A career in art is not an undertaking that one is influenced to do. Artists are born to create and it is a passion that consumes them to their very core. So states Todd Plough of Little Valley, NY. “One can learn how to paint anything but you need to feel everything to be a great painter, you need to love each stroke you make. This isn't chopping wood, it's the talent of revealing a dream and it requires the caress of a loving hand and a sharpened mind.”
Plough’s talent shines through in many realms and painting is just one of the many layers that make up his artistic identity. After spending his childhood in Western New York, Plough’s family moved down south near Knoxville, Tennessee in 1982 when his father’s job led them to the Smokey Mountains, where his parents still reside to this day. After college, Plough decided to return to his childhood home, where he dedicated himself to the pursuit of his artistic career.
ONE-ON-ONE WITH TODD PLOUGH
You spent the first part of your life in WNY and then moved to Tennessee in your teens. What influenced you to return to WNY?
The South is a wonderful place and different enough to be another country in many ways. Being from WNY I realized one Christmas day that I needed to get back home while watching the neighbors play football in shorts on green grass. I need a White Christmas and the change of seasons to feel content.
You went to college for graphic design and illustration. What/who are your artistic inspirations?
My inspirations, Picasso of course and Monet who taught me the most about color, John Singer Sargent and Sorolla. These guys are at the top of the food chain and emulating their standards cannot help but make or break any painter - the secret is persistence - after all anyone can quit.
Aside from americanimpressionism.net where else can people find your work? Currently some of my latest works can be seen in downtown Ellicottville at AMERI-CAN. This is a great eclectic gallery and my friend Liz Boberg has been very supportive of my fiance' Darlene Allen and my work in the back Gallery as well as the storefront.
Please describe your creative process. What inspires you and how do know when you want to begin a new piece?
That is a giant question. In a single word art is communication. When I see some lighting effect that I haven't seen before, that is a big thrill for me, much more than any type of narrative so that is what I choose to paint. The subjects themselves are really just a point of departure to get the audience into the work, after that it's all about the light.
It's funny every painting has it's place in time. Often I will be thinking about a work for years before it ever comes out on canvas but when it is right you simply feel it. And when you see a snow covered valley or a calm stream in the woods, are you painting on location? Painting plein aire, on location is a delight of course however even the great masters ie Monet always retouched images in the studio. I find a combination of both gives the best effect as painting outdoors is like trying to hit a moving target as light and color shifts are constant. They add an energy to the work and sometimes it is good but like a sauce it is usually better after it seasons a day and you can tweak it with a bit of visual pepper.
Do you have any other hobbies that occupy your time? Do they offer any sort of added inspiration to your artwork?
Other hobbies include kayaking, cooking, hiking , target shooting and on occasion hunting, however I haven't done much of that in that last few years. Anything outdoors inspires me but kayaking really is at the top of my list these days.
What's your impression of WNY in terms of the arts?
WNY is jam packed with great artists of all types and I believe that everyone worth their salt eventually rises to the top. In the book of proverbs there is a verse, "Do you see a person skilled in their work? They will stand before kings, they will not stand before obscure men.” As a Christian, I marvel at the beauty of this design so inspiration in nature is an unending source I draw from.
Aside from being in college, did your time in Tennessee drastically influence your artistic side?
My ten years in Tennessee opened my eyes to the immense wealth of visual expression humans have explored. Four years of extensive art history at the University of Tenn. helped me to personally qualify what I feel to be legitimate image making vs fake art, that is the weird disguising itself as profound. I love abstraction, but it needs to have a thought behind it worth my time.
If you had to select one piece that you've done over the years as your favorite, what would it be and why?
In all sincerity I try to make every piece I work on my favorite, it keeps you growing and that is the only path to excellence.
It looks like you've also spent a fair amount of time teaching. What influences you to do that? Has that experience opened up new doors for you in terms of your creative thinking?
Teaching adult art classes came to me out of the blue really. A person who had just opened a very nice gallery asked if I would like to teach, I've been at it for nearly two decades now. One of the main reasons I choose to share my artistic experience is that while at UTK art school, the majority of what I learned came from my own intensive research and studio work. Of course the instructors were helpful however few fed me the answers I thirsted for as an art student. Sharing these revelations with others versus having them try to re-invent the wheel really helps get people off to a great start when it come to making real art.
You've done quite a few exhibits/shows over the years and won some nice awards. Is there one in particular that sticks out in your mind?
About fifteen years ago I submitted a group of my impressionist works to Sotheby's for their consideration. They were delighted with the lot and began additional inquiries about the artists. When I informed them these were in fact mine we ran into a bit of a pickle as at that time they did not accept works from the original artist as a matter of policy. Disappointed yes, but otherwise a thumbs up from Sotheby's - yeah that's a good thing.
If being an artist hadn't panned out for you...what was your backup career desire? For me, that's like asking a raccoon , "if being a raccoon hadn't worked out for you...what's the back up plan." I'm just a painter - that's it.
Do you have any pieces that you're currently working on that people should be on the lookout for?
Currently I am working on a couple different projects. One is the group called "anti matter" featuring the play of shadows and that is all I'm revealing about it at the moment. Second, people can look forward to some unique new impressionist works in the front window of AMERI-CAN on a weekly basis. These large round paintings give a entirely different sense of place to the land and waterscapes they depict. Finally a group of pure painting abstractions or rather constructions will also be presented on main street ( Washington ) throughout the coming months. In addition the updated website www.americanimpressionism.net will be featuring over 100 never before seen works from private collections in the very near future.