3 Questions Digital Series

Thomas Paquette

An interview from Art in Embassies 3 Questions Digital Series with longtime AIE artist Thomas Paquette, who speaks about his creative process and artwork.

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Full Transcript

Hi I’m Thomas Paquette and I’ve been an artist showing through the Art in Embassies program for going on many years now.

So it’s always been with me, in the back of my head, that somehow I’d be an artist,  I come from a family of eleven and yet my parents would take us to the art museum, they pretty much had to give the whole place over to us when we got there,  but I loved running around the galleries and seeing these mysterious things called paintings.

Going back to early childhood, my parents would take us on these long cross continental drives for vacation every summer and so  I loved looking at the landscape as we traveled across the United States, zigzagging back and forth and I was always in the back, so I got this hind view, watching the mountains as they were disappearing, not appearing and I felt like that was something that really got into my blood seeing these vistas that are so much of America, so vast and so different in so many different places and so many different ways.  And eventually when I was 18, I dropped out of college studying art mid term because I wanted to see more of America so I decided to hitchhike and hope freight trains and that’s how I managed to travel for three month but I really got to see America up close and so this idea of the landscape and expressing what I would see is also in tandem with my painting it’s been something that has always informed who I am.

I just find nature fascinating and when I see a landscape there’s something that. resonates within me, just as a human being that I find the aesthetics of a place can sometimes be so overwhelming that would be something that I”d like to try to caption in paint on canvas.  I guess in a way in a certain sense I don’t know what I am expecting and I am usually drawn by something that would probably be described as a feeling ,but it is looking for a nuisance that i haven’t seen before. I don’t know what that could be by definition but i sense it by just being out there and being surprised or caught off guard.  When i first start a painting, just like walking out into nature , i find that when I approach a a canvas, to look for something I haven’t seen before, usually what I start out with are really arbitrary colors that are there to define where things go on a canvas and they’re also there to challenge me to not be stuck with a certain color in mind, to say for instance the sky is blue so I will run the gamut of colors before I get back to, yes, ok the sky is blue cause I will come back to that often but underneath there may be a dozen different colors that may have sat on the surface with the idea that one is where I would end up, and sometimes it does, so I will put on on a thin amount of paint, just to cover the canvas, I rarely cover the entire canvas with one color sometimes I will drawn in with pencil, it’s really varied, most often I will put in these arbitrary colors and then I will decide whether to work with thick paint or not, I allow that to happen or I don’t sometimes I will allow it to happen then scrape it down to a very smooth canvas that had a lot of paint on it, and as an artist i want people to. to look at the materials and how things are done, rather than giving a narrative.  The narrative for me is what’s showing in the landscape that is, you can get a sense of where something is and how the climate, the weather and geology has effected what you’re seeing and perceiving through my painting.  and also I just love when artists bring to the work an attention to the surface, and that’s what I want people to get from my work, as well as feeling like there ‘s really something important to be seen in nature.

It takes a level of commitment that is probably beyond your expectations, but if you’re willing to have a really interesting life, and do some really interesting things and end up feeling like you’ve made a contribution somehow to our visual world and what it means to be a human, that’s the best thing and you should never walk into a situation of trying to be an artist and also think that somehow you’re going to be wealthy from doing that, you may wind up with a pile of money from doing it, but that’s not going to make your best work, that’s where you run into trouble. Anything you do to make the process hasten for any reason whatsoever is the wrong way to go about it, so putting a monetary value on it, having a deadline, you have to let go of all of that in order to paint  or do any artwork whatsoever, from my perspective.