Tom Forrestall’s compelling tempera paintings are compilations from memory which he executes painstakingly over weeks and months in his studio. These sustained works expand on ideas that he conceives while painting in watercolour. Forrestall’s watercolours are quick and immediate works typically painted en plein air; whereas, his temperas are careful and deliberate creations from his imagination. Tom describes his egg tempera paintings as "bits and pieces" taken from "here and there" and put together in such a way that approaches his vision somewhere in "the mind's eye."
Like other celebrated narrative artists, Forrestall draws his inspiration from diverse sources including artists and periods that came before him: from the early iconographers of Christian Orthodoxy, to the 17-century Dutch masters, to one of the most admired Italian painters of the 20th century, Giorgio Morandi.
For the most part, Forrestall chooses unconventional shapes for his temperas while he rejects the more familiar rectangle. These “shaped paintings” begin their journey as quick sketches—simple outlines in the artist's sketchbook which are fabricated into panels by a local artisan. Forrestall seals the panels with gesso using an age-old recipe of whitener and rabbit skin glue. Then the panels sit and wait, at times piled five deep in the studio, until the artist’s vision takes hold. Forrestall’s preference for oddly-shaped panels has remained constant over the years as his visions evolve.
You might say that Tom Forrestall taught himself over the last fifty-three years. Faithful and dedicated to his craft, Tom rises early in the morning, mixes the pigments he’ll use over a few days and quietly paints his masterpieces, secluded within his third floor studio. He was introduced to egg tempera painting by Alex Colville (former Faculty member at Mount Allison during the late 1950's) along with classmate, Christopher Pratt. As Forrestall explains, it took him a few years to settle into the medium. Fortunately, he never looked back as he mastered the art form.
Forrestall raised his family of six in a centuries-old home overlooking Halifax harbour on the Dartmouth side. (Many of his children are artists of note: sons, William, Jack, Curphey, Frank and daughters, Monica and Renée.) Tom’s late wife, Natalie—to whom he dedicated his oeuvre—gave her unwavering support over forty-eight years.
The National Gallery of Canada; Art Gallery of Nova Scotia; Beaverbrook Art Gallery; Owens Art Gallery; Dalhousie Art Gallery; Art Gallery of Ontario; Art Gallery of Mississauga; Art Gallery of Hamilton; Art Gallery of Windsor; Winnipeg Art Gallery; MacKenzie Art Gallery; University of Lethbridge Art Gallery; National Gallery of Hungary; Musee d'art contemporain; Canada Council Art Bank; Rideau Hall; National Capital Commission; The Senate of Canada; Nova Scotia Legislature; New Brunswick Legislature; Mount St. Vincent University; King's College; Mount Allison University; Acadia University; University of New Brunswick; Concordia University; Memorial University; Confederation Center; New Brunswick Museum; CFB Halifax Officers' Mess; Peerless Carpet Corporation; Royal Bank of Canada; Bank of Nova Scotia; Bank of Montreal; Esso Resources; Irving Oil; McCain Foods; Readers Digest; The Ondaatje Corporation; Toronto City Hall; The Pasha of Marrakesh; Empire Corporation; Dominion Foundries; K & D Industries; Newfoundland Corporation; Public Works Canada; Atlantic School of Theology; Via Rail; Archdiocese of Halifax; Sun life Insurance; Mitsui Corporation; Midland Walwyn Capital; RCMP; IWK Health Centre; John F. Kennedy Library; Pierre Elliott Trudeau