Thomas Drymon: Showing the Hand in His Paintings
From Cecile Oreste
He’s back in DC now, but when artist Thomas Drymon was living in New Orleans people said that “beauty is in the decay of the city.” But Drymon said it was difficult to look past the hardships of the city to find it. His earlier paintings, with heavy brush strokes and a dark palette, reflected his emotions at that time.
Surprisingly, it was the devastation of Hurricane Katrina that marked a turning point in his style.
“I was reacting to the natural environment I was in. I was struck by the poverty, injustice and racism of the area, and was really angry,” he said.
“I started looking inward after Hurricane Katrina. I appreciated New Orleans more as I began to learn about its importance to its residents and started finding beauty in the city.”
This experience, along with advice from a friend, prompted Drymon to balance the darkness of his earlier paintings with a more positive energy. He started using a lighter hand with his brush strokes and experimented with the juxtaposition of pastel colors.
Today, Drymon challenges the conventional definition of beauty in the man-made world through his paintings.
“I make messy paintings with loose, informal lines and use colors that are not necessarily attractive side by side,” Drymon said. “I want people to see my hand in the work. I think it creates a deeper connection for my audience.”
He also achieves this through the medium of photography. “There are a lot of similarities in the way I paint and how I shoot,” Drymon said.
“I create flaws in my prints by covering the lens with my thumb, shooting out of focus or cutting off objects. I want to show that the traditional definition of a good picture could be broader.”
Since moving back to DC a few years ago, Drymon has become a member of Mid City Artists and has exhibited his work at various galleries in the area including Nevin Kelly Gallery, Studio Gallery, Gallery Neptune in Bethesda and the Athenaeum in Alexandria. He has also shown at several local businesses such as Biagio Fine Chocolate on 18th Street NW, Caramel on U Street and Vastu on 14th Street NW.
In addition to creating original artwork, Drymon is a freelance graphic designer. He has primarily worked with nonprofits including Smithsonian Contributing Membership, Holocaust Museum, and World Wildlife Fund among others.
Drymon recently started Thomas Drymon Selects, a curatorial project which shows provocative, contemporary work from experienced artists in exhibitions three times per year. He also plans to experiment with different media in the future including film making and sculpture.