Tom Haukaas is a self-taught artist from Nelson who has shown his work since 2013 in solo and group exhibitions. His work appears in private and public collections in western Canada.
His pieces are all landscapes done in acrylic paint on stretched canvas — his main inspiration for his work is nature.
“I do all-natural scenes. I grew up outside of Nelson, ten miles north, near Kokanee Creek Park, so I spent much of my adolescence outdoors in nature. The west arm has nice lakes and creeks. It’s picturesque,” says Haukaas.
He sells his work privately, as in a gallery or an agent does not represent him. He is thrilled to have his work up around Nelson and has successfully sold many paintings. He occasionally does commission work.
“I sell through venues in Nelson and online. My art is at the Nelson District Chamber of Commerce, Visitor’s Centre, Relish Bistro, Kootenay Coop Bakery Café, Want Clothing Company, and Grand Pointe Golf Club. I’ve been several years with these venues.”
Being part of the artist community in Nelson has been a positive experience for Tom.
He explains: "I feel fortunate to have grown up in Nelson, where the arts are generally encouraged. The broader artist community in Nelson is supportive. I appreciate all of the businesses in the area that showcase and promote local artists. I think it's mutually beneficial and gives us ‘struggling’ artists good exposure. There are many artists in Nelson doing all kinds of stuff; you can count on seeing something new and interesting every time you go out. It is exciting as an artist here."
Haukaas has been painting since his early 20s. The only art training he had was art classes in high school. Otherwise, he is entirely self-taught.
“I had a natural aptitude for drawing that I carried on as a hobby into adulthood. I got a lot of feedback from it. I enjoyed the process. Developing, not being very good at something at first, then getting better. It was all very encouraging, exciting, engaging. It went from there,” says Haukaas.
For a look at the work of Tom Haukaas, check out the Nelson District Chamber of Commerce, Visitor’s Centre, Relish Bistro, Kootenay Coop Bakery Café, Want Clothing Company, and Grand Pointe Golf Club. — Submitted photo
The artist’s process for creating one of his landscapes involves a lot of wandering in the forest, for starters.
“I’m out in the woods a lot. I take photos. I take the photos home, put them on the computer, crop them, photoshop collage them into something like a sketch. I envision what that would look like as a painting composition, transfer that to a canvas, rework it with all kinds of layers and different techniques and mediums to come up with something that’s usually a little unexpected. It changes quite a bit. I rework the composition, and keep an open mind about it, without too many expectations about mistakes and changes,” Haukaas explains.
Like many artists trying to make a go of it, Haukaas’s art is not fully sustaining him.
“I have a day job. I have a career in forestry. It’s primarily a field job, a physical job. But it’s nice to be out in the woods.”
Haukaas stays very busy with work and family.
“I have a 5-year-old boy. He is somewhat into art. We paint a little bit. I’m a very proud father,” he says.
For now, Haukaas works out of his basement, and he is grateful to have the space for his art.
“I have an office/studio, which is the dank old basement of our house,” Haukaas laughs. “The corner of the basement with spiders. A little natural light, moving up in the world, maybe in the future, but this works for now. At least I have a space.”
He dreams of one day supporting himself and his family through his art but is quite happy at this time to be working full time in the forestry sector.
“Artistically, I have hopes and dreams. I want to continue practicing art. It’s hard to find that balance between family and work. I want to build it into a primary career at some point. I like my artistic freedom and being able to do what I love, to continue to do that. To continue showing around Nelson or elsewhere and getting feedback from the public.”
To check out his work, visit his website: http://tomhaukaas.com/ or his Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/557902011051342.