Tom Cross

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(1954 – 2009)  When creating his artwork, Cross often began with a sketch – sometimes done on paper and scanned in, sometimes sketched right on the computer with the use of a cordless pressure sensitive stylus and tablet that very effectively mimics the look and feel of natural drawing and painting. He was an early adopter of the digital format in artwork. He would then fill in the color and strokes, or ‘paint with electric light’ as he liked to call it. “The fact is that I have some 16.7 million color choices on my digital palette. I’m not constrained or hindered by tubes of smelly paint and dried up ‘perfect’ colors,” that can never be recaptured,” remarked Cross. “And the real beauty of it all is that when finished it is digitally direct printed as a giclée print, which is the only medium that can capture all the colors and subtleties I employ. It is really ironic that my chosen medium is also the one best suited for taking full advantage of the giclée print medium, which is a medium gaining wide acceptance for its superior quality and reproduction values.”

Cross’ art found resounding success in many facets of the art market, including licensed use on cards, puzzles, textiles and dimensional work. Clients include Leanin’ Tree Cards, the Franklin Mint, and F.X. Schmid Puzzles to name but a few. Cross also found wide-spread acceptance in the fine art limited edition print market, having had his work published by the prestigious Mill Pond Press and Applejack/National Wildlife Editions. His hand remarqued giclées and originals hang in select galleries worldwide, having had one-man shows or featured artist shows at Nihon Galleries, Nagoya, Japan, Brittany-Lore Gallery, Sarasota, FL; Corporate Art Gallery, Mentor, Ohio; Our Heritage, Upper Lisle, NY; Gallery One, Mentor, Ohio; Germanton Gallery, Germanton, NC; Golden Lynx Gallery, Rochester, NY. Cross is also a published author and illustrator, his latest 96-page, full-color art book entitled FAIRY GARDEN; Fairies of the Four Seasons, having been published by Andrews McMeel Universal in the Fall of 1998. A lavish 176-page work entitled THE WAY OF WIZARDS, is slated for a Fall of 2001 release.

Cross’ goal for his work was to be visually engaging, but the art can pull the viewer in on different levels. “You can either follow a path of fantasy and/or folklore, or if you delve deeper, it twists around into the environmental message inherent in each one,” he says. “To coin a phrase, ‘Yesterday’s magic is today’s science.”

Cross, the scientist, is a noted specialist on barrier island and beach ecology. He taught, wrote and illustrated on the subject for the likes of the National Estuary Program, The Conservation Foundation and the Cousteau Society. Finding that all too often the essential messages about the environment seem to dire or demanding on the general public, Cross turned his efforts some years ago on the mission to make these messages more inviting by using healthy doses of folklore mixed with scientific fact. “I try to explain nature and ecological principles in a lighthearted way. Seeing how our predecessors viewed the world around them – through their stories, their art and their superstitions – often softens the blow and makes learning about our world much more enjoyable,” explained Cross.

Technology was exciting to Cross.  “The giclée process is improving every day, becoming ‘museum quality’ permanent through the use of archival papers, canvases and lightfast inks, and even by utilizing embellishments such as metallic inks and embossing,” said Cross. The use of technologies had not escaped Cross, having staked a claim to turf here and there on the on-line services and the world wide web. “It is an incredibly exciting time to be in the business of information. Be it words or pictures or both, I see that ironically it may be our use of this technology to deliver the right information to millions of people that eventually serves as the warning bell to begin really appreciating and protecting our environment.”

Even though he’s stepping into the future with his techniques, Cross’ concepts are steeped in simplicity. “I’d like to encourage people to look around, have a good time out there; ecology doesn’t have to be drudgery,” says Cross. “It’s so easy with our busy pace of life and technology out there – faxes, phones, modems – to forget the medium that we are all swimming through together. And that is nature.”


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