Keeping It Realist

Thomas Easley will be the resident artist for the 2021 Hudson Valley Wine & Food Fest

The Hudson Valley Wine & Food Fest will be graced this September with the presence of a master American artist. Thomas Easley, who is at this very moment painting the still life that will be the centerpiece of the poster for the 2021 Wine & Food Fest, is a figurative American painter known for his bold and kinetic artwork that straddles the line between impressionism and abstract art. His art reflects a lifelong effort to live in the moment and share how he sees the world – dynamic, multidimensional and full of contrasts. That sense of presence is evident in his art, whether in the movement of his nudes or the joie de vivre of the roosters that roam his canvas. His landscapes are not just tranquil visions; the play of light and color creates a sense of drama. When painting toward the realism side of the spectrum, one of his favorite subjects is, serendipitously for us, the wine bottle. Easley and his fine painting will both be present in a special booth at the festival, taking place at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds on Saturday and Sunday, September 11 and 12, 2021.

Easley was born in Oroville, California, and raised in Lake Tahoe when it was still a quiet mountain town hidden from most of the world. Already a professional skier, a guitarist in a rock band, and a published poet at 20, Easley became a painter almost by happenstance. Struck by the beauty of illuminated manuscripts in the famed Folgers Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., Easley decided to apply the illumination technique to one of his poems. It turned out to be a work of art that was eagerly purchased by an admirer, leading Easley to make his first painting.

It wasn’t long before Easley’s art began to get noticed. He settled in England in 1980, where he refined his skills as a classical realist, specializing in miniature paintings, portraits, manuscript illuminations and heraldry. He became the first foreigner to be inducted as a full member of the Royal Miniature Society. Easley later moved to Venice, where he expanded his use of glazed oil techniques to paint large-scale architectural landscapes, floral still life and nudes. While in Venice, he developed a distinctive blend of pencil, chalk and watercolor applications that transformed simple pencil sketches into multi-layered works of art. While these were standalone pieces, he also used them as studies for large oil commissions, which came to him from Europe and North America.

A visit to India, a country with a rich history and deep philosophical traditions, made Easley feel he had come home – and for the next decade it became home. India’s rich perspectives on multidimensional reality led Easley to immerse himself in dimensional realism, surrealism and allegorical works. 

After two decades in Europe and Asia, Easley returned to the United States and has been back ever since, which is lucky for us. He has long held that humankind is multi-dimensional, a stance that dovetails nicely with our philosophy here at the Epicurean. That awareness is reflected in his paintings that show an ongoing quest of creative experiment and expression. “Once we define things, we stop asking questions,” Easley says. Without asking questions, there’s no pursuit of meaning, no push for a higher calling. Welcome to the Hudson Valley Wine & Food Fest, Thomas. A man after our own hearts.


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