MY LIFE AS AN ARTIST
One of the first questions that is frequently asked of me is, “When did you first start doing art?” This has proven to be a difficult question to answer. One might say that I started making art when I began stacking wooden blocks at a young age. Maybe it was when I drew on my bedroom walls with a Crayola crayon. I believe art starts at birth. Aspiring artists can take lessons, learn techniques, or study the history of art, but ultimately, I believe that it has to come naturally and from within. Art is something one is born with. How one chooses to use that gift, is up to the individual person. Art can be fun, can become a profession, and art can even be therapeutic. I feel lucky to say that all three are true for me. It is a gift that I have been given and enjoy sharing with others. Through years of hard work and dedication, art has even become a profession for me. A quote by the famous artist, Pablo Picasso, sums up how art can be extremely therapeutic. “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”
Tom Panei is an artist residing in Butler, Pennsylvania. Working with chalk pastels has become his passion. Straying from the traditional realism embraced by many pastel artists, Tom’s work recalls the cubism assemblage methods of Pablo Picasso and George Braque. He has created and mastered his own technique of blending chalk pastels on wood panels that has become his signature style. Everything from his colorful abstracts to his large vibrant murals are recognized throughout the tri-state area and beyond.
Throughout his career, Tom has gained a following of collectors from coast to coast in the continental United States in addition to Hawaii. Recently, international collectors from Canada, Italy, and Germany have also commissioned Tom for work. His art has been featured in many articles and publications throughout the country. Winning numerous awards throughout his career, he recently was bestowed the Key to the City of Butler, Pennsylvania as the first Artist-in-Residence. He also gives lectures, teaches, and presents workshops to students in schools and also privately. Since 2011, Tom has been selected to participate in the prestigious international art show, Art Prize, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In 2013, he was chosen to display his work at The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, where he became an instant hit. Furthering his appeal, Tom has starting performing ‘Live Art’ shows at selected venues and clubs. Combining music with his art, he has created a one of a kind experience.
As with many others, my fascination with trains began when I was a young child. I can vividly remember waiting anxiously with my father by the railroad tracks to feel the ground shake and to hear the whistle blow as a train approached the place where we stood. I would always go home with a smile on my face and a flattened penny in my pocket. The inspiration for this piece came from a pencil drawing that I made at the age of 15. Now, 30 years later, my father inspired me to recreate my original sketch in the artistic medium that I now employ. My entry for Artprize 2014 is a chalk on wood replica of The Pere Marquette 1225. In 1941, she was the largest and most powerful steam locomotive built in her time. Originally, The Pere Marquette was charged with the important task of transporting war supplies throughout Michigan. Later, this engineering masterpiece became the inspiration for the popular novel, “The Polar Express.” She still exists today at the Steam Railroad Institute in Owosso, Michigan, where she can be admired in all of her glory. I hope that you enjoy my submission as much as I have enjoyed the challenge of bringing it to life. I have titled this piece as the great Johnny Cash once sang, “I Hear the Train a Comin’!”
Earlier this year, Tom released his first solo album. Acoustic Sessions is the result of over two years of recordings made with several of Tom's friends from around the country. Enjoy the album here, and be sure to get your own copy through CD Baby!
Tom's bio is available for download as a PDF file by clicking the icon above.