Meet Thom Glace, 2018 Artist of the Year – Asking a Famous Watercolor Artist Some Questions
By Skip Clement
Thom, why do you specialize in transparent watercolor studies of fish and dragonfly species?
“My answer starts with my love of nature, especially water. That comes from a father who loved snorkeling and took our family to island vacations where I discovered the beauty of the underwater creatures. I was SCUBA diving before I was a teenager!”
When Thom’s wife gave him an Orvis Fly Fishing lesson as a present – his love of trout & salmon grew like Kudzu
“I always loved what I call the ‘Biological Study Format‘ – showing a species by itself in all its glory. After 30 or so fish studies, I decided to branch out to the insect world, where I wanted the challenge of the delicate features found in the insect world.
My first attempts were of a dragonfly and a butterfly- I fell in love with the dragonfly. While I started with local species, I now paint what catches my fancy, everything from the peacock bass of the Amazon, the marble trout of Slovenia to the masu (Cherry) Salmon of Japan.
Once in a while, I will break away to paint an Assateague Island Wild Horse or two – or a Megalith in Ireland or Wales. I am starting to branch out into songbirds, but my love is watercolor studies of fish and dragonflies.
I paint with transparent watercolor, almost 100% drybrush on Crescent Mat Board. While this method has absolutely no forgiveness – one mistake or blotch and I start over! I love the soft effect you get that gives an excellent balance between realism and that thing called the ‘painterly look or effect.’”
Seven years ago, Thom had a Catastrophic Heart Attack, and was forced to retire on disability
He took up watercolors to have a little hobby. Since then his art has taken off. Specializing in watercolor studies of fish and dragonflies, he is now in galleries and shops in Montana, New Hampshire, Gettysburg, Boiling Springs, New Cumberland, Lancaster, Coburn and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He is expanding to galleries in North Carolina, Texas, and Delaware in the coming months. He has participated in exhibits from NYC, West Yellowstone, Montana, Lady Bird Johnson Park, outside of Stephenville, Texas, plus many exhibitions in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia.
“All of this in the last six years, to give me a reason to get out of bed. I took up watercolor painting after suffering from a catastrophic heart attack for a hobby. It has since taken off on a life of its own where I now work out of my studio and provide work to galleries throughout the country and commissions to customers around the world. I have created an incredible network of contacts from all over the world that provide me with reference photos and material of species to paint. They are from Japan to Slovenia, Montana to New Hampshire to Oregon. Plus they encourage me to continue. One particular relationship is with two entomologists from Texas A & M who have provided me with reference photos of dragonfly species.”
SIDEBAR: Post recovery, his cardiology team told Thom, a lifelong and active fly fisher, that his angling days were over. Hold the despair; serendipity was on its way – a commissioned work led him to the Pacific Coast connection where he was introduced to a Tenkara USA certified guide/expert. Now Thom is the expert Tenkara angler. He rarely misses a prime day on his rich Central Pennsylvania home waters with one of his Tenkara rods, hand-tied flies, and trusty cane. The limestone bandit reportedly menaces the trout neighborhoods year ’round.
“I was given a second chance at life seven years ago, and a wife who supports my love of watercolors while putting up with a crazy artist. I try to stay in the moment of every day of my life.”
Born: 1951, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
College: University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. BA in Journalism 1974
Married to Mary Minter Glace since 1983
Major Artistic Influences:
Archibald Thorburn – Scottish Watercolorist of the early 1900s, Phil Bean –Contemporary Landscape Artist from New Hampshire, Gerges Seurat- French Post-Impressionist (Pointillism) 1859-1891.
Thom had a high powered corporate job that involved stressful international challenges and mind-numbing worldwide travel. Perfect seasoning for the massive heart attack he endured almost a decade ago.
Giving comes naturally to Glace
Thom volunteers a lot of time and his art for the advancement of Central Pennsylvania Conservancy’s goals which parallel his: land acquisitions, preserve wetlands, and habitat protection. Too, he provides active support for Casting for Recovery and Healing Waters with both time and paintings to raise money via raffles.
The following is just a small sample of Thom’s collection and available prints of watercolor illustrations: