Tom Graves is first and foremost a painter of light. In particular he loves the California sunlight in all of its forms including dazzling light, reflected light and changing of the quality of light over distances and with haze, as well as the feeling that such light is able to inspire in the viewer. He uses oil paint on canvas to paint “en plein air”, attempting to complete each painting while working on-site outdoors. For the last seventeen years, he has painted in the Santa Monica Mountains and Conejo Valley areas, with an occasional trip to the Yosemite Valley. He is still learning to see and appreciate the California landscape, with its many colors and textures.
He moved to Newbury Park in 1998. Prior to that, he lived in New Jersey for most of his life. While there, he often visited California and took several trips to Yosemite. There he fell in love with the landscape and he knew he wanted to live in the West to paint. As a child, his ambition was to be an artist, but family circumstances kept him from realizing it. He began painting in earnest thirty years ago, taking courses at local art associations, studying landscape painting with local artist James McGinley and then studying painting on his own. He painted portraits and figures for the first few years and then concentrated on landscape painting, where his true love lies. He painted mostly in the Princeton NJ and Bucks County, PA areas. He became particularly adept at painting water and snow scenes, perhaps the only thing he misses about East Coast painting. He has had paintings in many shows in the Princeton and Bucks County areas, and, prior to moving west, was represented by the Coryell Gallery in Lambertville, NJ. He has had solo shows at Princeton University and at the Coryell Gallery.
He has not shown paintings for the last few years because of pressures from his day job and spending time with his family. However, with the availability of the internet, he is now able to show his work without having to take time away from his painting.
The artists whose work he admires most are the American painters Sargent and George Inness, the French painters Corot and Monet, and the Spaniard Joachim Sorolla. Since moving to California, he has been inspired by the paintings of California artists Edgar Payne, William Wendt, Hanson Putoff and Guy Rose.
He has shown his work at Princeton University, Rutgers University, Mercer County College, Coryell Galleries, Thousand Oaks Civic Center Auditorium, Morseburg Galleries in West Hollywood, High Studio in Moorpark and Canyonwood Galleries in Thousand Oaks.