I don’t know if the Internet knows this yet, but I adore art. Today, I’d to introduce you to one of my favourite artists, one that not that many people know: Thomas Aquinas Daly.
He does watercolour and oil painting and plays with neutral tones to create an expressionistic atmosphere that brings about images of fog and cold water. Born 2 years before the second world war, he was educated as a graphic artist at the University of Buffalo and has produced two books. I have (in my personal opinion) the best of the two, called Painting Nature’s Quiet Places.
While I can’t find my personal favourites of his on the internet, I hope that these pictures give you an idea of what he paints, how he paints, and how you can alter your painting or artistic reviewing in order to accommodate some of his best elements.
He paints nature, elements of nature, and the atmosphere of the countryside in a way that makes us all feel those cold wet socks without having to go fox hunting without the light of the sun. And that, in my opinion, is true mastery; somehow, he also manages to make it beautiful. That damp fishing boat seems romantic, glorious, in a quiet, subtle way, and if anyone can make a dead fish look appealing, then he deserves my full attention and respect.
Oh, and, then there’s the dead animals pinned to grey walls. That’s a little less glorious. But, hey, this is a blog with a central element of taxidermy, so I tilt my hat to you, C, and give everyone a little bit they can know about dead fish.
I want to turn back to his colour combinations and compositions, though. You may notice that I’ve selected a few images in which he truly offsets the centres of focus, and a few where they are almost in the centre of the page.
He balances muted tones with small pieces of rich colour. If you look to the wall-pinned-fish-painting to the right, you can see what I’m describing; the slate blue-grey of the wall has echoes of the brilliant cobalt and vermilion in the fish. This is how Daly gives us the foggy feeling of his paintings, by echoing the focus in the fog of the background.
Even though it’s subtler in the image below, we have the same theme; the soft olive and forest greens of the trees can be found in the shadow of the fisherman’s hat and in his trousers. The river is not a silly blue, but, instead, a murky, realistic green. The house, therefore, is what truly leaps out at us, but because it is balanced with the stripe of open sky and its reflection, it isn’t an obnoxious focal point.
For those of you who want to pursue art but find it too mysterious and selective of a field, I’m here to tell you that it’s just as much architecture as it is talent. A huge hunk of talent comes from being able to learn the rules and play them to your advantage. Once you understand composition on a near-esoteric level and have a good grasp of art history, suddenly, modern art makes sense. Perhaps I’ll write a post like that: why modern art actually makes sense.
I urge you to consider pursuing art and art history hand-in-hand rather than try to tackle one individually. You can never understand what you’re drawing until you see how others have struggled through it before you (it’s like reading novels before getting on the New York Times’ Best Selling list), and you can never look at art without having felt it.
It’s like what my own glorious art professor once told me: You can always tell who has ridden a horse and who hasn’t by the way that they draw it. Those who have ridden horses draw the rhythm of their bones behind the muscles of a gentle beast. Those who have not draw shadows of lifeless vehicles.
Photos Courtesy of: