Who is this tom novak
                            (the short version)

Well, he’s me, a loving father of two beautiful
grown sons, Kip and Bram; boyfriend to the lovely
and talented Sarah; grandpa to Kai and father-in-
law to two of the most wonderful women on the
planet, Kirstina and Teresa.  I am a man surrounded
by many loving friends, and someone who is
becoming with each day more aware of the
incredible, precious beauty, diversity and
perfection of all that is.

I was born in Chicago in 1947 and spent the first 25 years of my life there.
I did lousy in school and got tossed out of the art program in High School
in my first year. I fell in and out of love and pretty much suffered through,
no doubt created, the regular painful stuff we all suffered through. Upon
graduating High School I knew college would be a waste of time and
money so I took a job on the railroad laying track. I had hoped that hard
physical labor would help me to appreciate school but it seems there
were other plans afoot. It was 1967 and there was a war going on
somewhere in South East Asia, in some postage stamp sized country I
had never even heard of and before any kind of appreciation for
schooling could kick in Uncle Sam came knocking on my door, calling my
name inviting me, actually ordering me, to take that all expense paid trip
to tour beautiful, sunny Vietnam . . . along with sooo many others. Eight
months in country I was wounded and sent home. Lots of my brothers
and sisters did not come home at all. War is the stupidest of human
follies. Avoid it if you can. I came back with a few souvenirs, mostly inside
my body and a teensy weensy little bit of an attitude … but I also was
feeling the beginnings of that appreciation for education that eluded me
earlier.  So I came home, married my high school sweetheart and
enrolled in school.  Four years later after graduating (School of the Art
Institute of Chicago/University of Chicago, 1973 where, by the way, I got
almost all A’s and B’s?) we moved to central Oregon (Christmas Valley,
Fort Rock area) to work on a ranch and learn to be cowboys. That turned
out to be a 26 hour a day job. I only lasted one year. For the next several
years I worked for the Forest Service as a seasonal employee and taught
some evening art classes for Central Oregon Community College, I also
illustrated my first book for a fellow named Tom Troop who immediately
got involved in politics and forgot all about our book venture. About this
time Lynne had our first son, Kip and soon after we moved to northeast
Oregon, a little town named, North Powder. I did some teaching and
continued working with the Forest Service and I also illustrated a little
book entitled, Zipperthings, by Troy Horton of Baker, Oregon.  Through
our association with Troy we bought some mountain property and Lynne
and I built our own home waaay up there in the mountains west of Baker
(without running water or electricity) where we lived for over eight years.
I also quit the Forest Service and opened my own free lance art studio in
1979 and was taken under the wing of a printer in Baker named Bob
Foree who taught me more than I’ll probably ever realize about printing,
the commercial art business and life. About here Lynne had our second
son, Bram.

Back in Chicago I painted with oils and acrylics and my paintings were
more surrealistic or fantasy like. After living in Oregon for a while the
images I painted changed; I began painting realistically portrayed wildlife
with watercolor.  In the 1990’s I went back to oils and the images I’ve
painted since then change all the time, from serious portraits to more
whimsical illustrative paintings. Of course I do commercial work as well,
jobs like logo designs and signs, cartoons, murals, t-shirt designs, and
just about anything else that comes in my door. I’ve illustrated over 20
books for other authors as well as one children’s book of my own. I’m
comfortable in a variety of mediums - oils, watercolors, pen and ink,
pencil, clay and of course Photoshop. I’ve created several museum
exhibits, dioramas, both temporary (on display for several months) as
well as permanent, ranging in size from small scale model exhibits to life
size.

I’m sure every artist has her/his reasons for creating art and for why it is
important.  Some artists feel they have to make a conscious statement.
Some feel that the art should move the viewer toward action or a specific
way of feeling. Others feel the art should move the viewer but don’t think
they should necessarily control where that viewer is moved to, just so
long as the viewer comes away changed.

For me art has very little to do with the viewer. My art is all about me.
Does that sound selfish or perhaps a little ego-centric.

What does it mean to be "inspired" to create something?  The word itself
is the answer to that, but the word has become so common so as to have
lost its original meaning,bu the word "inspiration" means “in spirit”.  To
be inspired is to be “in spirit” with something.  

When I am painting I often become totally engrossed in my subject and in
the act of painting.  When I maintain that level of concentration, or being
at One with my subject matter for a long enough period of time and that
time length can vary from day to day, I come to a place where I am not
aware of anything else, I am just with my painting ... musicians used to
call it “being in the groove” ... and in that state I'm not worried about the
argument I had with you or the fact that my bank account may be empty or
that our country is engaged in yet another war ... I am just there with the
painting, One with the painting.  No ego.  When I can come to that ego-
less state I often find I step aside, I get out of my own way as the popular
expression goes, and when that happens something wonderful occurs:
Source flows from where it is now
through me into this place.  And that is
when great art happens.  I’m not saying I create great art, I am saying that
when great art is created that is what's going on, it’s a collaboration.  I
don’t do it, you don’t do it; we co-create it, it is a result of our direct
connection with Source.

Even to suggest we co-create the art is misleading for that suggests
there is Source and there is us, as if we are separate from Source, which
I don't believe we are.  We are One with Source. Just as the heart that
beats in your chest is separate from your fingernails, they are both a part
of you. There is no you without all the parts and there are no parts
without the whole that creates the environment they thrive in.  Separate
and individual and yet an intricate part of the larger One.  When we can
practice this idea of "getting out of our own way" we're removing the
blinders that keep us trapped in the illusion of separation while still
maintaining our identity as self.  It's one of those Divine Dichotomy things
that are not easily explained with words.

I think on our own we’re capable of creating some mighty fine stuff, but
the great stuff, that comes with a little help from our friends and our
connecting with All That Is.   

And that experience feels good.  To experience the Oneness, the being
right here right now, in this one particular moment is what it is all about
for me.  It's all about my "being", that is who I have to "be" in order to
"do" what it is I appear to be doing.  But you can't stay in that place.  So
the practice is to be here now, and then now, and then now, and so on.  
That’s what we’re all doing, learning to be here in this moment instead of
dwelling in the past or future, which by the way is where we spend 90% of
our waking moments.  Think about it, watch your thoughts.  We’re either
spending our hours feeling guilty about something in the past, fretting
over something we didn’t do or worrying about something we should
have done ... or we're lollygaging off in the future dreaming, longing for
something different that what we are experiencing right now, as in
dreaming about a vacation. or we’re stressed out with fear about the
future, about what’s about to happen next.

Go ahead, monitor your thoughts and see for yourself.  

I think that’s why rock climbers climb rock faces and why motorcyclists
drive fast through corners and why sky jumpers jump and why any of us
does the crazy and often life threatening things we do, because when we
are doing these things there is an associated rush at some point, and we
love it, we feel exhilarated, we feel alive.  And we feel that way because
we are right there in the moment with whatever it is we are doing, we’re
in the NOW, because to not be there in the moment could mean the end
of life as we know it, or life period.  Our being in the moment, right here
right now, may be the rush … when you’re not worrying about the
argument you had this morning with your lover (the past) or the fact that
the bills are due and you’re broke (future) or your sagging libido (future)
… you’re right here right now, and in reality that’s the only place you can
be, ever.  There is only ever this moment.  The rest is illusion,
psychological time, it's all in your head.  Even when you do think about
the past (remembering) or worry about the future, you do it now, in this
moment.  Now is all there is.

When I paint or draw I set the stage for the removal of ego, which is the
illusory self, the fearful self, the self all about form, and in doing so I "get
out of my own way" making room for the experience of my realizing my
Oneness with Source.  And maybe, someday, some great art may happen
too, but that will be the by-product, of secondary importance, not prime
importance.    

There you have it, the short version of who tom novak is.  If you haven’t
had enough yet, continue on with the longer version, once I get it
publised here.

Either way, thanks for taking a few moments out to view my website.

Smiles,
tom
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