While browsing through galleries of Swopes' paintings I became more and more intrigued with the variety of forms and color. His abstract work is enticing causing the viewer to examine every section of his paintings in hopes of finding the hidden message. In one of his biographies Swopes explains how the death of his son in 2006 caused a change in his artwork. In his statement about his artwork he says:
It would reflect themes of balance...: life and death, joy and sorrow, happiness and sadness, hope and despair, light and dark, gain and loss, creation and destruction. After Tyler's passing, my life was so out of balance that I could not address the themes of death, sorrow, sadness, despair, darkness, loss or destruction that had been so much a part of my work. My real world was so devoid of light and joy that I created a world of light and joy in my artwork to get me through.
After learning of the loss of his son, his artwork seemed to have a deeper meaning than just pretty colors and shapes. The images he creates portray deep emotions of both hurt and strength, making it clear that his artwork helped him overcome the tragedy of his sons death. The scene above gives hints of an after life with the sun-like figure at the bottom with a lady seeming to enter into it. Giving a sense of leaving the earth (the dark red, not so welcoming background) and entering heaven. These hidden meanings are emotionally luring to the viewers making him an intriguing artist.
Thomas Swopes. The Meeting. Acrylic on canvas. 2007
Swopes has been an art teacher for 20 years at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. He has won numerous awards for his artwork which can be found anywhere in the United States. While not working on artwork, he trains horses, which explains his use of animals in majority of his paintings. In the image above there are two horse-like creatures as well as two other dog/ wolf figures.Even though he uses animals and people in his works, they are all slightly skewed in some way and never realistic. He tends to be quite a story teller through his artwork. In each of his works above, there is obviously something going on. There is a sense of movement and interaction between the living creatures and the earth. He also adds on a dream like quality as all of his subjects do not have definite features. The bodies seem to be shadows instead of actual human beings. Swopes creates his own universe that each have their own story to tell in each of his paintings.