Episode 10: Filling your heart and soul! with Tom Fuller

About This Episode

Tom Fuller is a Western artist, and his lifestyle fills his soul. What he shares with the world through a paintbrush comes from his inner passion. “I want to bring my paintings into your home and have you feel the picture's character and soul!"

Transcript

Transcript for this weeks message

Shane Jacob

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to The Horsemanship Journey Podcast. If you're interested in working in the horse industry, if you're interested in personal development, you're at the right place. This podcast features people who work in the horse industry sharing their stories and wisdom around working with horses as a career. I'm Shane Jacob, your host, and today we're proud to present Tom Fuller. Tom is a Western artist, The West is linked in his DNA and the Western lifestyle fills his soul. What he shares with the world through a paintbrush on canvas is captured realism that comes from an inner passion. Every Tom Fuller original is an inspired piece of preserving the American Western culture. Tom's work has been showcased at national and international exhibitions. It's appeared on several issues of Western Art Collector magazines where he was honored with the Editor's Choice Award. He describes his work as his heart and soul. Tom, thank you so much for taking your time to be with us today.

 

Tom Fuller

Thank you, sir.

Shane Jacob

So, it's kind of exciting to hear that somebody whose work is their heart and soul because so many people, they don't have that in their lives. So, there's a lot of people that, you know, they want to follow their dreams of doing what fills their heart and their soul, but I guess just tell us a little bit about what that's like doing what fills your heart and soul and where it all began for you and how you got to be where you're at.

Tom Fuller

Well, I guess I better start from the beginning. I guess that's a good starting place. And it all started in Wichita, Kansas, where I was born. I was just born a cowboy, and I was born an artist. I started drawing and painting when I was about eight years old. And I don't know why, but I just did. I saved up my allowance and I have always drawn and painted horses. And I think that they've always had connections with people and connections with their surroundings. And it was very much, I was interested in that. And I would watch them constantly and watch their interactions with other horses and people.

Shane Jacob

Right on. So how long have you been drawing? Well, I mean drawing for a living. Did you have other work? Tell us about that.

Tom Fuller

Well, I had other work, I always kept my work pretty much silent. Growing up, I kind of hid in my parents' home upstairs and didn't comedown for the holidays. I was up there drawing and painting horses. I spent many, many Thanksgivings and Christmases up there and had to be called down. It was just something I did and I continued that through my adult life. And fortunately or unfortunately, I didn't listen to what was coming at me, was in my heart, my calling. And my father was a police chief and I decided to go into policing. I admired my father and I didn't know anything about the art world.

So, I went into law enforcement. I became ultimately a criminologist. I went to three colleges, and I wound up specializing in the forensic sciences in death and injury investigation. And that's, you know all those years that I spent doing that, I spent...  always a place that I would find to hide and paint no matter where I was. And finally, during my last few years in law enforcement and criminology, I was able to find use for what I did for other people.

 

Shane Jacob

So, tell us a little bit about how you used your drawing in forensics and in police work.

 

Tom Fuller

Well, it became very interesting. First of all, in policing, I was called to do a composite sketch. It was a little girl that was abducted. And they were, of course, they didn't have any identification. I sat with this little girl, and we came up with a sketch. And I was very successful with that. Then I went to work with the medical examiner in the forensic sciences,  

I was able to look at things and became very curious because I realized what I was looking at was not exactly what I was looking at. There were other parts in that, that if I studied them, I could figure out what different dimensions were, what may have caused that injury, and when it was, when that person was injured. So I began using my art and my senses into looking at different patterns of these injuries. And ultimately it became areal service thing for me that I could do for other people. They brought children that were abused.

And I worked on some things that actually probably the cases would have went a different way had I not looked into them. And it became an eye-opening experience with my art. I began not just looking, but seeing more in people and in horses and in things that actually I didn't pay attention to before. But one thing I learned to do is they use the term listening. In English language there's a bunch of different meanings for terms, but I developed the term listening because I listened to what was there. I didn't have a judgment about it. I listened to what injuries, what kind of abrasions or whatever, I listened to what was there and I had no forethoughts about what that could be until I actually paid attention and studied it.

Shane Jacob

Okay, interesting. You've said a few times, a couple of times I've heard you say in this conversation that you were hiding and drawing. And so, I was wondering if you'd just back up just a little bit and tell us about this hiding and drawing and how you did in school and when you became to where you weren't hiding and drawing.

Tom Fuller

Okay, I started, when I started painting and drawing it was my own personal thing. I saved my allowance, went to the store. bought some oil paints and canvas, and I sat down started painting. And it became, it was just very personal. And as life progressed I kept it that way. I was a little bit bashful and shy about it and I didn't bring forth what I knew or what I had. Actually, I was afraid of adverse opinions and I didn't know, I didn't study art. I didn't go to art school. I didn't know anything about that. I just did what I did and so throughout all of this it just began to emerge a few years ago. And that's pretty much how it became making a living.

I stumbled into this. I was invited to Beach Fork Ranch in Weatherford, Texas. I met with the owner and I received a huge compliment from Kelly Crum, the owner. I from that point, I was invited to go to his ranch in New Mexico. I met another man, Zane Keene, from New Mexico, he was a big rancher there. And, I didn't know how interested they were. They never said anything. But when I got back from that trip, a lot of my paintings, Mr. Keene bought and he continues, he's continued to commission work for me for a long time.

I'm very honored to do that for him. I, and as things progressed, I, you know, I wound up, I entered a, or somebody entered a national show, Oil Painters of America. And somehow I didn't know how my painting got accepted into this show. It's what they call the juried show, which means it's competition. It's, you know, people watch, they assess these things and then you're either accepted or you're not. And I didn't know how that happened. And the following year, I thought, well, I doubt lightning strikes twice in the same place. So I just did it again, and that one got accepted. And I wound up in Texas a lot.

Love that place. I love the Southwest period. And I, as I would go back and forth, I stumbled into a gallery at the Stockyards in Fort Worth. It's Adobe Gallery. And I was on the phone with the curator from Southwest Gallery in Dallas. I happened to mention his name and the owner of the gallery, he came out of his office, and, you know, how do you know this man? And I said, well, they're hanging one of my paintings at Beach Fork Ranch. And he asked to see my work. I just mentioned, go to tomfollerfineart.com. And he did, he came out and his comment was, where have you been? Which is very complimentary and they continue to represent me now. I've just been, the things that have happened in my work, I've been fortunate, it's just the way my life has gone and the life I've always wanted to live is with horses in the American West.

Shane Jacob

Was there a point, you said you said that you were concerned about what people might think and how they might react to it or you didn't know really know how good it was or you wasn't weren't sure why you got accepted. Was there was there a point where after a period of time and after enough response or was there a time where it kind of turned the corner where you just like you knew that what you had was a gift, an exceptional gift?

Tom Fuller

Thank you. Yes, sir. I there was a time that I was approached by a magazine editor, and she told me, she says I can see you in your work. Which is a very nice compliment, but as time went on I realized that no man is an island. And one of my clients contacted the ex-spouse of another famous artist and she's my rep now, or representative, and she helps me along the way. I have people that do you know, I could never do this alone. And I don't think anybody can do anything alone. It's only my thoughts, it's not the evaluation and ideas from other people that I can ponder and get and draw some conclusions from.

Shane Jacob

So, yeah, any other mentors or people that you've modeled yourself after or people that have kind of helped you along the way or helped you make the transition into doing what you love for a career?

Tom Fuller

Yes sir. Kelly Crum, Beach Fork Ranch, Zane Keeney and his brother Travis. Zane is a corporate rancher, he owns ZNT Cattle Company and his brother Travis owns a traditional ranch in New Mexico. It's really, really nice to go to. I also have to give a lot of credit to Grace Snydo. She's always there for me. I call her, ask her some advice. A lady by the name of Sherry Okonski, another lady by the name of Stephanie Deegan. These are people that I've sought to help me with various projects that I don't know anything about.

And for instance, marketing. Ms. Deegan is a great marketer. She was recommended and she's offered to help me. So I could not do all of this alone. I received some help from Jan and Steve Smith out of Sweetwater, Texas. They hosted and started Sweetwater an art exhibition of my work for part of their annual art show. I was very honored. I would have never thought my work would have gone that far, but Mr. and Mrs. Smith and many people from the community were very supportive. And all of these things combined were messages. And I thought, I sat back and I looked at it and I'm very honored but humble. What am I really getting from this? And the best thing I ever got, what I think is the fact that people get something or can get something from my work. Not everybody, you know, nobody's perfect, so not everybody likes it, but people get, if I can, my work can do something for somebody, that's what makes me happy. And it's been, these people have been big push in my career.

Shane Jacob

Right on, what we see a lot and a lot of us have experienced is we get going after our dream and what lights are so on fire and then we hit a couple of things and I mean it's pretty hard and we bow out when we hit something that's pretty deep and we kind of go back to a lot of times we can kind of get thrown off course. And just wondered if you had any thoughts on any of the setbacks or challenges that you've had.

Tom Fuller

Yes sir, I do. Cause I've had them too. I had two major storms hit me, my life, about eight years ago. One personal, one health. And I was really, really knocked down. But what I had was my art and myself. And that's when I learned that was my time to be myself  and do what I was put here to do. And that's paint horses in the American West. But I didn't look back. I put one foot in front of the other and that's some great advice I got from my father. Don't look back. If you want to do it, do it. If it's in your heart and it's in your soul and you were born to do it, there's no obstacles. There's nothing that can beat you. There may be some curves in the roadway and some rain to come along, but that's a learning process.

And the other thing I've always told people is that failing and giving up, well giving up first of all is something that you should never do if it's in your heart. Failing at something is a learning opportunity and if it gets you down, you know, if you learn from your failures, if you learn from your mistakes, that's how I've always told people, my students etc. to look at those things. And I told them, you know I always promoted that inside the classroom is where you can make mistakes. You know, as a trainer, that's where you can make mistakes because somebody's there to help you through it.

And the other thing that I learned along the way, and I always promoted, is that there are no stupid questions. Everybody has a question about something and if they do, they should ask because people learn in different ways. People, they, you know, they, their opinions or their, the way they look at something may be completely different than what's, what's presented. But if they're open to something and they want to listen, you know, it's, goes back to really empathetic listening to people. Sometimes what they say isn’t what they mean, and did you really hear what they were saying? And  actually listening to someone and understanding, and if you don't understand, ask them. I think that is one of the most critical things anybody can do in any educational situation.

Shane Jacob

Right on. Very good. Tom, two questions. What does the day in the life look like now at this stage you're at? How do you go about your week? Just what's like a snapshot of that? And then also, what does the future look like for Tom Fuller?

Tom Fuller

Well, my day is very interesting. I spend at least eight hours in the studio. And that involves, kind of an ongoing problem solving project. It's color, there's no one color in my art that comes directly from a tube. It's a constant mixing and blending, and that's a big challenge. The other part is what you know, artists, know, they always, had these art terms, and I kind of gave up on that. It doesn't, you know, they really didn't mean anything anymore to me. What it meant was, what I've evolved is this is what I do, and that's just in my heart. It just, that's what I was born to do.

 

And there are times during the day where, you know, I'll wait to go to bed and then I'll get up, sometimes at two, 2.30 in the morning, and I'll think about something that I either didn't get just right or I forgot or something, and I'm up at 2.30, 3.30, four o'clock, or whatever it is to fix that, because it's in me and it's something that I have to do. My days are luckily for me consumed with painting horses in the American West. I'm very fortunate for that, and I'm thankful that that's what I was put here to do.

 

Shane Jacob

Well, I think the world's thankful that you made the decision to follow your heart, follow your dreams, follow to recognize what you're designed to do, to develop the gifts that you were giving. And so that you could make your mark. And so that all of us could benefit from your gifts. So I think it's a super excellent story. Tom, what would you like to leave us with today on The Horsemanship Journey? Last thoughts?

Tom Fuller

Yes, well there's a couple of things. I figured, you know, I learned that you have to study. You have to study just, and through watching, through listening, looking at rhythm. Because a lot of, you know, what people call different things in art world, which I didn't go to art school, so I couldn’t know but I do know art school, that I think to make a good painting has to have rhythm. And I think to train people that work with horses and are in that any kind of environment like that, you have to listen.

And I think a good, a good picture or a good performance, there's rhythm to it. And you can tell in these horses that ones have been trained for that. Ones have, you can tell by looking at them. You can, you know, you can see that these are highly trained horses and highly trained people who train them and people who love their horses. And my objective always has been and always will be painting is not about me, it's about other people. I want to bring my paintings of your horse or a horse into your home. I want to, if you want me to, make a painting of your horse like I've done for Beach Fork and other people, I want you to have not just a picture of your horse, but your horse and it's soul, it's everything. It's the character, that's what I want to present. And so my work is not just about me ,it's for the viewer and other people.

Shane Jacob

Awesome, right on. Tom, what's the best place to connect with you or to be able to see your work?

 

Tom Fuller

Well, thank you for asking. They can go to my webpage is tomfullerfineart.com. And I'm on Facebook at Tom Fuller Equine Western Art. I think that's it, Tom Fuller Equine Western Art or Western Artist. And on my Instagram also.

 

Shane Jacob

Right on. All right, well very good. Tom, we wish you continued success. Again, we're proud to have you. It's an inspiration to be able to have you here and talk with us today. We appreciate your time. Thankyou for doing this on The Horsemanship Journey.

Tom Fuller

Thank you, sir, very much.

Recommended For You