Artist Statement

Tom Mielko“Painting is the only job I have ever had and the only one I can ever imagine doing. It makes me complete. It’s always thrilling to experience the moment a painting takes on a life of its own. One instant there is an amalgamation of colored shapes on the canvas and then boom, with the addition of a single stroke it’s transformed into a lifelike entity.

I feel I’ve been blessed with a special gift and it’s incredibly satisfying to know that I can use my talent to bring joy into the lives of others. I didn’t have an easy childhood. I had a terrible speech impediment and turned to painting and sketching for comfort. I could escape from the chaos surrounding me simply by painting. Now, years later, my viewers tell me they have the same experience; they are comforted by my quite tranquil surrounds and they can escape into my romantic world of mystery and magic.

My style is referred to as Romantic Realism, and to me this means telling stories through pictures. There is little room for error in realism and it is important to concentrate on detail, although it may be tedious work. In Windy Side, for example, I treat the viewer to a side view of a beautiful clapboard house. But look closer inside an open window and you’ll see on a wall a wood carving; peer inside the enclosed porch and you’ll see a model of a sailing ship. Once you begin noticing these details, it’s only a matter of time before you begin to imagine who might live there and wonder about their story.

There is a great deal of sensitivity and symbolism in my work. I like to suggest a deeper meaning behind the obvious, whether it is glorifying a simple lobster hut or mystifying an empty cottage. I try to leave part of the story to the viewer’s imagination and sometimes that means leaving something out, like a path to an abandoned house being pondered by a beautiful woman or, as I did in the Proposal, focusing on a pair of bicycles while the couple is off in the distance. This leaves the viewer to imagine who the couple is, or project themselves into the painting, as the couple.

I believe that Art should make no apologies for being beautiful. A beautiful landscape can be as challenging and have as much symbolism as an abstract expressionist painting, and yet it can be comforting as well. I believe that the process of creating Art is deeply personal and therefore my works always remain as a connection to me, an outward expression of my personal vision of the world.

I am an American and proud of it. I am an incurable romantic and just as proud of that. When I want to look at art and become inspired, I gravitate towards Wyeth, Homer, Sargent and Rockwell – work that has directness and is true to the artist’s experience. I’m never without a sketchbook, constantly drawing the world I see and have a reverence towards my subject matter.

My teacher and mentor, Phil Hicken, taught me an important lesson, which I will never forget. He said that ‘you must keep challenging yourself, for when you obtain your goal, the challenge is over’. I never want it to be over!”

—Tom Mielko