Thomas Paquette paints full-time and lives with his artist wife Ellen near the wilds of the Allegheny National Forest outside Warren, Pennsylvania. One of eleven children, he completed his formal art education with a Master of Fine Arts degree in Painting on a full graduate fellowship from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville in 1988, directly after earning his BFA degree in Painting at Bemidji State University in 1985, graduating summa cum laude.
Thomas was then awarded a CAVA Residency-Fellowship for three winters in Miami from the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts from 1989-91. Following that, he moved to Maine to paint the wilder lands there, and worked on some large public commissions listed below. In 2001 he relocated to the Victorian Allegheny River town of Warren, Pennsylvania, after marrying his artist wife Ellen.
Thomas draws inspiration from the natural world immediately surrounding him in the Allegheny National Forest, and just as frequently from more distant excursions. Hardly considering himself a plein air artist, he paints outdoors on-site only in preliminary stages. Even a watercolor begun outdoors is only finished after some reconsideration in his studio.
Among other public and private commissions that he was awarded are four seven-foot-high canvases for the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis; a thirty-two-foot long canvas for Central Lakes College in Minnesota; an eleven-foot painting for the State Office Building in St. Paul; and paintings for the collection of the opulent Queen Mary 2 ocean liner.
Thomas was an artist in residence at several institutions, including the American Academy in Rome, the Millay Colony, McNamara Foundation, USM Aegean Arts and Cultural Exchange, and three National Parks. He presented lectures around Greece when his paintings were installed at the U.S. embassy in Athens in 2006, and at other times gave talks at the University of Wales in Cardiff, and at Plymouth College in Exeter, England, as well as a few colleges in the U.S.
The book Thomas Paquette: Gouaches was published in 2007 to accompany a traveling museum exhibition of his gouache paintings. More recently, On Nature's Terms: Paintings by Thomas Paquette commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, a solo exhibition inspired by wilderness areas all around the country, traveled throughout 2014 and 2015 to museums in California, Indiana and New York. A 40-page catalogue was produced for this show.
--- To read an interview about the spirit of my work, please see Mary Soliwoda's interview with me. -- T.P.