Artist Statement

Tom Canfield photo

Photo: Tom Canfield

I am a lover of beauty, truth, honor, depth and hope, and I present fine art doorways for the soul. The doorways are invitational: What worlds will you visit? What meanings will emerge? What draws you? Where will your journey begin? Pattern, form, line, space, color, and sometimes figurative or natural suggestions are the things that I use to bring these inquiries to the doorway. I often begin a work because I am entranced with a color, or a shape, or a feeling or a mood. Sometimes this comes from a visual stimulus, but very often the visual follows the leading of my heart, my soul, my spirit. Many things inspire me: my friends, my family, my studies, my spirituality, my world, and my life.

I often start a work with a great burst of energy, allowing the impression of the underlying truth to be simply expressed without concern for specifics. These broad shapes and color areas form the basis for the work, and set its tone.

Next, I have a dialogue with what I have put down, and my introspection will often allow patterns of meaning emerge. How do they move? Staccato? Flowingly? Are there several voices singing at once? How does each rhythm bring out more of the truth of the work? I enhance the rhythm through shapes and tones and colors.

A difficult stage – often the “awkward adolescence” of the work – is the stage of honor. Here I have to find ways to add content and meaning, as well as personal integrity. My spirituality is such that I must do that which feels honest, whole and respectful of my experience. At times, this is without literal content but often a particular identifiable form may emerge as a sigil of my intent and understanding.

Bringing depth to a piece requires application and reapplication of media, often layers on layers on layers. I think of this as looking at a gemstone from many angles, in varying lights. While I know that my work is a single static piece, I intend the layers to show the process and the facets of that which I express. I love doing this because I have a chance to set a context for the finished piece.

Hope comes from the finishing. My work is often very energetic and vibrant. In the finishing – which often includes application of drawing techniques, gilding, color washes and very fine detailing – I present a new vision coming from the piece. It is a challenge for me to maintain the integrity of the piece as a whole, while offering possibilities. I love what I do. If I did not, I would not.