We had the good fortune of connecting with TOM JEAN WEBB and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi TOM JEAN WEBB, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
I believe ultimately there’s a sincerity to what I do and how I approach it. One of the key factors for me in regards to my art is to play and have fun. I had a very conscious and direct conversation with myself a few years back, that I was meant to be enjoying this process. That although ultimately challenging at times, that the process of creating should be exciting, fun, instinctive and playful.
Once I truly adopted that mantra it became easier to access my work, I had offloaded a degree of expectation and had simplified everything. There was more room for me to be present with the work and access myself and my thoughts. Everything became more organic.
The other affects of this that I hadn’t necessarily anticipated is that once the work was completed I felt I knew it better, that I could critique it with honest eyes and see not only what was successful but was ok with what hadn’t quite worked out. I became much better at understanding where the work derived from so I could investigate further.
This lead to a decision to blur the lines between my work and my real life, to play with the cross over of reality and creation. Trying to develop a circle of influence, of life influencing art to art influencing to life.
The other major part of my success would be learning to collaborate and allow others in. To be open and excited about the creative process with other voices and the potential to learn from friends, family and peers.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My work started off as a means of transportation. To depict a place created and imagined with a sense of romance and nostalgia. I then became interested in the idea of starting a dialogue between the imagined and real, to see what this new reality and I could create.
To do so I started to take trips to the lands of my work, specifically the American Southwest. It has created an interesting dynamic between the leading and learning forces of being, art leading life or life leading art. Making work inspired by the realness in what I find but also allowing space for the added artistic creation or surreal.
I use story telling in my work, I love the idea of a visual language and how this can portray a narrative. I see my individual works as frames of one long continual film. When these frames are laid out together patterns emerge. Objects, colors and shapes all start to inform each other. To develop an idea of art as communication, to allow conversation with the viewer
There’s an ordered dreaminess to my paintings. The solitary figures, lonely landscapes, and palette lend a certain romance, while the thick, black outlines, which surround everything in the images, from stones to mesas to snakes, make the individual elements in the paintings look like pieces in a puzzle. Theres a developed idea of investigating the use of space, specifically how to create room for an unknown or unforeseen in an artwork. To create work that allows someone to find room to breathe, to participate and discover. How negative space can speak through the process of absence, a voice through silence. That in a song it’s the silent moments that make the sounds.
I create work to try understand the human condition, relationship to one another and the natural world, through quiet contemplation, solitude and ceremony. Visual poems as told by a journeymen, wandering through land and time in search of meaningful connection and creativity. Playing with making work that speaks of the real, the surreal, fantasy and the found.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
If we had a week I would maybe head out of town to visit Joshua Tree National Park or Angeles National Forest for a little camping but if there was a couple spare days, I always love popping to LACMA to see the diverse collection of art and antiques.
I always enjoying grabbing food at Canters and drinks in Kibitz on Fairfax.
Melrose Trading Post on Sundays is always a fun place to wander and grab some treasure.
Also I would definitely make the trip out to the RTH store in Palm Springs.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I think a key part to any creative success is to absorb all the influences life has to bring. Art is a creative response to living, this includes the people you meet and the stories they bring. Personally It has become increasingly important to recognize that, the value and joy people bring to my life and therefor my work. It enriches it in all ways.
One person I am always thankful to is Rene Holguin, owner and creator of RTH. I was very lucky in that he found my work whilst on a trip to London and invited me to collaborate on an artistic project for a new store of his in LA. I learnt so much from him. The way he was so passionate about his work. How generous and humble he was with the creative process and his ability to have a broad and ambitious outlook/approach.
Another person who immediately springs to mind over the last few years is my fiancé. She has helped me understand a more joyful and softer approach to life and my work.