– Extract from ‘Royal Tunbridge Wells & Tonbridge CommunityAd Magazine’, Winter 2022 –
It’s no secret that Tunbridge Wells and Tonbridge are stunning areas to live with eye-catching beauty around every corner. And it’s even less of a surprise that local artists take inspiration from the history and culture surrounding them; artists like Tonbridge born Mike Thomas. Mike is a local artist who has spent the last 10 years working as a Graphic Designer but has recently taken the plunge into freelance work and started working on his art full time. We caught up with Mike to find out a little bit more about his passion for art, his process and what advice he would give to those just starting out in the world of art.
Talking to us about one of his earliest memories Mike explained: “Bizarrely, my earliest artistic memory is probably making models out of toothpaste boxes and cardboard tubes at my grandmother’s house. She would collect all her recycling in a big bag and whenever I would visit, she would pour the contents out, hand me some tape and scissors and I would occupy myself for hours making cars, boats, planes and all sorts of contraptions. It was like DaVinci’s workshop but with more tea and biscuits:’
Can you tell us about the style of your paintings and where you find your inspiration?
“Everything has an influence in some regard from grand international art galleries to the masterful pages of the Beano. However, my favorite influence is other artists and creative peers you can meet everywhere you go. They are the fires in the furnace that encourage me ‘to’ draw and paint rather than worry so much about ‘what’ to draw and paint. It’s always hard to classify your own art but when boiled down I would say contemporary urban and rural landscapes. Capturing the ‘feel’ of a place is important to me and I find so much inspiration from the area we live in. We’re very lucky to have so much so near to us in the south East and the UK”
Can you explain the process you go through to our readers?
“Every piece starts with an idea of where I want to visit before grabbing my tools and venturing out. If it’s a day trip or a week’s adventure I’m always very focused on a specific place or views that have captured my attention that I want to commit to canvas. After setting up my equipment and a rough pencil sketch to mark out the composition. Then I’ll happily paint for a few hours until I have achieved what I set out to do or the weather turns. It’s wonderful to work out the air but I recommend packing an umbrella:’
Any advice for people just starting out in the art of painting?
“It’s cliche but just start! We’re all still learning so don’t worry if you’ve never held a brush before or want to rekindle your old artistic flair. Although the first page in a new sketchbook may always be the hardest and most intimidating, once you’ve collected a dozen doodles I guarantee you’ll be able to see your improvement and be hooked on the joy art and exploration can bring:’