Our featured artist for July-August, 2018 is multiple award-winning ISAP Signature Master memberTom Heflin. Tom was awarded first place in the ISAP 2018 Master and Signature Members Exhibition for his painting "Traces #3."
From an unlikely childhood beginning in the small Southern townof Monticello, Arkansas, Tom Heflin managed not only to survive but to excel as an artist. His desperate family moved north to the midsize industrial city of Rockford, Illinois, where Tom's mother found work in a factory. Tom, his brother and sister along with their mother Mary, moved into a shabby trailer park with Mary's brother and hisfamily. That meant seven people in one double-wide trailer. The family did not feel the world owed them anything other than the chance to prove themselves good workers. "Traces #3"
Fortunately, Tom met a seventh grade teacher who recognized his talent and was the first teacher who encouraged him to pursue art.
After graduation from high school, Tom enrolled in the Art Institute of Chicago, but his experience there was short-lived. He married, and a first child was born. Tom left art school and began working for an outdoor advertising company to support his new family. He painted signs on trucks, on brick walls, and designed layouts and letterheads. At night, when his growing family of five children were finally tucked in bed, he painted fine art until the wee hours of the morning. For sixteen long years he pursued his love of painting and began entering local art competitions. After winning some awards, he began entering national and international art shows and had the good fortune to win some prestigious awards.
His long hours at work and home finally caught up with him when a perforated ulcer nearly ended his life. At this point Tom decided it was now or never, so he quit his job at the sign company and searched for a studio location without distractions. The family had only enough money saved to last three months but Tom thought if he had the chance to devote his full energies to art for that brief period he might have a chance to make it. At least he would be doing something he loved to do. He couldn't find a suitable space near home to serve as a studio, but while hunting in the back country forty miles away, he accidentally came across an old abandoned farmhouse. The owner lived in the nearby town of Freeport, Illinois, and Tom got permission to use the farmhouse as a studio rent-free because the ramshackle place had no running water, only an outhouse, and--long before cellphones--no telephone.
In June of 1970 Tom moved his easel and a small refrigerator into this isolated relic on a dead end road. He had only a kitchen cookstove for heat and a pump for water. The place looked like an island surrounded by cornfields. Tom started work on a series of paintings he had to sell in September or his hopes for a career in the arts would be over. Needless to say, it wasn't the beginning of the end...it was the beginning of a forty year career that continues to this day.
In addition to being a Signature Master member of ISAP, Tom is a Signature member of both the National Watercolor Society (NWS) and the Transparent Watercolor Society of America. He has been listed in Who's Who in American Art, the New York Art Review, and the Chicago Art Review. His work is held in numerous collections throughout the United States.
"You Don't Know Lonesome"
Tom Heflin understands how fortunate he is that the good people of America's midwest recognized his talent and turned his dream of becoming an artist into reality by purchasing his work at this pivotal moment in his life.
"Thunderhead Over Emmert's Farm"
To see more of Tom's work and to learn more about his artistic career, visit his website at: https://tomheflin.com/
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