MY INNER THOUGHTS, MY JOURNEY AS AN ARTIST AND IN LIFE.
THIS IS ME, UNWRAPPED.
- TOM -
"When you hit bottom, you get up and paint."
When I was a kid, I created worlds. I don’t think that is very different than most kids, but I can only speak for myself. I would sew and carve marionettes, I would build plaster hills settled by Lego houses for my matchbox cars and I would scribble on paper. I have come to find that art for most stops around 3rd grade but for me, since it was the most natural way to communicate and since I was good at it, I continued with it. My book reports centered around the illustrations and less on actual facts. My dioramas and puppets kept my focus on the creative parts of school. Who knows, maybe I was lacking in the academics or, something in my head couldn’t process that way and so I took the natural way - the easier path.
So in places like this, how much do you tell of your story? If it helps someone to at least question their path, then here goes.
As an adult, I recognize that art was a coping tool, a way that all people need to be seen - "See me, recognize my existence". Kids try so many things to get seen and heard or to heal. At 12 or13, I found another way that changed the trajectory of my life. Drugs and alcohol became part of my norm and my world progressively got smaller and smaller. At 16, a teacher "saw me" and attempted to propel me on a path that would have advanced my art. I was accepted into the Otis and Parson School of Design for a summer program. It was not until very recently that this came into my consciousness and for the first time, I mourned that child and the life unrealized. Instead of a summer of art, I chose to drop out and experimented with drugs. I continued this way, choosing wrong until at 45, I chose to participate in life.
It sounds cliché I know but, I am hammering out some parts of my psyche. As a young adult I continued to create worlds. You can see in my box series and with much of my work a desire to “Cloister” myself. It was far easier to put up walls in the mind and create a more pleasant surrounding when the world was shut out, and the persona I put out for the world was a façade that enabled me to keep my reality private.
I attended Mass Art in Boston while I worked as a waiter, staying to myself and taking the mandatory classes that I could afford. I missed the opportunity to learn any painting or drawing and as always, relied on the limited abilities that I had both creatively and in dealing with life. This led to a lot of bad choices and my plans and schemes relied heavily on that limited and somewhat miss informed knowledge, making this period dark and uncreative. The persona and not the genuine self lived and flourished while I remained stagnant and hidden; an ignorant adult child whistling in the dark.
After leaving Mass Art to pursue a career in mural painting, it was easier to be told what to do. While having had a successful career for 20 years as a decorative painter, I took on a lot of bad habits that literally halted my growth in all ways during that time. After 20 years as an alcoholic, I hit bottom.
Now, I am fortunate to be clean and sober since 2009.
I have refocused not on what I think people want and what I had been painting but what my spirit tells me to paint or what might help someone.
My purpose is “To add to the stream of life through painting", letting the viewers know they are not alone and that there is hope.
Nearly every painting is conceptualized during meditation with the thought of how this painting can help someone looking at it. I am self-taught and this is not mentioned for any other reason except that with every new painting, I have to relearn to paint and as each painting is born, so are my skills.
I sketch what is in my head and then photograph myself or a friend in the lighting and style I imagine. Sometimes I take a hundred photos. I use maybe a hand from one and the torso from another, almost never just one photo is used. I set up and photograph backgrounds and foregrounds. I would like the entire painting to be of my making, nothing borrowed, nothing clipped from the computer. And yes, sometimes a still life is used when possible. The paintings are sketched on Canvas , not projected , not gridded out. This also adds to the time because I'm not a patient sketcher and so many times fully realized hands and features have to be painted over and redone.
My paintings take sometimes 2 months. Having a new baby that can almost be for certain, with an hour stolen here and there, I worry if I can keep an audience's interest but I am true to myself and what my priorities are at the moment.
I have been told my paintings make people uncomfortable, maybe because I am shining a spot light on the dark places that are tough to look at or admit to having. If you want a painting that never stops telling a story to you and everyone that sees it, then these are the ones. They may not match your sofa and drapes but they make you think. I know these paintings have helped me see myself more clearer and in doing so, interact with the world more consciously.
Thank you for your time.
- Thomas Acevedo -
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