Tom Hempel | Watercolor Artist

Monday, October 27, 2014-Monday, December 15, 2014

Opening Reception:
Sunday, October 26, 2014 | 1-3pm

Tom Hempel is one of the Quad Cities area’s most talented and creative watercolor artists. Tom has completed over 1,000 paintings depicting homes – new and old – schools, universities, public and private office buildings and churches. His work is widely distributed both in and outside the Quad Cities. Though well known for the work he has done to date, Tom has recently begun to expand his creative horizons by painting what he “sees” with his eyes and heart and not so much from photos he has taken. He is doing more “whimsical’ work, combining several different scenes to make a new scene. As a result, he has launched a new era of creativity.

Add to his list of accomplishments a calendar underwritten by the City of Davenport Parks and Recreation Department. This calendar contains paintings of places and buildings in his beloved Quad Cities. Tom’s paintings have been featured in local newspapers on both sides of the river and recently has had over forty of his paintings displayed in an exhibition at a new business in LeClaire which received high critical praise and led to several paintings being sold.

Tom was born in Chicago but grew up in Bettendorf – in second grade his art interest was developed. He attended both public and private schools but it was in the 7th grade that he received his inspiration. He took an advanced art class at Bettendorf High School encouraged by his art teacher, Don Posten. And it was here with Don that Tom developed his interest in the medium of watercolors. He moved directly into advanced art classes through high school where he continued to be coached and encouraged by Mr. Posten after graduation. Though he received help and support, Tom was largely self taught during these early years of his career.

Tom was drafted into the Army in 1966 and served two years, one in Vietnam. After his return in 1968 he continued his art training at Palmer Junior College in 1969 – 1970. In 1975 he married Marti Carstensen and it was Marti who rekindled his love of watercolors and asked him to paint a picture for her. Since they both shared a love and admiration of the old buildings in East Davenport Village, he painted a watercolor of Boyler’s Iron Works which was the first painting Tom sold. The rest is history.

Tom’s artistic role models are Paul Norton, a local artist, and John Pike of New York. He continues to evolve in his art and his latest works are more vibrant and imaginative. I have enjoyed watching Tom enter into this new chapter in his painting career and look forward to more creative works.

Tom and Marti currently live in Davenport and enjoy spending time with their daughters and sons-in- law and grandchildren. Tom can be contacted at his home at 563-355-8410. Reproductions of his art work are sold through several public and private outlets in the Quad Cities and regional sales outlets.

Artist Statement

I guess this is the time now, when I’m supposed to say why I love to paint in watercolors:
I’ll have to start in Kindergarten…I can remember like it was yesterday. I was standing at my easel, and the teacher told me to paint something. So, I painted a two story red house with a tall chimney, a door and one window. Next, the large tree trunk and a big round ball of leaves at the top. Then I painted a large yellow sun in the corner with yellow rays beaming down. I think we all did that!!
I am just an old fashioned watercolor artist who has been blessed to be able to sell my paintings. The greatest joy is that I am having more fun now than ever before.

I wish I could say that my artwork has paid the bills and put food on our table, but I also retired after 30 years of working for J.I. Case in Bettendorf and Case-IH in E. Moline.

Now, please join me on a trip through my ever changing artistic career.
First things first, simple instructions on how to get started. I hope I can help with technical details to all the “wannabe” painters out there.
I began doing my paintings by sitting at the location and painting “what I saw”. I remember one occasion while sitting in a driveway sketching a house and the husband came home and wanted to know why I was watching his house, he was NOT happy…. Another time one of the neighbors called the police and they came up to me with guns drawn wanting to know just what I was doing……As time passed, I decided it was better to paint from a photograph. I could stop time at the exact moment when all the right elements are there.

As you will see, I am moving away from the “realistic” painting where my roots began. I always said “I can only paint what I see!” Now I am finding my true “artistic” talents. I am stepping outside the box of “realism” to a new world which I am still exploring. I find myself excited, which results in all night painting sessions. I have found that I can put elements of several photographs into one painting, what a rush!! Whoever said getting older meant you had to quit learning!

My paintings are on display at the following locations:
Riefe’s Restaurant Locust St. Davenport
Village Inn State Street,
Applebee’s Elmore Ave, Bettendorf
Rudy’s Taco East Village Davenport
Waterfront Deli State St. Bettendorf
Blue Cat Brew Pub, Rock Island
The Faithful Pilot LeClaire
Modern Woodman Park gift shop
Figgie Museum gift shop Davenport
Johnnies Steak House, Moline
Bier Stube Davenport
Golicks Meat Market Davenport
Circa 21 Playhouse, Rock Island
Jim’s Rib’s E. Moline
Iowa Machine Shed Davenport
IH Miss. Valley CU Corp Headquarters
Gonzo’s Market St. Davenport