Tom Root is a portrait artist who works in the Old World style of painting a portrait from life, and having his subject “sit” for their painting. Rather than paint from a photography session, Tom believes he can better depict his subjects if he learns who they are during the typical week-long portrait session. With this process, his subjects’ strengths, vulnerabilities, emotions and even their thoughts exude off of his canvases.
Since the artist paints from life, no time can be wasted during the sitting, and his paintings simultaneously have a sense of being “in the now” as much as being timeless in their execution.
The artists states: “This is what I do with children: If I decide on a pose where the child is looking away, I use video. If the child is looking at me, books on tape. Children need to be painted quickly. I have tried over the years to speed up my process, experimenting with various canvases and approaches. There are some hard-to-predict variables:
- The available light source when I’m on the road
- Temperament of the child-some are more wiggly than others
- Me, oftentimes I’m able to quickly do whatever I want on the canvas, amazing even myself, but occasionally I’m just not “on” and have to sweat it out.
I’m easy and low-key with the children. (I try to direct parents away from correcting them:”Sit still for Mr. Root!” and thus making me an enemy. Children usually sit better than their parents expect them to.) I like to decide on the pose and characterization by watching the child in unguarded moments, at dinner, etc.–how they carry themselves and interact w/ others. I believe in presenting children naturally, and not too gussied up or rigidly presented as though they were a piece of expensive furniture.”
The artist studied drawing and painting at Lyme Academy of Fine Arts in Old Lyme, Connecticut, under Aaron Shikler N.A. and Deane G. Keller, and at Ringling School of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida. In addition to being a painter, Tom Root is also a songwriter, musician, and a writer of children’s stories. He lives in Tennessee with his wife, painter Peggy Root, and their two children.