By Josephine Moore

the register-herald

The Register-Herald office in Beckley has transformed its main entryway into a public art gallery with more than a dozen abstract and brightly colored paintings from a Montgomery artist.

Eric Thomson, 51, said he hopes his artwork helps to brighten someone’s day during these dark times.

“Most of my stuff is very bright,” he said. “I’ve always enjoyed working with color ... I want to brighten people’s rooms, home, workspaces – wherever I can.”

This is the third time The Register-Herald has displayed public art on its walls though a partnership with the Beckley Art Center.

Robby Moore, the executive director at the Beckley Arts Center, said he appreciates the partnership and the opportunity that it gives to local artists and the community.

“We’re so happy that we get to partner with The Register-Herald because it allows us more wall space to display even more local artists,” he said. “(Thomson’s art) is so bright and bold and just happy. I think people will have a great experience when they come and see them in person.”

Thomson’s art, which will be on display for the next few months, can be viewed at The Register-Herald, 801 N. Kanawha St., Beckley, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Visitors are asked to wear a mask, which can be provided upon request, and practice social distancing.

“The Register-Herald has enjoyed the partnership with Beckley Art Center,” said Lisa Stadelman, advertising sales manager with The Register-Herald. “We strive to support local businesses and artists alike and welcome the public to stop by any time to view the most current exhibit. The vibrant, colorful pieces have been a welcome addition to our lobby.”

Thomson, who has been drawing since his early 20s, said the majority of his paintings on display at the paper were created within the last few months.

“When Robby (Moore) told me about this opportunity, I used it as a challenge,” he said. “I had a bunch of canvases sitting around, and they needed to be put to use ... and this was the perfect reason.”

Thomson said he used a variety of techniques when creating his pieces. He said several of them have a spray paint base with acrylic paint over top.

For others, Thomson said he diluted acrylic paint and then spayed it over the canvas using empty condiment bottles creating a “dripping effect.”

Clippings from newspapers can also be seen in a few of the paintings using a technique Thomson stumbled upon many years ago while studying at the Rocky Mountain College of Art and design in Denver, Colorado.

“It adds a texture to it,” he said. “When you’re standing back from it, you don’t necessarily know what it is ‘til you get up close.”

Thomson was also a student at the Joe Kubert School of Art in Dover, New Jersey.

Thomson said much of the inspiration for his paintings comes from nature.

“What I see when I step outside my door – it could be flowers, trees, wildlife – there is a great deal of inspiration there,” he said.

For young artists just starting out, Thomson said his advice would be to draw anything and everything.

“Draw from life, draw people, draw your surroundings, draw nature,” he said.

He added that there’s no need to worry about spending a great deal of money on supplies because all a person needs are pencils or pens and some paper.

“But most importantly, be kind to yourself,” he said. “Don’t be hard on yourself. Everybody, even I, still make mistakes. I still have to redo things and I’ve been at this since I was 20 or so. There are still things that are a challenge for me to draw so don’t be too critical.”

Thomson said all of his pieces on display are for sale. Inquiries for purchase can be made to the Beckley Arts Center at 304-253-9226.

The Beckley Art Center also has an exhibit at its Dan and Cynthia Bickey Art Gallery on Johnstown Road. The exhibit BW WV (Black and White West Virginia) features black and white photographs from roughly 50 artists.

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