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Monday, March 21, 2016

Yes, we love our crypto-artists, and here’s another of our favorites. Tom Finley, from the UK, tries to depict his tall, hairy subjects with a real heart and soul. Sometimes to the dismay of some onlookers, as you’ll read about in this interview. But we love his work, and hope he’ll keep on doing it just the way he does. Intuitively…and with class.

Dorraine: When did you first become interested in pursuing art? 

Thomas: As the family legend goes according to my late Mother, I started drawing when I was 3 years old and would sit and copy my Mother do her art as she was a very accomplished water colorist. I learned a lot from her throughout my childhood. When I moved on to High School and I had a really great art teacher who really encouraged me to do better at my work. I have always done my art for personal enjoyment mainly but I have sold art throughout my adult life but I prefer giving it away as it is more meaningful experience for me and the person receiving it. So, in answer to your question 1963. I always knew I would be an artist deep down.

Dorraine: Have you always lived in UK? And are there other places you lived or traveled that have influenced your art?

Thomas: Good question? I've lived all over the U.S.A. as a little boy my parents were in the U.S. Navy and we lived in Georgia, Virginia, California to name a few places. I grew up in Minnesota after my after retired from the service and I lived there a large part of my life, first on a farm then in a small rural town of Spring Valley. I used to love painting the wildlife of my home state and did that for several years and later found a love for historic old barns and I used to drive around looking for them to draw and paint them. I am still new to the United Kingdom. I resettled here in 2004 when I married my wife Nicola. The British Isles are the most beautiful shade of green I have ever seen and there are many, many places here that have influenced my art. For example, our trips to Loch Ness and all the many ancient sites like Stonehenge. I highly recommend a trip to the U.K. It is well worth it.

Dorraine: How did you turn to sasquatch art?

Thomas: I became interested in the field of cryptozoology at the age of 8. In 1968, I attended the Olmsted County Fair with my family on a day out in August of that year. On the carnival midway, my older brother, Donald, and I saw a very bizarre sideshow that claimed to have a frozen prehistoric man in ice. We paid the 25 cents to go see it and it really changed my life forever after seeing it. I did not know what a Bigfoot was back then and did not know about Bigfoot until the early 1970's. Seeing the iceman was a very life changing moment for me, and it continues to shape my life even now. 

Dorraine: Have you had a bigfoot encounter of your own?

Thomas: I can now say YES! Last spring I attended the Ohio Bigfoot Conference at Salt Fork State Park. After the conference I went on a Bigfoot trip with my friend Terry Thomas from Kentucky. We went to several Bigfoot hot spots in the State and in Tennessee with our host Joe and his sons. At two locations we had whoops and other calls around us in broad daylight and loud tree breaks. At the hot spot in Kentucky we had mock coyote calls and tree breaks and a bizarre fog that encircled us as the sun was sitting, we packed up our casting equipment and made a hasty retreat back to ice coffee and the main road after that. It was very exciting.

Dorraine: In your artwork, how do you attempt to depict the face of a creature considered by many to be mythical?  Where does your prototype come from?

Thomas: When I sit down to paint or draw a forest person, I have many images in my mind of what they might look like. I also will go into my primate references and use them for body shape and mannerisms. The faces and eyes are the hardest as I like to express emotion and the presence of a soul in all my Bigfoot. When I create a new Bigfoot I always, always make them unique and not ferocious or monstrous as many people always ask me to paint them that way. If you want a monster, go to someone that draws monsters. If you want a realistic rendition of an unknown primate, that is what you'll get. I think my best compliment came from an angry guy who sent me a message one night on Facebook. He exclaimed, typing in capital letters, "Why don't you make your Bigfoot more bloody and mean?" - "Your art is like looking at a copy of National Geographic!" You can't please everyone.

Dorraine: What keeps you inspired to do crypto-art? 

Thomas: I have lived with health challenges in my life for several years now. I had a long talk with myself in 1999, and I said I was only going to do art or projects that had a meaning for me or that I enjoyed. So, I dusted off my old scrapbooks from my parent’s attic and decided to get back into cryptozoology and the unexplained once again. First thing I did was create a new collection of stories and reports in my compendium project which is called Archive:X. This project was started as a follow up to the older scrapbooks I started in my school years. They contained newspaper clippings on all sorts of phenomena ranging from Bigfoot to the Loch Ness Monster to UFO's and mermaid sightings off the coast of Australia. The compendium project in its current format contains hand written personal accounts by the witness of the event as well as maps and sketches of their experiences. It has taken up a lot of my time and it is a personal joy to research these cases and write and get to know these people all around the world. My personal mission in this project continues and I hope to start my 2016 volume soon. My wife Nicola as called it "My big book of weird". Pardon the mess in my office if you ever come to visit.

Dorraine: Do you have any other favorite subjects besides cryptids?

Thomas: I enjoy military history, dinosaurs, I have a fascination with the Woolly Mammoth and the research being done in the recovery of ancient specimens being found all over Siberia. I enjoy animation and special effects in the motion picture industry. When I was youngster, I always dreamed of working in cartooning field or making movie monsters. I collect movie props and have a large celebrity autograph collection. I dabble in many interests. 

Dorraine: Have you developed any theories or philosophies about Bigfoot in the UK? What it may or may not be? Whether it exists at all?

Thomas: One of the really interesting things about living in the UK is its history. The dates on places here are older then anything in the USA. If you search hard you will find many places with references to the British Wildman, mainly in carvings in places of worship. There are many claims that the hairy wild man still is alive in the UK. This I think is not the case as the density of the population and known forests are so small there would not be anywhere for these creatures to live, let alone in a secretive way. I have conducted field research at a known forested site operated by the water board. Here Bigfoot type creatures have been observed and strange wood structures found. Although once again this is just a fleeting observation as the reports are so few. Although I will not sour anyone’s idea on the existence of these beings. I will only say I will let you be the judge and do your own research. 

Dorraine: Is there somewhere people can see a gallery of your work? Do you have a website or blog?

Thomas: I am at this time having a website in the making and you will be able to view all my art and purchase it soon. I have a gallery on the SASQUATCH WATCH CANADA website. And you are welcome to go there and view all my paintings. And you can view and follow my art on Facebook by going to THOMAS FINLEY ART, or by following me, Thomas Finley, on Facebook.

Dorraine: What is your favorite medium for your art?

Thomas: My favorite medium you will laugh at but it is a simple ball point pen.

Dorraine: What do you like to do outside of art? 

Thomas: I enjoy going to the movies with my wife. Watching the night sky. Spending time with my Grandchildren. Being with my friends at the Bigfoot Conference. Our pets, listening to music and just having a laugh.

Dorraine: What do you do for a living? And does that have any correlation with or influence on the way you pursue your art?

Thomas: I work part time for an international fraternal society here in the UK. Their roots are considered ancient and go back to 1810. I have an interest in its history and have met many interesting people while serving in my duties. My art is strictly my night job, more or less. I am also starting my first children's book soon. 

Dorraine: Is there anything else you'd like to add?

Thomas: If you have ever had anything strange happen to you please get in contact with me as I would love to include you in my compendium project. My email is: capteasycheese@gmail.com please mention the ARCHIVE X PROJECT. 

This Post By TCC Team Member Dorraine Fisher. Dorraine is a Professional Writer, photographer, a nature, wildlife and Bigfoot enthusiast who has written for many magazines. Dorraine conducts research, special interviews and more for The Crypto Crew. Get Dorraine's book The Book Of Blackthorne!

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