Six-Gun Justice Podcast’s co-host Richard
Prosch recently had the opportunity to talk with Western artist Andy Thomas,
whose painting grace the covers of some of Rich’s books.
SIX-GUN JUSTICE: Have you always liked
to draw, or is it something you took up as an adult? Has your artwork always
ANDY THOMAS: I have been drawing and painting all my
life. I have always done a wide assortment of subjects, including westerns.
Today, most of the work I show the public is western or politically themed.
SGJ: Do you have a western or rural background?
What’s your inspiration?
THOMAS: I grew up in a small town, Carthage, in
southwest Missouri. My family owned a small, nonworking farm nearby. My
interest in the West came from Frederic Remington and Charles Russell
reproductions. Of course, Hollywood must have influenced me.
SGJ: Do you work exclusively in oils? What other
media do you enjoy?
THOMAS: I enjoy all media but most of my major pieces
are in oil. I do many works in pen and ink and watercolor.
SGJ: How do you come up with a specific scene? Is
it suggested to you from literature or real life? Can you walk us through the
THOMAS: That is a great question with lots of answers.
Here are some of my paths to a painting: Sometimes I set out to do an iconic
image of the West; People suggest ideas (I think being open to the ideas of
others is good); I have read many journals and first-hand accounts of the West
and those stories prompt ideas; Yes, sometimes literature inspires paintings; I’ve
done some paintings based on songs; Sometimes I start with an emotion and try
to build an idea from that; Many times I paint historical scenes, which I enjoy
researching; I have sometimes used a painting of another artist, say Howard
Pyle, identified why I like the painting, and tried to incorporate those things
into a new painting; Rarely a good idea just pops into my head
SGJ: I can say I have had success and failure with
all these methods. Once I have an idea for a painting that I am enthused about,
I doodle small layouts with pencil and graduate to a quick, 9 x 12” color
study. Some ideas die there when the study is uninspiring. Less than half
become full paintings.
SGJ: Your work has a great deal of kinetic energy.
Lots of movement. Do you work from photo shoots to catch the action in the
THOMAS: Those comments about my paintings are words I
love hearing because it is something I strive for: energy and motion. I usually start with horses and figures that I
make up in my color study. I have many horse photographs and close-ups that I
use to do a finished painting, using my study for the dynamic motion. Figures I
usually just make up. If I need to, I will pose myself for some ideas using a
digital camera. I almost always shoot photographs for hands and guns. I want
the horses and figures, through their poses, to help tell the story of the
painting as much as the setting and clothing.
SGJ: Do you use live models for the variety of
unique faces and expressions your characters employ?
THOMAS: Creating unique faces can be a challenge.
Usually, I make up the faces. Sometimes I try to make them look like people I
know or even actors. Sometimes I have used photos of family members. The
natural impulse is to paint good looking faces, but the best ones fall short of
being handsome or pretty.
SGJ: Do you paint full time? What’s a typical day
like for you?
THOMAS: I paint fewer oil paintings than I did before,
but I still do a lot of artwork. When I have a painting or project in the works,
I am in the studio at 10:30 in the morning till 6:00pm. I go back up from
9:00pm to midnight.
SGJ: What happens to your work when you’re
finished? Do you work toward putting together shows or gallery displays? Do you
take commissions and/or sell your work online?
THOMAS: It is my good fortune that my wife and
business partner, Dina has always handled all business affairs for us. She varnishes the paintings, has them
scanned, framed and shipped. We have been working together for 29 years. It’s
been a very good life.