“Abstract shapes tend to dominate my work, rectangles, triangles, circles and squares. Even when I paint a figure, especially one with a headdress, the focus is generally on the shape the headdress creates. In this case, it is just the opposite; it’s the man’s profile that really grabbed me. In fact, I cropped off the edge of the feathers on his headdress in the painting so they wouldn’t distract from his face. Handwritten on the back of the old photograph was ‘Lakota, Pemmican’ so I’ve always assumed that was this fellow’s name. This painting is about the years, the miles, the knowledge, the experience, the sorrow, the pride and the joy etched in this man’s face that was his life”
– Tom Gilleon
Artist Tom Gilleon was born in 1942 and raised in Florida by his grandparents. His grandfather had immigrated to the United States from Scotland and became a renowned cabinetmaker. His grandmother was a full-blooded Cherokee.
Gilleon earned a scholarship to play baseball at the University of Florida where he took courses in architecture. He served in the Navy in the early 1960s and then worked as an illustrator for NASA’s Apollo space program. Eventually, he went solo as a freelance illustrator based in Orlando and was hired by The Walt Disney Corporation to deliver conceptual sketches and designs for its Disney World theme park. Later, he moved to California to work at Disney’s Imagineering studio which designed Epcot Center and then Gilleon assisted in the planning of Disneyland Tokyo, Disneyland Hong Kong and Disneyland Paris.
The American West left a mesmerizing impact on him as an artist. Gilleon lives now in Montana near clusters of teepee rings which inspire him in many of his paintings. more