©photo Noah Kalina, 2017
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Professional Practice History
John Tomlinson’s professional art practice, which spans four decades, embraces drawing as major work. Making art since 1969, his work maps the historic transition that artists made from an analog time to a digital one.
From the 1969 drawings displayed in the book Nine Drawings: Skeleton Series to 1999, he drew expressively from observation in wax-oil crayon, paint stick, pencil and graphite. During the early 2000s he combined his drawings with digital video animation to create narrative motion drawings with sound on the theme of the passing of time, small tribulations of life and other human interactions.
In author and critic Douglas Davis' reflection on Tomlinson’s solo exhibition at 55 Mercer Gallery in New York, 1991+/-, Davis writes:
“….In harmony with all these tendencies, Tomlinson is expansive, personal, open-ended. He reminds me most of all of the lines in the magnificent Russian novel, The Master and Margarita, in which the circumscribed heroine, Margarita, takes off from the ground and flies, nude but unnoticed, over Moscow: Invisible and free! Invisible and free! In any sense his decision in 1991 to give up compression, perfection, and the idea of “singularity” for a work that knows no end (only a beginning) is as liberating as Margarita’s flight or the Information Highway, whose lust for infinitude he plainly shares.” (from 1000 Miles More, the voices of John Tomlinson, Douglas Davis 1992)
Tomlinson’s 1999 drawing series, Modes of Escape, reflecting on the many ways we use escape in our daily lives, was shown in his solo exhibition at The Painting Center, New York in 1999.
In 2010, he began using a translucent polyester substrate in a series of large graphite drawings titled Dark Storms. These works led to a drawing series of self-reflections on the experience of being male entitled Rage: The Misery of Men.
Rage: The Misery Of Men, is an ongoing drawing project that includes a collaboration with poet/psychologist Karen Morris which culminated in a 2016 book of her poetry written to his digital and graphite drawings entitled Rage: The Misery of Men :: The Hope of Men Dawning, available at Amazon Books and Three Stones Press.
In Nightwatch, his 2017-2018 drawing series , Tomlinson pursues metaphors of the self-protective, anxious watchfulness experienced in our present time, exploring the ideas of wakeful sleep and triggered alertness as a recurring theme in large figurative graphite drawings.
Daywatch, also in graphite and in drawing animation, follows Nightwatch in 2018 and continues into 2020, is more, in want of a better word, outward-looking. The puzzle becomes what is the object of the person looking upward and outward. Is it awe or threat or awe at threat? We have to decide in our hearts and minds as artist-beings on Earth with all the authenticity we can muster, the responses to the momentous, possibly cataclysmic, changes coming our way very fast from the Millennium to the present.
John Tomlinson’s studio art practice has extended to professional, community and collaborative projects in the Upper Delaware River Valley of New York and Pennsylvania.
He creates his art work in the 20th Century Artists Studios of Daria Dorosh and John Tomlinson, located in Sullivan County in the Town of Lumberland, NY.
With over 25 years of teaching in four art schools and directing an undergraduate studio residency program in New York for 43 North American art schools (AICAD/New York Studio Residency Program), he has lent his experience to lecturing in the community on drawing, the dynamics of pictorial composition, teaching art, contemporary art, the meaning and importance of art and the relationship between art and the viewing public.
Tomlinson’s community and art professional activities to date have included being a participant at Mildred's Lane :: a contemporary [art] complex(ity) in Narrowsburg, NY and Beach Lake, PA; and a supporter of the NACL Theatre in Highland Lake, New York.
He is one of four founders in 2001 of the Barryville Area Arts Association, created to foster the fine arts and hand-made crafts in a 10-town area of New York and Pennsylvania, comprising more than 165 members in all the fine arts and artisan practices, and centered in Barryville, NY, on the Upper Delaware River.
In 2015 Tomlinson ventured into curating with the exhibition drawing BIG : the immediacy of touch with artists Judy Glantzman, Esther Podemski, Liza Philips and himself with a show essay by art writer/critic Dominique Nahas at the Delaware Valley Arts Center in Narrowsburg, NY.
Tomlinson is seemingly forever contemplating an invitation to collaborate with Kari Margolis, director-master performer of the Margolis Brown Adaptors theater company for a theatrical adaptation of his Misery of Men drawing series.
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