Tom McGregor

Statement & Biography

Tom McGregor

One of my earliest memories is my mother setting me up with a chalkboard in the back room of her beauty shop. Long before I started school, I loved spending those long days filling and refilling the board with scenes from my imagination. I remember being so absorbed in my work. That feeling of total immersion in a world of my own creation is something I strive for every time I paint. For the past 25 years, I've pursued a career as a graphic designer. But it wasn't until the early 1990s, when I opened my design studio in Lowertown St. Paul and met my wife, Jerri Jo Brandt—who is also a painter—that I returned to painting on a regular basis. When I discovered plein air painting, I was hooked! It combines my passion for being outdoors with my love of painting. These days, I maintain my design business and paint almost every day.

I paint with a prismatic color palette, a theory with roots in late nineteenth century French art. The prismatic palette consists of very intense, clean colors. I learned it from Joe Paquet, who studied under John Phillip Osborne at the Ridgewood Institute. Osborne learned it from Arthur Maynard, who was trained by the renowned Frank Vincent Dumond of the Art Students League of New York.

For a painting to communicate, craftsmanship is essential. With each painting, I strive to hone my craft so that I can better articulate my artistic vision. I want to spark recognition and feelings of connection to the places and moods I am presenting. Applying highlights to a field of grass, for example, makes you almost feel the warmth of the day emanating from the painting. Quality draftsmanship and brushwork, confidence with line, and color mixing are skills I practice each time I paint.

When scouting for a location to paint, I look for rhythms and patterns in nature that appeal to my sensibilities. My paintings have evolved into a form of realism with an affinity for the abstractions within nature. Rows of corn draped over rolling hills form op art-like patterns. Clear azure skies become minimalist paintings. Water surfaces are a favorite of mine because distorted reflections afford the opportunity to paint like an abstract expressionist within the context of realistic painting. The beauty of our natural world—the woods, the streams, the structures placed upon it—makes my heart beat faster.

A day spent outdoors painting is always a good day for me. In each of my paintings are memories of good days. I hope that these paintings evoke memories of good days for you, too.




Anticipating Spring


Out of Commission


Wild Garden




Superior Spring Morning