Thom Glace An interview with a great artist, angler, and conservationist
Thom Glace is a fly-fishing artist who knows the Wizard of Oz personally
By Skip Clement
Award winning watercolorist Thom Glace lives, breathes, and paints piscus’. Animals of the saltwater and freshwater that we all fly fish for daily: trout, bass, bonefish, tarpon, musky, char, sailfish, brook trout – every fish.
Thom Glace lives near a storied place of fly fishing – the hallowed grounds of Allenberry Resort; its paths lead to where the fly fishing supplicants fish the magical waters of the Yellow Breeches Creek in Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania, hoping to learn to catch the mighty Mykiss’ and Salmos so that someday they’d see the Wizard of Oz.
Here is where it all started with a whisper in the near fly fishing community, including all the TCO fly shops.
The secret is that Thom Glace is the only person known to have fished with the Wizard of Oz. The Wizard, it is said, will only fish with anglers who never lie about the trout they caught.
I have never fudged about my impressive catches, and everyone at the chain of TCO fly shops says they never fib, but none of us has ever seen the Wizard. Hmmm?
I even asked a famous guy I saw on the street who said he is the most fantastic fly fisher of all time if he has fished with the Wizard, saying for all who had gathered to hear, “Of course, I have fished with the Whiz many times.” I thanked Mr. Trump for sharing and followed with What does the Wizard look like? He said it is top secret information he’d safeguard as promised.
Thom does love to fly fish, and he does love to paint in watercolors. He is a good fly fisher but a spectacular watercolorist, having won umpteen awards to prove he is what all the critics say he is.
I asked Thom to talk about himself and then put it together as a summary. Here’s what Thom said:
- Thom Glace was born on May 9th, 1951, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
- College: University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. BA in Journalism 1974.
- Married to Mary Glace since 1983
- Major Artistic Influences:
Archibald Thorburn- Scottish Watercolorist of the early 1900’s
Phil Bean – Contemporary Landscape Artist from New Hampshire.
Georges Seurat – Pointillism
While Thom Glace is a native of Central Pennsylvania, he took a long path, finding his way back to the Harrisburg area where he was born. He and his wife lived in various locations, including North Carolina, New Hampshire, St. Croix USVI, and The Netherlands. After college, he worked in a publishing firm, a newspaper, and two advertising firms, including his own in Greensboro, North Carolina.
While managing a firm in the Virgin Islands, he also taught college at the University of the Virgin Islands and wrote a couple of Television shows in the Caribbean region. He was also employed by a major electronics components company in marketing & sales- including an Ex-Pat assignment in The Netherlands and saw work in over 50 countries conducting International Marketing.
Eighteen years ago, Thom had a catastrophic heart attack and was forced to retire on disability
Thom took up watercolors after a year in bed as a hobby to keep him busy. Since then, his art has taken off, specializing in watercolor studies of fish, dragonflies, and birds; he is now in galleries and shops in Maryland, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina Outer Banks, Florida, and Boiling Springs, New Cumberland, Millheim, Lancaster, Mount Holly Springs, and Camp Hill, Pennsylvania.
He has participated in art shows and exhibitions throughout New England, Texas, Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, New York City, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. He has been a featured artist in Harrisburg Magazine, Montana Trout Magazine, Southern Trout Magazine, and Fly Life Magazine, where he was named 2017 Artist of the Year. And Fly Dreamers, Mid-Atlantic Fly Fishing Guide, MidCurrent Publications, Virginia Wildlife Magazine, and was 2016 Artist of the Year for Tenkara USA Magazine.
Thom was named the Festival Artist for the 2014 Virginia Fly Fishing Festival. In 2016 and 2017, Thom Glace was the Festival Artist for the Cape Lookout Albacore & Redfish Festival in Morehead City, North Carolina.
Thom has been active in and donating his time and artwork to charities
He feels he should use his second chance as a contributor to build a special relationship with Project: Healing Waters, which supports wounded veterans, and an organization supporting breast cancer survivors, Casting for Recovery, donating framed originals and prints and usage images on various products. He also has helped many organizations clean up our fresh and saltwater waters.
This part of his growth as a watercolor artist has been his greatest reward
When asked why he has specialized in transparent watercolor studies of fish and dragonfly species, Thom answers, “My love of nature, especially the world found underwater. It comes from a father who loved snorkeling and took our family on island vacations, where he discovered the beauty of underwater creatures.”
Thom was SCUBA diving before he was a teenager
And when his wife gave him an Orvis Fly Fishing lessons at a shop in Boiling Springs as a present, it changed his life – and trout & salmon grew like Kudzu.
His style of painting is what he has labeled a Biological Study Format- showing a species by itself in all its glory. While he started with local species, he has expanded to paint everything from the peacock bass of the Amazon, the marble trout of Slovenia, and Japan’s masu (Cherry) salmon. After many of these fish studies, he branched out to dragonfly studies, where he found the challenge of the delicate features of insect anatomy. Especially in the various wing patterns. He has started to paint the mayfly and stonefly insects. Once in a while, he breaks away to paint an Assateague Island wild horse – or a Megalith in Ireland or Wales.
Thom has started to branch out into songbirds and shorebirds
His painting style is with transparent watercolor, almost 100% dry brush on a Watercolor Board. While this method has no forgiveness- one mistake or blotch means starting over again. All of this in the last 17 years, when he was looking for a reason to get out of bed after his catastrophic heart attack with a ‘non-destructive’ hobby. It has since taken off on a life of its own, where he now works out of his studio, provides work to galleries throughout the country, and commissions to customers worldwide. He has created a wonderful network of contacts worldwide that provide him with reference photos and material of various species he wants to paint. They are from Japan to Slovenia, Montana to the Pyrenees to Ontario.
But after all this, he mainly paints a cutthroat or Kokanee salmon because they are so darn pretty. Thom says, “I have no choice.”
Short list of charities Thom likes supporting:
- Casting for Recovery
- Project Healing Waters
- Trout Unlimited Nation:
- Cumberland Valley Chapter
- Donegal Chapter
- Central Pennsylvania Conservancy
- Yellow Breeches Anglers & Conservation Association