Man behind the brush

"Venice Light" 30" x 60", watercolor on canvas

     There is much to be said for knowing what you want out of life, creating a plan and sticking with your ultimate dream; few actually do. Pursuing your genuine happiness usually gets placed on a back burner as a family comes along, bills have to be paid and the years just sail by. Let’s meet one man who decided that being an artist was the only thing in life that he was going to be and has not wandered from his passion while plugging through life’s roadblocks, one boulder at a time. When I sat down and talked with Tom Lynch, listening to the obstacles he had faced, choosing the life of an artist ever since his childhood, I felt very inadequate. Mind you, Tom does not have one intimidating bone in his body, but showing us that there is a path to achieving what you want and working very hard to get there, makes Tom one of the greatest motivators and mentors that we have today.

     As the author of seven books, Tom also has hosted several award-winning PBS TV Art Series. Additionally, he is a main spokesperson for many of the major companies in association with the National Art Materials Trade Association; is represented in many leading museums and art galleries; and is currently well known for his featured role at Art Academy Live, an international on-line education source, started in 2007 and growing in leaps and bounds.

     A patient individual who discovered teaching quite by accident, Tom teaches seminars on watercolor and how to find your own niche in painting. He began this career thirty-five years ago when, yes, he had to pay the bills and found the students fell in love with his techniques and motivational mannerisms. You can’t help but feel the excitement of life when you are around Tom. He credits his ability of a service- oriented style and the forming of relationships to his first position in commercial graphic arts after his graduation from the American Academy of Art in Chicago, Illinois. But I think the personality was already there.

     The son of a railroad worker, there had been no artists that Tom could think of in his family and when he turned down scholarships in gymnastics and tennis to the several universities; his parents thought he was making a big mistake. “You just didn’t turn down a free ride to a college in the 60s. I did finally go to the University of Illinois, but it only lasted a year,” said Tom.

     He just did not want a career in sports even though he still stays active in gymnastics and running. After all, his wife has a gym where two of his children also work. He had to work his way through the American Academy of Art in Chicago by painting landscapes, cityscapes and illustrations. It was also during his younger years that Tom took his teaching on the road. A small resort in Lac du Flambeau, Wisconsin was looking for someone to stir up some business and they thought that housing seminar attendees was a good angle. Thirty-one years later, not only is Tom still holding seminars at Dillman’s Bay Resort, but also his children and grandchildren are carrying on the tradition of the once a year vacation.

     I asked Lynch if his work ever interfered with family since he seemed to be on the road so much. He rattled off a precise schedule of how many days he was gone, how many days he was home and why it worked so perfectly. “I don’t know many Dads that can go to a school play in the middle of the week at 2:00 pm, but I was there,” Tom proclaimed, and proud of his ability to balance and spend time with kids, Tami, Traci, Michael and Alysha.

     He and wife, Linda, now manage the same balancing act with six grandsons and two granddaughters. His family is always foremost in his thoughts as he shows when including his wife’s name in every painting he has ever done. “It might be in a tree branch or along the side of a building but it’s always there.”

"Big Catch" 14" x 19", watercolor on paper

    “Never stop learning,” says Tom. “I am always the first one to a class and the last one to leave, even now. If I want to know something, I will drive across the country to find out.” And he has. John Pike, Ed Whitney and Robert E. Wood are examples of artists that Tom just had to learn from. His insatiable eagerness to learn was obvious to the Canadians, when 20 years ago, he was honored as the first American selected for Honorary Membership in the Canadian Watercolor Society. Just completing a workshop in Canada, Tom describes Canadian students as some of the best in North America. “They are so eager to learn, so grateful.” He also makes one trip a year overseas to teach European students.

     Tom Lynch’s art shows can be found in the Chicago area where he has made a recognizable name for himself and his work, many of which are limited editions. He also presents shows in Sedona, Arizona where he has a second home and travels the west coast He doesn’t stray from his watercolor media but just recently, has begun the challenge of painting on a larger canvas, creating more than one focal point. “I create milestones that I want to meet and when they are met, I create a new one,” says Lynch. And milestones, they are. Some examples; each book that was written, being honored in the American Embassy in France with a one-man exhibition, making the drastic change from paper to canvas, starring in a PBS series on watercolor, and the list just goes on and on.

     “You go that extra mile for customers,” when asked what his success was based on. “Offer to re-frame a painting to enhance its look, build your shows as an experience around the room, and never stop marketing.” Tom’s list of future plans include a program on Art Academy Live for home schooling, a possible new series on PBS, an upcoming show in Chicago featuring cafes from around the world, and his release of 30×72 watercolors on canvas.

     If you ever have the opportunity to attend one of Tom Lynch’s workshops, you will find an experience unmatched by any other. Visit his website for a list of dates and cities at You can also find more information on Art Academy Live and broadcast dates. Motivational leaders and great mentors in today’s world are very hard to find so don’t let this one pass you by.

By Kate Garton

First published; Vol 20, No 3, 2008-09 Fall/Winter Art-to-Art Palette Journal print

Cover “Jake” by Texas artist Herb Reed –

Published by on May 2013. Filed under Archives, Art-to-Art Palette Journal, Cover Section. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments are closed