Publisher's Note: I've known Tom Hale for almost as long as I've been a full-time artist. In fact, Tom and I became AFAS members the same year almost 30 years ago.
I've seen Tom in action on many fronts: Meadowbrook art Chairman for 14 years, ACD Museum art Chairman for 35 plus years, and CCCA Museum for 25 years for example.
I've also seen Tom in action on more personal and trying issues: the unexpected and sad passing of his first wife Mickie some decades ago and and a more recent sudden medical issue that sidelined him for almost a year. While I admire his work and contribution to the art world at both the organizational and participant level, it is the personal issues and happenings in every life that are the true measure of the man. Coincidently, Tom and wife Fran's anniversary falls on the same date as Cathy and mine and we have enjoyed our annual anniversary dinners in Carmel. This will be much missed.
Tom surprised us all when he announced his retirement from AFAS a few months ago. His contribution to the Society on both the artistic and personal level has been significant.
story by Wallace Wyss and Tom Hale
Tom Hale is an automotive fine artist from Michigan, a Navy Destroyer veteran and a graduate, with Honors, from the prestigious Art Center College of Design. He began his career as a Styling Designer with General Motors for two years, moved on to Chrysler for a year and then to American Motors for seventeen at which time he ended his automotive career and became a full-time artist.
During his 42 year career as an artist, Tom has completed over 3000 original paintings; has sold his work in 12
different countries; has been commissioned to create 62 posters to date and has won over 350 art awards. His original paintings are shown at such prestigious events as the Pebble Beach Concours, Meadowbrook, Amelia Island, Auburn and many classic car events. Tom works mostly with acrylics on canvas, boards and occasionally watercolors.
Wallace Wyss, a West Coast historian/artist, looked at a variety of Hale paintings and, curious about Hale’s view of automobile art from the viewpoint of a former designer, asked questions about specific paintings. Here are Hale’s answers straight from the artist:
Wyss: In a conversation with you at Pebble, you told me “I am never afraid of color,” Well, I have to ask, is there in our society a myth that some colors “belong to women” such as lavender, and some colors belong to men, and you’ve crossed that line? Such as in the 540K close up of the grill and hood…
Hale: It is true that some colors seem more feminine then masculine. Not for me however as the use of a particular color,
Duesenberg and Glads
on a car for example, can be appealing to either. Color is a personal choice for all of us and for me it is exciting to pursue any color I wish in my paintings. I use lavender/purples/blues very often and love their look. Purples, for example, with a combination of greens can be very sensuous and yet somewhat difficult to combine. The use of color in paintings can convey feelings of memories, passions and emotions. Colors when used with great expertise can cause a viewer of the art to love the artwork and not even realize that sometimes, it is the color that most excites them.
Wyss: In the painting of the Duesenberg engine, is it your belief that, in certain cars, the engine is half the story, in other words people like the car not only for its looks but its power plant, hence you give the power plant its due in the context of the car? By the way, I know there is a new French automotive artist who paints engines, but hers are largely more "exotic" engines, so are you drawn only to paint an engine if it is an "accomplished" engine?
Hale: Chrysler Corporation contacted me years ago to create a painting of the ‘Hemi’ engine. Having not previously used an engine in my paintings I decided I should first practice with creating a painting of my favorite automobile – Duesenberg. The Duesenberg engine has all of the ingredients that I like for a painting – chrome, size, color and numerous details. I also felt that it borders on a sculptural work of art and could stand alone as a painting. My feeling is that not all engines are that attractive
nor do they interest me enough to create a painting of them. Over the years, I have created paintings of maybe four engines, two of them Duesenbergs.
Wyss: The Delahaye 165 has to be one of the best styled cars in history. Did you feel, in choosing to depict this car that the windscreen rolled down (inside the body) was a key part of the design, and fairly unique, hence it is the major focus? Or did you feel this car is so over photographed, and so many portraits painted of it, that you had to find a unique perspective?
Hale: I want to be clear to the reader what my intentions are when choosing a particular automobile to create a painting of. I carefully select an area of the automobile that fascinates me; it may be a portion of something as simple as a Plymouth or as incredible as a Delahaye. In this case, the overall vehicle interested me, not so much the rolled down windscreen, but I did not want