Tom Henderson Smith
After 24 years teaching art I relaunched my own painting career in 2000. I'd felt for many years that something was missing from my life! Born in Yorkshire I'd travelled in Italy for two years following my Fine Art degree.
Back in the UK I'd settled at first in Bath and got into teaching then moved to a better job in Cornwall. When the time came to make the leap and go self-employed as an artist I was in just the right place, one with a rich heritage and bathed in maritime light.
What was your first experience with art?
At my mother's knee! She gave me charcoal and paper and used to encourage my first attempts with watercolour as well.
Please tell us all about your art
I seem to walk a tightrope between optical realism and what I consider to be abstraction (the music of colour and shape in mark-making). Good quality, often "open" acrylics and charcoal on heavy textured paper are my chosen media.
What music do you listen to?
I listen to Bach's chamber music most often in my studio but sometimes enjoy Jazz and quirky pieces by the Penguin Cafe Orchestra.
How do you find inspiration?
I'll take my dog for a walk on the Cornish cliffs and often come back with fresh ideas.
What do you do besides art?
For nearly 30 years I've practised Nichiren Buddhism and also spend time encouraging friends who are starting out in this.
What themes are you working on recently?
At this time of year it's the Cornish summer festivals that I find myself celebrating in my paintings.
What is the best painting you ever created?
I have a kind of parental loyalty to my most recently resolved canvas so tend to feel that the last one I've finished is the best. Having said that I know that my strongest pieces anyway are the ones I do about festivals.
What role does the artist play in the world?
For me it's about celebrating what appeals to my painter's eye: people, landscapes, the sea and changing weather. Viewers enjoy their surroundings and each other more when stimulated by an artist's vision.
Do you sell much of your art?
Yes, I've sold pieces fairly regularly over the past 12 years - from my studio, at exhibitions and online.
Where do you like to promote art on the internet?
The biggest influence was travelling around Italy as a student. Art objects in situ reflecting the societies in which they were made gave me an ideal of what art can be at it's best.
Would you like to recommend a contemporary artist and tell us about their art?
I have a lot of admiration for the work of Noel Betowski, an artist I know in Cornwall. His intricate yet bold and ambitious recent canvases are breathtaking yet trace their origins to intimate observation of forms in space. Google for him and you'll see what I mean.
I once hitch-hiked across Tuscany arriving in San Sepulchro I went to the town hall and, in Piero Della Francesca's Resurrection fresco on the wall on which it was painted, I saw the countryside that I'd just travelled through.
Where would you like to see yourself as an artist in 10 years?
Creating and showing my most ambitious and effective work s far is how I see myself at that time!
Advice for emerging artists
Tom Henderson Smith - Celebrating Life and Art
Cornwall, England, UK
Website: The Art of Tom Henderson Smith