Born and raised in Southern California, artist Thad Donat received a B.S. degree in Architecture from California Polytechnic State University in 1991, and attended the Royal Academy of Art & Design, University of Copenhagen, from 1990-1991. His degree in architecture provided a potent mix of art, science, technique and discipline, and his international studies in Copenhagen added the key ingredients of travel, culture and perspective to his creative persona.
In addition to the study of art and architecture, Thad has directed industrial design, hand-crafted furniture, restored turn-of-the-century homes, traveled to faraway places, and currently owns a retail design firm in Seattle, Washington. His training as an architect and his design firm business ensure that he is constantly working with new materials, color and composition, as well as traveling frequently. All of this exposure serves to feed Thad’s creativity and artistic inspiration.
“Art for me is everything ordinary daily life is not,” Thad continues. “I run a professional design practice that is constantly faced with rules, regulations, codes, permits and deadlines. It is very challenging and just occasionally truly rewarding. In contrast, creating art is very rewarding, occasionally challenging, and there are very few rules. As a professional artist I am expected and rewarded for painting outside the lines.”
Indeed, for Thad, painting transcends ordinary modern life. Says Thad, “While modern painting is a demanding task, it has few rules: richness of color and texture, complexity of line and shape, rhythm and arrangement, merging and emerging of layers, relationships, embracing accidents. These are all opportunities rather than rules or requirements, and they are the forces that drive my work.”
15 years of experimentation in every medium Thad could get his hands on made one thing clear: he is fascinated by the potential of paint to create textures and patterns of great beauty. Little compares to those moments when somewhere amidst all the layers, lines, markings and chaos, harmony emerges.
“The elements that populate my paintings come from my admiration of chaos and finding beauty in the ordinary,” says Thad. “The backgrounds are sometimes as important as the subject and occasionally the two are difficult to decipher. There is no middle ground. Beneath their surface, woven in a fabric of marks and erasures, time does not exist. Occasionally in painting, even gravity has vanished.”
Thad finds creative inspiration in the most unlikely places, whether from interesting relationships between objects, a simple texture, a view from 30,000 in an airplane, a random doodle or a found object. He remarks that, “. . .very simple things taken out of context become interesting. This gets a painting started. Then, somewhere among the layers of color, marks, lines and erasures, a painting emerges.”
Acrylic and graphite are Thad’s preferred painting media, because they dry quickly and allow him to be spontaneous, rapidly working and reworking areas while keeping the colors fresh and clear. He describes his style as having an unusual blend of layering and texture, color and line, where sometimes the background is more important than the foreground and “. . . occasionally the two are difficult to decipher.”
Thad’s working style is 15 years in the making. He comments that while it’s not perfect, “. . . it feels entirely right.” His art process has everything to do with what makes his work unique, therapeutic and rewarding to him. “It is all about not being afraid, about incidents and accidents, about spontaneity combined with just enough control and technique to avoid making a complete mess.”
Thad’s works have appeared in numerous group and solo exhibitions in California and Washington.
“The elements that populate my paintings come from my admiration of chaos and finding beauty in the ordinary.”