Being an artist is a privilege. That’s the long and short of it according Tom Pugh, oil painter extraordinaire. Prim and Shells tracked him down to find out more.
Around endless meandering rural roads we found Tom outside his house waving us in. A polite and gentle man he did well to hide his disappointment when we told him we hadn’t brought any scotch eggs, only questions.
Tom Pugh cut his early career as a carpenter. Naturally swayed by the arts he went on to study at The Academy of Architecture and Design in Prague, there he nurtured his talent to embark full time as an oil painter.
His vast and varied collection of works contain a number of portraits. Marilyn Monroe is frequently captured in a scope of styles. Sways and strokes of colour depicting her sensual freedom are brushed on the canvas with almost wanton abandon. He defines his work as, ‘a close up accurate mess, but when you step back it becomes a coherent image’.
Muhammad Ali is another piece he enjoys, by encapsulating the larger than life figure with heavy shades and definitive lines. Yet Tom is quick to point out his creations are not solely restricted to figures, but rather the realism of art itself, figuratively speaking. Tom finds it difficult to box his style, he basically paints what catches his eye from figures to inanimate objects to mythological creatures.
He works quickly and the bigger the canvas, the better. Often setting the initial idea to a film negative, Tom breaks up the composition into what he calls, ‘three shades of grey’, and lays down the sketch. For the middle part he adds the colour, which has already been thought out, he knows where it’s going, ‘at this stage, I’m just uploading it, sticking it on’. The final stage is to correct details; the tweak of an eyebrow or shape of a lip. Knowing when it’s finished he suggests, is more often than not the trickiest part.
There is a bristling honesty in Tom’s work that stems from his persona. He doesn’t paint to please others, but considers it a privilege to be an artist and if others happen to like it then it is a bonus. Once influenced by British greats such as David Hockney and Francis Bacon, he has grown to absorb and appreciate the colossal amount of art on offer these days through our modern world of instant imagery, so much so that names are considered no longer to be epitomized but rather the art itself.
The key element of his work is to convey the focal point to the casual observer, whether that be running athletes in motion pouring out their strain with a hint of grimace or the innocent yet provocative biting of a nail from Marilyn Monroe, Tom expresses the allurement with simple effect.
But what does he like on his scotch egg?