We had the good fortune of connecting with M. Tobias Hall and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi M. Tobias, how do you think about risk?
I think that (at least a little bit of) risk is necessary for us to keep growing. The risks that challenge our current situation with the potential for personal betterment are usually ones worth taking. The discomfort felt in the face of those risks usually has to do with a fear of falling short of a particular goal. If one fails, the experience will usually provide the answers to success (as long as there is the will to try again…and again). It’s like walking: step, fall, catch, and Repeat. That’s a formula for progress.
The creative process gives form to our imagination. The reality of that experience usually falls short of the ideal we imagined. In that sense, every painting – let alone every brush stroke – can feel like a risk. It’s important not to fixate on the risks, but to keep aiming for higher and higher peaks.
Some might consider a career as a painter to be a bit risky, but I find it to be a profoundly nourishing path to be on – that, in and of itself, outweighs any risk. That being said, I’m fortunate enough to be able to reinforce my creative pursuit by teaching painting and drawing.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
The creative process is always in flux. As an artist, I am always trying to expand and grow. That might be with the poetry of the language, and/or with the scope of the projects I take on. I feel that I’m only beginning to find my stride as a painter – It has taken me a number of years to achieve a state of confidence and playfulness in my work.
My practice is grounded by a perceptual exploration of light, form and time. The process (the time element) forges the imagination and the natural world into one. It’s a pursuit that is unrepeatable and infinitely interesting to me. I can only hope that the joy I get from the experience is communicated to others through the finished, or fragmented work.
It’s been a long road to this point – sixteen years and I feel like I’m only getting started. Slow and steady wins the race, as they say.
There have been challenges – most prominently, me. I’m quite competitive with myself and have always had very high expectations. That temperament can certainly be a double edged sword. The self critic in me can be quite punishing, but we’re figuring out how to be better allies. Patience and compassion for myself is the key to balancing that relationship.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Santa Fe is beautiful place to live. There are so many places to hike and explore. Plein air painting is one of my favorite activities, and a great way to sink in to the landscape and spend time with friends.
It’s a great art town. There are numerous galleries, artists and studios to visit.
The food is surprisingly good too – plenty of options.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
It all began with my parents and my grandparents who encouraged me to draw and create as a child. I used to love watching my dad draw – to me, it seemed incredible that he could draw anything. I wanted to be able to do that. To this day I still have their support.
I had some wonderful teachers in high school. At that particularly self conscious phase in my life, the positive reinforcement I received from Mrs. Surtz and Mr. Scott catapulted my artistic confidence.
Shortly after I graduated from college, young woman at a figure drawing group shared Anthony Ryder’s book “The Artist’s Complete Guide to Figure Drawing” with me. That was a pivotal moment. After buying his book, I moved down to Santa Fe, New Mexico to learn how to paint with Tony. Sixteen years later, I consider him to be a dear mentor and friend.
Tim Stotz and Michelle Tully of Studio Escalier have also been incredible teachers and mentors for me. Aside from the education I received from them, they’ve helped to shape and support my teaching career.
At the New York Academy of Art I was fortunate to have yet another teacher and mentor in Michael Grimaldi as my thesis advisor.
Tony, Tim, Michelle and Michael have set such a high bar for me as an artist and as a teacher. I have so much gratitude for them (and also, for that young woman who showed me Tony’s book)
Of course, my friends and peers – both in and out of the artistic community – mean a great deal to me. They, along with my fiancé Jillian, inspire, challenge and encourage me.
Facebook: M Tobias Hall