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    THOMAS BENENATI                           Resume

    Kelso, Washington


    Artist's Statement:

    Process is discovery, but the terror of upsetting the last discovery makes
    process difficult. I launch from the last painting, or my most recent trend of
    intuition, into the next work. I know each landscape adaption I make
    illuminates (or soils) the next. The paintings are both sequential and
    Painting is deliberate distraction from the raw and uninformed into the
    interpreted and extrapolated. It's the world, corrected. How I respond to
    landscape, and being hopeful that I can make a valid account of
    it, fascinates me more than where I actually am.

    About the Artist:

    In Thomas Benenati's best works, the artist strikes a perfect balance between willful design and the randomness of the more subconscious elements of intuition and impulse.

    Benenati dabbled in the arts for many years before devoting himself fully to paint and pastels over a decade ago. As the artist within emerged, Benenati was closely studying art history and steadily expanding his appreciation for modernism and contemporary art.

    "No one really taught me how to make art," Benenati explains. "I do a lot of things they'll tell you not to do, in fact."

    For instance, Benenati will often blend pastels with his hands, leaving fingerprints in the work, or even leave drops of blood from fingers worn raw by the process.

    And in some ways, those are the elements that excite him the most. "I like seeing evidence of the work, the energy and effort, as opposed to a purely polished look."

    Early on Benenati worked primarily in oils. Now he has shifted almost exclusively to pastels, a medium he prefers because of the immediacy and impact.

    "Pastels are a very responsive medium, well-suited for making the world vibrate on paper," says Benenati.

    Benenati draws most of his inspiration from the outdoors where he spends much of his time as a park ranger in SW Washington. Sometimes he will pull over and make some quick charcoal sketches on his way home, or he may just jot a few sentences in a notebook, just enough to jog his memory when its time to paint.

    He might pull several different elements from multiple scenes, or may render scenes wholly from memory,  while always trying to preserve a powerful sense of place and emotion.His works often defy the typical compositions of more traditional landscapes. Benenati can assert the intimate details of apple blossoms or the deep purple of grapes, while creating dimension and expansive space with a subtle mastery of depth, shadow, and light.

    In a work titled "Warm Alders of Baker Bay," bare tree trunks crisscross the foreground as crisp, almost brittle branches jut like calligraphy into a deep blue sky that is fluffed with clouds that float over a strip of clay-like land over a warm expanse of open water.

    Benenati always lets the creative impulse speak and yet never seems to push too hard. As a result, his works never appear rushed or flippant.

    Ultimately, for Benenati, it simply always comes back to seeing the world anew, and seeing the world as a painter.

    "At my best moments, I examine the world around me and see it in paint rather than the wood, rock, and water that really surround us."