Thomas Paquette, native of Minnesota now living on seven acres of beautiful land in Pennsylvania, is a painter that uses gouache painting and oil to create his paintings. A dialogue is often created between these two mediums by starting with one type of painting, oil or gouache, to develop his idea with the other media in two or more separate paintings. His most unique form of paintings are his tiny gouache paintings, often small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. Gouache is a thicker watercolor medium. Thomas is inspired by the beauty of landscapes and portrays them through his intense and arbitrary colors he chooses to use. You can’t help but be captivated by these tiny, yet extravagant paintings.
In the late 1970’s, Thomas dropped out of school from the University of Minnesota and took to the roads by hitchhiking and freight train hopping to explore the world. He even went as far as Yukon Territory and Alaska. In a recent presentation at the Burchfield Penney Art Center, Thomas spoke of freight hopping around the country as inspiration for his landscape paintings. He stated that looking out the open door of the freight car was like looking at a moving landscape that was naturally framed.
Thomas begins the process of his paintings outdoors, but will bring his paintings to his studio to finalize them. He chooses to paint under natural light through a skylight in his studio, almost as if he were actually outside. In an interview with Rob Katkowski from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, Thomas stated, referring to a painting, “I could tell you exactly where that was, and then you would go there and say ‘Oh my God, I don’t know what he’s painting.’ That’s just the nature of painting in the studio and that’s the beauty of it for me, that I can switch it all around.” A lot of what he paints comes from memory or his own interpretation of that scene.
Initially, he does not draw details on his paintings because his paintings are constantly evolving. For example, he once covered a whole canvas with a landscape painting and changed it several different times before finally accidentally ripping the canvas. He then created a different painting on the wood underneath the canvas and decided it was then finished. For that piece, it was time to call it a day!
Thomas Paquette’s work has been shown in fifty solo exhibitions in prominent galleries and museums including shows in New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Washington DC, and Maine. His paintings have also been selected to hang worldwide including in sixteen U.S. embassies on five continents. A series of 60 of his paintings, both gouache and oil, concluded a showing at the Rockwell Museum in Corning, NY in March of this year.
“If your life is an artwork, how will you shape it? Your greatest asset is your passion.
Find what really interests you and pursue that without looking for approval or remuneration. Your passionate involvement is by itself the most valuable reward in any endeavor; be careful not to trade that for a steady but dulling income. If you care to be an artist, you must learn to survive simply so you can do your next artwork.” -Thomas Paquette
— Katie Mallaber
Katie Mallaber graduated from Buffalo State College in 2010 with her Bachelor's Degree in Art Education. She is currently back at Buffalo State College working on her Master's Degree in the Multidisciplinary Studies Program with her focus in Ceramics and Art Education. She is also in a local cover band and enjoys supporting local music.