   This is expressed through color selection, arrangement of images/ objects, mediums, composition, and scale.  

Regarding scale; I typically prefer to work in larger formats.  Painting is a very physical interaction with canvas for me, therefor, being limited to small scale seems too controlled and limiting.  This is where giclee printing comes in handy! 

Below are narratives on early works of which several are found on this site.  Links will be added in the future!   

Las Vegas Painting:  This painting was inspired during one of those brilliant visits to sin city.  I do enjoy Las Vegas for what it is.  I find it fascinating, actually.  The idea that all that is unacceptable in society’s normal behavioral standards is encouraged in Las Vegas.  I like walking across the street from one establishment to the next with my cocktail, safely, in my hand.  If you’re into drugs, that too seems to be the norm as long as you are somewhat discreet; don’t do lines on the hood of the Police car when an officer is sitting in it.  Prostitution is illegal, however, a good portion of the phone book is filled with “escorts.”  Why don’t they appoint a street section in town, perhaps like Amsterdam, where women of this profession are in storefront windows, call a spade a spade and stop fucking around?  It is not as if people do not know what is going on!  That is what people go there for.  And the people who live there and keep this industry going?  Bless them.  The elderly ones sitting at the craps table after their shift, still in their respected uniforms, smoking a cigarette; they look broken and tired.  The younger ones beautiful and dressed to the nines, in black, they look tired too, in the early mornings, before “bedtime.”  

Anyway, we were in this club, appropriately named “Utopia.”  The line out the door would take you most of the evening, unless, you are with one of those beautiful residents whom knows the doorman…. .  Inside, well Utopia!  People dancing in cages that were placed around the dance floor, doing whatever, clothes optional.  It was all happening in there.  Later, I found myself upstairs.  I was talking with a friend.  We were watching this couple interact (at least it looked like they were going to be a couple that evening!).  She had a long skirt on.  She was dancing, spinning around, smiling, and enjoying herself.   As she did this great spin, looking like Marilyn Monroe, the air conditioner vent caught her skirt and all was revealed, including the vision for Las Vegas Painting.  I immediately drew the sketch in a matchbook.  The idea that this entertainment Mecca that rose out of the dirt and tumbleweeds as a man’s fantasy vision, his creation and all that Las Vegas stands for all came to me at once.  The excess, greed, and wealth created in the middle of this desert, no wear, really, seams so unlikely to me.  This painting represents my understanding of the false sense of reality that Las Vegas was created to serve as.

 

Titled----3  Je Pense    This painting began as several drawings.  Once started, it took some time for the painting to become what it wanted to be.  In French, je pense means  I think.  It is often painful to think, (but it sure feels good to paint)

 

Petite Amie    Girlfriend in French. Drawings for this painting were composed prior to meeting my girlfriend.  As the painting was composed our relationship began.  When the painting was finished people were asking me if was her.  It was not consciously created to portray her, yet it is unquestionably her.  I think it represents her quite well especially her intensity.

 

Never Satisfied…(Jamais Trouve Le Satisfaction Mais, J’essay)  I was waiting with friends to take a ferry to L’Isle de Paquerol which is in sight from the mainland in the south of France.  It is a beautiful little island just off the coast near Marsaille.  There are no cars on the island!  It is a great place to go for a day trip and relax.  As we waited for the ferry I looked down at my boarding ticket then at the island and thought how beautiful it was, how fortunate I was to be there, yet I was still not satisfied  I wrote the words “never satisfied” on the back of my ticket.  Several months later I was back in the states and I had a few lines on a piece of paper which led to the painting.  The chaotic application of the paint represents my inability to ever be satisfied.  Perhaps in the future, although a recent version is nearing completion….

 

Gone to Carolina      Often I find inspiration through music.  This is the first representation of ongoing ideas revealed to me through song.  Songwriters have the ability to share their words and ideas with great audiences, which influences many facets of our society, and in many cases, bridges gaps between foreign cultures.  We may not all speak the same language, however, nearly all modern societies are conscious of music.  I usually find phrases in songs that are thought- provoking.  I have interest in diverse kinds of music, which allows me to gather ideas from various perspectives.  Shamefully, I believe that many people who have wonderful gifts and talents may go unrecognized in the future.  Contemporary music seems driven only by corporate greed rather than musical merit or talent. “Boy bands” appear to be arranged in five, post- pubescent no- talent mother- fuckers, girls in groups of three, or as one, sexy, young and blond. Fortunately for us, a talented few continue to slide through.  I liked what was visually presented when I thought of these words in color.  “ Karen she’s a silver sun, you’d better walk her way and watch her shine, watch the morning come.”  I think sun and I see yellow, or orange, not silver!  The title of the song is Gone to Carolina.  By the way, I have never, physically, been to Carolina.  Only… in my mind.
 
Flag      This is a difficult one for me to express in words.  I have completed several pieces using American flags as the canvas and each one reveals new thoughts and emotions.  It is the American flag for fuck sake! It is not intended for some unappreciative young “artist” to deface!  I realize this.I was taught somewhere in some pre-law course that law makes law.  And art makes art?  Or is it that art responds to art as well as contemporary issues.  Jasper Johns chose subjects that were “familiar”: targets, numbers, flags.  He claimed that this solved his problem of choosing subject matter and they were easily identifiable by the viewer.  However, rather than representing a familiar image, I prefer to use the actual item.  Found objects have always been incorporated into my work.  I enjoy the idea that this object started as something and rather than being discarded it has a new purpose.  In this case it is the flag.  I had some discarded flags in my ‘bone yard.’  I had rescued them after they had done their service and were apparently no longer suitable.  I knew that they had a future.  It just took a while for that future to be discovered, especially given the sensitive ideals that the “canvas” represents.  This piece was inspired by the corruption, incompetence, and general disregard that we the public continually tolerate from the government officials that are elected to serve the communities in our cities, states, and our country.  Additionally considered were issues that I find concerning in our society including family values, education and what we call “progress.”  I felt that in many ways our country was in distressed and often chaotic state.  I chose to render the flag upside down.  I later found out that an upside down flag used to be a distress signal.  Perfect. 

I should mention that I feel fortunate to be an American, however, I also believe that we have a great deal of growing to do, as individuals and as communities before we will truly realize our full potential.  No country which I have visited in my travels is perfect, yet it seems that many of them get along better as communities and have higher qualities of life.  They are less concerned with the American farce of  “getting ahead” and more conscious of enjoying living. 

 

In the Window    This continuing series began as a result of many windows given to me from a contractor friend.  He had refurbished an old home and remembered that I was looking for some glass or windows to incorporate into paintings.  The idea here is exactly what you see.  Most men will take any occasion to “sneak a peek” given the opportunity.  If they say something to the contrary they are in denial or lying.  I believe that it is our natural instinct as men.   My vision for the pieces in this series is of young men seeing something that they were not intended (or were they?) to be witness to.  The figure in the window is larger than life because at younger ages we seem to perceive women this way.  Besides the window being a physical barrier of separation, it also represents the psychological challenge that a young man will face of “how do I get invited in there?”    
 
Think and Feel, 1998    This painting continues the theme of how we feel verses how we portray ourselves and are perceived by from others.