Saturday, May 02, 2015


Long time readers will recall that I'm a big fan of the work of Tom Fluharty.  I'm particularly impressed by the way he applies his great talent to one medium after another.

He draws with a sharp, crisp line, taking full advantage of the fact that line can provide a snap that no other medium can.


These preliminary studies, filled with honest, observant drawing, could easily stand alone as finished work.

Fluharty is especially good at capturing the character in his subjects so that they jump off the page.
In contrast to his brisk drawings, he is also a classically trained oil painter who works patiently in glazes in the Dutch and Flemish tradition,  inspired by Bouguereau,  Ingres, and Rembrandt. 

He is equally at home working digitally:

Illustration for the New York Times

He illustrates children's books in a flatter, more colorful style:

But is probably better known for his adult, political illustrations

On his new web site, Fluharty announces that he has recently begun a series of large oil paintings of pop culture icons:

Fluharty worked to understand the distinctive attributes of each medium and I admire the way he brings his special talents to bear in each.


MORAN said...

His Hilary Clinton is awesone.

kev ferrara said...

What I like about his caricatures is not only how expressive they are, but just how solidly sculpted they are. That takes deep knowledge of how light, form and construction work together. A whole lot to admire in his artistry.

Richard said...

Can't imagine what sort of knowledge was required to make his painting of Hendrix's hands possible.

Boggles the mind. closeup

The Art of Kim Kincaid said...

I'd love to know more about what Tom uses for photo reference. Is that all in his head? Fantastic work, all of it.

etc, etc said...

Dude that's Prince not Hendrix.

Great enjoyable caricatures. Maybe I'm changing my mind about caricature.

Richard said...

Kim -- I don't think anyone just does caricatures off the top of their heads. Not good ones anyway.

etc -- Heh, too impressed by the hands to look at the face.

Unknown said...

I love the subtle changes in style depending on the medium - great work.

David Apatoff said...

MORAN-- I agree. Fluharty won a gold medal for that one.

Kev Ferrara-- Good point. Despite all the liberties he takes with form, his figures remain highly believable because he gives them real substance.

Richard-- Those hands jumped out at me as well. They aren't the typical exaggeration; there's a real opinion there.

etc, etc said...

As a general maxim, most of the really great guitarists (without regard for whether Prince is or isn't) have fingers like crab legs. I'm a guitar player and I don't have them. Gives me finger envy.

David Apatoff said...

The Art of Kim Kincaid-- You can see a video of Fluharty drawing from photo reference, as part of the class he teaches on drawing fundamentals: . But as with most excellent artists, he adds the important stuff to the photograph.

etc, etc-- I'm glad to hear it.

Unknown-- Yes, when Fluharty selects one medium over another, he does so for a reason, and from a position of strength.

Anonymous said...

Excellent! What's happening in the last picture? Is that Fluharty?


Sean Farrell said...

Tom Fluharty,

We never met, but whenever Ken Bald would visit my agent in NYC, Paul Santa Donato, he would ask about you and having lived in MN, that would get relayed to me, once when Ken was in Paul's office. I don't know if you say hello to Ken, but I wanted you to know he has asked about you a few times . I'm talking several years back now and before. Anyway, I'm sure Ken is really proud of what you've accomplished assuming he is aware of your work. You know Paul too I think from Gem. He and Ken do stay in touch. Also I really enjoyed what David posted and your website and the very relaxed and comfortable drawing of Ringo!

Sean Farrell

Laurence John said...

the Simon & Garfunkel and Janis Joplin paintings (on his site) are outstanding. they're so sculptural they almost look like models.

Kathy said...

Mr Apatoff,

I found a version, on tracing paper, of an Albert Dorne drawing. The paper is yellowed, ragged at the edges, was folded and found in an old sketchbook from a yard sale. I had it framed years ago. The drawing has always been a mystery. It's too well done to have been accomplished by someone who was merely tracing Dorne's work. Maybe it was a way of transferring a corrected drawing that had too many visible changes. It's a very complicated drawing. I sure would love to have a conversation about it with you and learn what you think it might be.

john cuneo said...

Cannot imagine how that Ringo could be improved upon with paint.
Also can't figure out how Tom manages a Prince caricature from that angle. So many delightful mysteries..

David Apatoff said...

JSL-- Yes, that's his self-portrait as a Russian Commissar. I have no idea why.

Sean Farrell-- Thanks for making the connection. I know Mr. Fluharty stops by here from time to time and I'm sure he will see your message.

Laurence John-- Agreed. A nice combination of sculptural solidity and whimsical elasticity. He has been a very funny guy in the world of political caricature for a long time, and he seems to be shifting his focus to pop icons lately.

David Apatoff said...

John Cuneo-- Yes, don't you just love that Ringo? He has several others on his web site, different approaches to drawing Ringo at different stages of his career, all terrific.

Kathy-- the Famous Artists School, which was run by Dorne, included in their materials an example of how Dorne developed his complex compositions on tracing paper. It was a large, very tangled street scene with a crowd of people witnessing a disturbance. It was reproduced so faithfully that dozens of people who inherited those Famous Artists School materials assumed it had to be an original drawing. As a result, many copies of it have showed up in flea markets and local auction houses as an original, but experienced dealers in Dorne readily recognize it for what it is.

If your drawing is of that street fight, then I suspect it is a reproduction. If it is a different subject, it may be an original.

Richard said...

Feed the birds, tuppence a bag ♫

Rosalind Ford said...

Oh my goodness I love his work! Again- very very inspiring :)

Nathan Fowkes said...

I've had a chance to meet the man (at Comicon of all places) and thought I knew his work but those children's book pieces are a masterful and delightful surprise alongside his excellent portraits and caricatures.

Thanks David!

David Apatoff said...

Richard-- Thanks for sharing, I hadn't seen that one. There's something about Hillary Clinton that inspires Fluharty the way a red cape inspires a bull.

Rosalind Ford-- Thanks for writing, I'm glad you share my reaction to Fluharty's work.

Nathan Fowkes-- Great to hear from you. Yes, Fluharty's children's books are something special. He seems to have three or four different audiences, each of which is unaware of the work that he is doing for others. One of the fun things about a blog like this is that I can pull together examples from different venues to give a sense for the broader range of his talent.

Kim Smith said...

Love this work.