Self-taught artist Thomas Arvid coming to Park City
March 1, 2011
Painter Thomas Arvid grew up in Detroit, Mich., a place not too nurturing for anyone with a creative streak.
"The last thing everyone around you, including parents, want you to be is a starving artist," Arvid said during a phone call from his studio in Atlanta, Ga. "If you show any ability in the art field, they automatically want you to become an automobile designer or push you toward the education direction where you end up teaching art classes, which are both completely different occupations than being an artist."
Still, Arvid found ways to develop artistically.
"Influences came from whenever I would see art," he said. "If I saw a chair or table, I would say, ‘Oh, I can build that.’ Or if I saw a sculpture or even a painting, I would think ‘That’s relatively simple.’"
As he attempted to paint or sculpt, Arvid learned things, he said.
"I started setting goals for myself and attempted paintings that were more and more difficult," he said. "I started looking at realist paintings, and other works that were intriguing because of the color and wondered if I could paint it."
Recommended Stories For You
Without any formal training, Arvid studied composition, shading, highlighting, abstraction and taught himself how to paint.
"I mimicked and learned," he said. "I developed a technique by practicing and once I got one concept under my belt, I moved on."
While honing his craft, Arvid found he could paint anywhere, anytime.
"I try to find time to work wherever I am," he said. "It’s not about being at a certain place, but, all about learning to work from anywhere.
"Some people feel they need to cage themselves inside a workspace, but I feel that only limits them to what they can do with the amount of work they are able to do," he said. "The talent is within and art can be created anywhere."
There are times when he will even paint on airplanes.
"When I’m traveling from Georgia to California or Utah, I’ll bring little pieces of paper," he said. "While most people open up a laptop, I’ll bring out these pieces of paper and watercolors and start rendering some ideas."
However, Arvid’s favorite medium is oil and canvas.
"They are the best for the type of work I do," he said. "It’s amazing what you can come up with by using oils, although I do have a lot of work with charcoal and other mixed media."
Arvid began painting his trademark wine scenes on a fluke.
"I recognized that every popular artist had a focus," he said. "I, on the other hand, was painting all over the place, trying different techniques. I realized I needed some focus, so without spending too much time thinking about it, I decided to focus on the color red."
Arvid started working on three pieces that centered around a Converse High-Top tennis shoe, a crushed Coke can and a Radio-Flyer wagon.
"All these paintings had a big, red icon centered in the painting," he said. "As it was, red wine happened to be one of the subjects I decided to paint."
Instead of the typical still-life compositions that include wine bottles and fruit, Arvid wanted to paint scenes that were more realistic.
"The scenes were like if you walked by a yard and saw a wagon that was twisted and tipped over in the middle of the lawn after the kids finished playing with it," he said. "I wanted to do the same thing with wine painting. I wanted to make it look like people had just gotten up and left the table. I wanted the composition to tell a story."
Arvid finished his first wine painting so it would complement his series on red objects.
"Someone bought it off my easel," he said. "So I had to paint another to fill that spot, and someone bought that one. So I did another one, and that one sold."
After a while, people recognized Arvid as the artist who painted wine, which opened up a new artistic and social world for the artist.
"People started sharing these incredible bottles of wine with me," he said. "At that time in my career, I wasn’t making enough money to buy serious wine, but the people who were around wine taught me how generous they were with their wine."
Arvid found the wine culture was all about sharing.
"As people shared these great bottles of wine with me, or sent me bottles to paint, I would, in turn, start calling my friends to come over because I had to open the wine to do a photo shoot for reference."
A reception for Thomas Arvid will be held at the Redstone Gallery, 1678 Center Drive, suite 120, will be held on March 5, at 6 p.m. Another reception at Fleming’s Steakhouse & Wine Bar will be held March 8 at 6 p.m. RSVP by calling (435) 575-1000. Also, Arvid will participate in the the annual Red, White and Snow benefit for the National Ability Center that will be held March 10-12 at Deer Valley. For more information visit http://www.redwhiteandsnow.org .