Shades of Green: Artist Lucas Thornton
Artist Lucas Thornton slid into his modest home studio and eagerly began rotating pieces gathered from all over his home onto his lyre easel. The walls, lined with everything from mid-sized acrylic paintings, sketches, etchings on aged ivory piano keys and art books – some over a hundred years old – seemed to kaleidoscope out in diverse arrays depending on which piece was been displayed. Paintings from only a couple inches in area to canvases mind bogglingly squeezed through the doorway were all present.
A Eureka native, Thornton didn’t set out to find his artistic voice through relocating to an urban setting or enrolling art school. However, unlike many artists who chose not to pursue art through the academy, he never blew off classical techniques as cookie-cutter entrapments or took to dismissing self-discipline as a product of the institution. Thornton is too analytical and open minded to let a punk rock approach be his only philosophy. Instead, it’s just one of the colors on his diverse palette of approaches. Early on in his career Thornton took to embracing classical methods through an even more traditional approach – apprenticeship.
As a teenager Thornton was part of the Rural Burl Mural Bureau working alongside well-known Humboldt County artist Duane Flatmo. While a member he collaborated on a multitude of murals that can still be seen throughout the Humboldt County area. During his time working with Flatmo, Thornton met artist Jeff Jordan who later mentored the young artist.
“Hanging out in Jeff’s studio, I would kinda peak at his palette and study the colors he was using. Jeff seemed to like showing me his style and approach and really taught me the value of under painting.” Says Thornton. “Though after a while I started to feel like I was beginning to paint too much like him.”
Eventually, in 2006, Thornton got a studio in the Bunne building. “That’s where I met artists like Tony Machado, Junior Deleon, and Blake Reagan.” Explains Thornton. “Although I had little experience, I was soon part of this amazing community of artists, some who had over thirty years of painting behind them.”
For several years Thornton worked along side his friends and cultivated scores of techniques. He also met his wife, artist Gretchen Anderson. The two eventually became involved with what used to be the most contemporary gallery in the area, The Accident Gallery.
Somewhere in the middle his artistic exploration and self-education Thornton’s own style began to emerge. Mixing abstract textures and surrealism with hyper real under-painted figures, many of which are green (There are more shades of green than any other color alleges Thornton.), he felt for the first time that he was headed in the right direction.
With as much of a reflective tone as an artist in his twenties can conjure Thornton relays, “I want to bring those classical techniques into contemporary art in a way that shows skill and depth, without loosing the playful feeling that many artists are conveying today.”
At that very moment he jumped up and retrieved some skateboards and a body board that he’s recently painted, along with a contraption he fandangled called the “ipillow.” “I took an old phone and sewed the speakers into this pillow. Then I plugged in my ipod. It’s great to take to the beach.” He excitingly explained.
As this goes on for a bit it becomes certain that although Thornton has found a style that’s all his own, with most of his life still in front of him, and if the passion he has now continues to flow, he’s undoubtedly going to develop many styles that are all engaging and uniquely his own.