Born in Colchester and raised in Oxfordshire, Tom Hughes initially wanted to be a professional snowboarder but wasn’t good enough. His second choice (the more sensible one) was to make a full time living from his art, which he has been doing with gusto since 2005. He began his career as an illustrator before switching to painting when the lure of oils became too much. Tom exhibits regularly at the Mall Galleries in London and has been selected for numerous prestigious prizes, including the BP Portrait Prize, the Lynn Painter Stainers Prize and The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. In 2014 he won the Benton Purchase prize at the Discerning Eye and in 2015 he won both the Smallwood Architects Prize at Royal Society of Portrait Painters and the prestigious critics prize at the New English Art Club. He lives with his partner and two children in Bristol.
I love the outdoors and I love painting. Working on location "en plein air" lets me combine the two in the most wonderful way. Being outside with the elements on your skin changes the way you work. It’s not just about the light, you feel different when you work outside, you’re more connected, it’s more intimate and that all comes down the arm and through the brush.
There’s fun to be had indoors though, too. When I’m painting in the studio it’s me that controls the light, not mother nature. I have multiple lamps that I move around the room to create the mood and shadows that I want. It’s a slower, more methodical way to work, but you can plan more and work through problems without the ticking clock of the rotating earth, pulling the light away from you.