Artist Statement


Everything on our planet is connected, as forces of nature; humans depend on the elements just as the trees need sunlight, air, water and soil to grow.


Nature is, and has always been my inspiration. I respect its ability to transmute, transfix and transform. Water, for example, has no color, no odor, and without an outside force, it lies still. But with a breath of wind or a tremor from deep within the earth, it can become a powerful tsunami.


The most eloquent statement I can make as an artist is to work honestly and simply with the canvas to reflect my intimate connection to nature in its entirety.


Paul Tom

Biography


Paul Tom was born in Montreal in 1952. His formative years had a major impact on the course of his life as an artist. After the loss of his mother at the tender age of three, Tom’s father moved them to join his older brother in Hong Kong at the age of five. He completed his primary and secondary schooling there, but more importantly, found his passion for painting and nature. A lot of solitary time was spent exploring the forests and foothills of the mountains near where he lived. He would play near streams and draw and paint in watercolour as a young teen. The forest became a place of solace and connection for him which was much needed after the loss he had experienced so early on in life.


After winning a school art contest, Tom’s father took him for private lessons with professional artist Lee Wai On. His studies were interrupted when his father returned to Canada and Tom was left to live in Hong Kong alone with his brother. He withdrew, and lost all interest in his academic school studies. When his brother reported this to his father, the money to pay for art lessons was withdrawn. A few years later Tom ran into his teacher on the street who asked him “Why aren’t you coming for lessons?” After he explained, his teacher told him not to worry about payment and to come back to him anyway. That extended kindness and Mr. Lee’s desire to mentor Tom solidified the young teenager’s commitment to pursue art as a profession. He claims that from that moment on, the only thing he ever wanted to be was an artist.


From 1965 to 1969, Tom studied full-time with Mr. Lee in Hong Kong. Upon his return to Canada, Tom studied visual arts at Cégep du Vieux-Montréal from 1972-1975. He then continued his education at Concordia University from 1982-1985, studying and working graphic design. In 2005, he made the commitment to pursue his painting full time under the continued guidance of his mentor Mr. Lee who had also moved to Canada. Now in his later years, Mr. Lee is in extended care in Vancouver, BC, but until a few years ago, he and Paul had a close personal and professional relationship. Mr. Lee pushed Tom to seek more abstraction in his work which is most evident in this current collection of paintings.


In terms of influences, Tom feels that Claude Monet’s work is romantic and expresses emotion with an incredible light quality. Many draw comparisons between the subject matter and style of Monet’s work to Tom’s work. He also cites Gustav Klimt’s pictorial uniqueness as inspiration along with Klimt’s desire to paint as a way of communication over the written or spoken word. This reference rings true to Tom’s reserved personality, incredible work ethic and continuous drive to paint.


Tom is also inspired by Jackson Pollock’s ability to create space in his work between colours that form shapes the viewer can enter and pass through layer by layer. Tom is motivated to create natural environments that people can explore and discover on many levels. The subject matter of choice for Paul is always nature. The attraction for him is that nature contains the whole of creativity and the origins of everything can be found in nature. Tom’s intimate relationship to nature, formed as a young boy, is what drives him to share his passion and connection to the natural world with others through his art.

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