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  • Writer's picturePeggy Nichols

Tom Garner, an artist whose work reflects classical painting in translation...


'Evening of the 6th St. Bridge', oil on linen, 36 x 36 inches.

left to right: '6th St. Bridge with Pepper', oil on denim, 36 x 36 inches., 'The 6th St. Bridge Overhead', oil on denim, 36 x 36 inches., 'Stop 6th St. Bridge', oil on denim, 36 x 36 inches.

'It may not be immediately apparent but my Urban Paintings are directly inspired by Classical Oil Painting. I went to UCSD at a time when they didn’t even have drawing and painting classes in the Visual Arts program; everything was Conceptual. So I went to study at the Academy of Fine Arts In Venice and I started making paintings of Old Master Paintings as they appeared on museums walls with their aging, reflections, and perspective distortions as a “Conceptual” statement about our place in Art History and the so-called “return to painting.” I was making paintings of paintings as it were, and I was seduced by the beauty of their technique and discovered the importance of layering and glazing.''

'When I came back to the United States I was thinking how could I translate these ideas about layering into a more contemporary form. And of course the first thing that came to mind was the layering possibilities in Photoshop. The beautifully painted signage and cars along the streets of LA were the perfect subject matter. This is, after all, the drive-in, drive-thru, and drive-by capitol of the Car Culture. So I drove around and took many pictures bathed in the warm So-Cal sunshine. From there I created layered compositions that felt like the flittered reflections in shop windows as we rush by. I stretched my denim canvases (yes, denim because it seemed more Urban) leaving the raw denim exposed at the borders as a frame. Then I painted in oils my multi-layered composition created in Photoshop using many of the same techniques I learned from the Old Masters. Finally like the old Masters I put a patina of bitumen to unify the colors and accentuate the texture of the brushstrokes and then finish the painting with a thick coat of Dammar varnish to give it the depth and luster typical of traditional paintings. So in the final analysis my painting is very much about the Art of Painting.'

'Holiday', oil on denim, 56 x 32 inches.

A Triptych of Three Paintings,

left to right: 'El Gallo',oil on denim, 42 x 44 inches.,

'Far East', oil on denim, 42 x 44 inches., 'Body Paint, oil on denim, 42 x 44 inches.

'Rexall', oil on denim, 54 x 32 inches.

Thomas Garner was raised under the glow of Southern California sunshine. He studied art at University of California,San Diego,at a time when everything was Conceptual and Avant-Garde: Installation Art, Performance Art, Video Art, etc.

Thomas went to do his junior year abroad at the Academia di Belli Arti in Venice. He fell in love with all things Italian, and there was no turning back. Everything was too exciting and too interesting. He learned directly from the great Venetian masters: Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese and Tiepolo.

His love affair with Italy lasted 24 years where he bought a 17th century home on the beautiful Brenta River that flows into the heart of the Venetian lagoon, married Italian, and had three sons. He built a successful career in the fashion business. He worked as a graphic designer for some of the biggest brands of the time such as Diesel, Benetton, Nordica, and eventually as Creative Director at Replay. He published a book in Italy of his design called Casual Design by Thomas Garner. He was a member of the Italian art group, Gruppo Tata, founded by renowned artist/designer Ennio Chiggio. During this period he worked on many portrait commissions among which were Princess Stephanie of Monaco and her children and Eros Ramazzotti and his family.

He was later repatriated to Los Angeles by Lucky Brand as Art Director. He currently works freelance, designing graphics for such clients as Bob Dylan, Paul Simon and John Fogerty. He teaches at UCLA Extension Classical Painting in the Style of the Venetian Masters among other classes, and at the Kline Academy. He has exhibited widely from Milan to Los Angeles. See his website at: and YouTube channel Thomas Garner.

'Peligrosso', oil on denim, 54 x 22 inches.

'Fine Salon', oil on denim, 40 x 28 inches.


'VW,( a portrait )', oil on denim, 56 x 36 inches.

left to right: 'American Classic', oil on denim, 54 x 32 inches., 'Muscle Car', oil on denim, 56 x 32 inches.,

'Tienda Mexicana( a portrait )', oil on denim, 52 x 39 inches.

'Cadillac', oil on denim, 36 x 36 inches.

left to right: 'Chevrolet', oil on denim, 36 x 36 inches., 'Cruzin',

oil on denim, 36 x 36 inches., 'Deluxe', oil on denim, 36 x 36 inches.

'57 Chevy', oil on denim, 56 32 inches.

'Chevy Impala', oil on denim, 56 x 32 inches.

Tom Garner, in his studio, in Los Angeles, CA.

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