Thursday, March 19, 2009
Today, I would like to introduce to you a great artist, Tom Thordarson. I will do a series of articles about Tom, former WDI Imagineer now living in Hawaii - lucky man! - and this first article will delight those of you who love Hawaian Tikis, Pirates, and lands of adventure !
Tom Thordarson, or "THOR" as he is best known by both collectors of his work and the growing awareness in the art community, can truly take your imagination on a journey unlike any other. His life as an artist began when he was just old enough to hold a pencil. With his mother being an artist as well, she would hand him paper and pencils to "keep him out of mischief," as she would say. The years spent drawing and painting would soon become a powerful tool to communicate his intense imagination and endless spirit of adventure in his career to be.
Below, a recent picture of "Thor", holding a frosty Mai Tai in his hand.....which is always good for a little inspiration!
In his own words, Thor explains, "Creating my own entertainment and building my own toys was an activity I was highly encouraged to do as a kid. I learned to believe in the real magic and power of my imagination. I believed that if I could draw something with enough passion and thought, then what would stop it from becoming something I could touch or step right into one day?”
"My entire childhood was filled with endless curiosity, drawing and adventure. I loved building tree houses and forts from scrap wood and stuff I could find in my Grandfather's workshop. The experiences that would lead me to what I paint today were inspired by my family's incredibly fun vacations every summer to Hawaii beginning at age 6. I also have two sets of cousins on the Big Island who encouraged me to become a certified diver when I lived with them for many summers growing up as well."
"So, Hawaii is my second home. I love the sea. I spent endless hours on Maui and Hawaii combing the beaches and climbing trees in the nearby jungles pretending I was a pirate or some ingenious castaway living off the land in a high seas adventure."
An honors graduate in Illustration from the prestigious Pasadena Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, Thor was immediately discovered by the entertainment/theme park industry which he remained in for 17 years. His imagination and talents have led him to conceive, illustrate and paint concepts for countless rides and attractions with many major entertainment companies. With strong skills in both team leadership and his art, he served as the Director of Attraction Development at MCA Universal Studios, Hollywood and then as a Disney Imagineer with his role as a Director/Senior Concept Designer.
Among his many assignments at Disney was the task of the concept design for one of the main "E-ticket" rides for Tokyo Disney Sea called "Journey to the Center of the Earth," TDS top rated thrill ride. He was also a key team player in the early design phases of many other attractions for Disney Sea, especially Mysterious Island.
Residing now in both California and Hawaii, Thor has put aside the entertainment design industry to focus on his art inspired by those early days of tropical adventures that shaped his art and imagination. "I am painting the fantasies and stories now that I imagined all those years sitting on the beaches, diving in the sea or building hideaways in the lush island jungles," Thor explains.
At the beginning of the article, i've promised you Tikis, and here is a selection of Tom's Hawaian scenes with Tikis.
Some years ago, Tom did these two gorgeous paintings below for the WDW Polynesian Resort: "I did these two paintings a couple years ago when they were renovating the Polynesian Resort. I was commissioned directly by Wing Chao, Vice Chairman of Walt Disney Parks & Resorts. He is a fan of my Hawaii and Tiki art and owns some of my work. These paintings are reproduced and framed in all the new suites in the Polynesian today. There are about a half dozen hidden Mickey's in each painting... I also did four large paintings that are behind the main reception desk at the Polynesian when you check in."
"I am hoping that everyone finds these enchanted places, intriguing contraptions or playful characters I am painting now as much fun to look at, as they are for me to paint. Please feel free to step into them. Come by and share some Aloha spirit with me and I will tell you a few magical tales. The tiki torches are all lit and fluttering in the trade winds.... I will see you on the lanai!"
Tom also creates incredible paintings, not using ink, but rum! That's right, the same and famous Pirates rum! it looks great, as you will see with the four "rum paintings" below.
Now, if you want to see Tom in "action", don't miss this video below, where you'll see Tom at home in Hawaii - filmed by his teenage daughter - experimenting with a fun series of sketches created with flaming rum and a paint brush!
Tom is also painting a great "Tiki Idols" series where he take a person that is tied to the Hawaii pop culture and paint them as a Tiki: "I had a lot of requests for me to do an Obama...so I cranked one out last week before the weekend show. This "Obama Tiki Idol" is the latest add to my Hawaiian Tiki Idol series, and it sold instantly!
Tom Thordarson have his own web site and a gallery in Hawaii - more precisely on the Island of Oahu - where you'll be able to find his beautiful artwork, including these Tiki idols series. Some of them are on sale, and whether it is the originals or very affordable prints, any Tiki lover will find his happiness! Also, if you're a fan of Tom's artwork and want to contact him, feel free to do it through his MySpace page.
In the next article we will talk about a great attraction concept that Tom did for Landmark Entertainment. I think we can describe it as a "Jungle Cruise with Dinosaurs" ride and believe me, you will love it!
Artwork: copyright Tom Thordarson
Polynesian Resort paintings: copyright The Walt Disney Company
All my thanks to Tom Thordarson for all his beautiful artwork!