Some people have artistic talent, but very few artists are imbued with a natural raw talent like Tom Noll of Creative Bone Artworks.
A Waukesha resident and one of ten Wisconsin artists chosen to paint a ten foot tall guitar as part of the Waukesha Gibson GuitarTown Project, I had the honor of interviewing the man behind the paint brush which transforms invisible thoughts into layers of vibrant colors and bold abstract strokes of oils and acrylic paint. Not just your every day artist, Tom specializes in creating paintings of musicians playing their instruments in what he dubs the “Art That Rocks” series.
In an ironic sort of way Tom is unique to any other artist chosen for the Waukesha Guitar Town Project, and to me that makes his contribution extraordinary.
Tom Noll is a guitar player and owner of a Gibson Les Paul. Tom personally met Les Paul in 2008 and presented his portrait of Les Paul to the guitar legend himself. Tom is a resident of Les Paul’s home town of Waukesha.
Don’t take the small town artist title too seriously because Tom Noll is a world-renowned artist with over 40 pieces in his “Art That Rocks” series.
How It Began
When asked when he first started painting, Noll responded, “I’ve always been an artist since a kid when I was getting my hand slapped for drawing left-handed.”
Although Tom Noll has worked as a graphic designer in the corporate world for many years, fine arts have always served as his outlet and safe refuge. It wasn’t until the last five years that Tom has been doing oil painting, and he enjoys the thick paints and builds of color that can be applied to so many various surfaces.
In earlier years Tom displayed his fluid landscapes and figural watercolor works in the art fair circuit, but then there was a life changing event that inspired him to transition to oil and acrylics.
“I dodged a bullet with the big C (cancer) in 2007 and decided to leave something behind,” said Noll. As a result Noll started Creative Bone Artworks to market his “Art That Rocks” series. Noll currently has 40 paintings of musicians playing their instruments and he markets them as giclee art prints to passionate fans all around the world. “The Internet is a wonderful thing,” Noll said.
When asked if he ever went to school, or whether his painting just comes natural, Noll explained that he has never had any fine arts training. He did add that he does hold a two-year associate degree in printing and publishing, as well as a two-year associate degree in commercial art. Noll said, “So in other words, I spent four years at a two-year school. Ha!”
The Guitar Player
When asked if he is a guitar player, Noll said “We always had a right-handed guitar around the house and it just never felt right until one day about four years ago. It was at that point that Noll had a realization and said, “hey Dummy, you’re left-handed.” So Tom Noll restrung the guitar and is teaching himself to play left-handed.
Currently Noll has four left-handed guitars, one of them being a Les Paul, and he plays at his house when he isn’t painting.
Meeting Les Paul
“I did meet Les in 2008,” said Noll. “I created the oil painting of him and made prints in time for his visit in June. The painting became the backdrop for his book signing and I gave him the framed number one print from the Limited Edition.” According to Noll, Les Paul signed the original and then he signed four of the prints. Noll said, “I’m so glad I had a chance to make that connection with him.” “When he died, my painting was featured on the front page of the Waukesha Freeman with my headline “He rocked to the end.”
A Bid for the Waukesha Guitar Town Project
When asked how he was chosen for the Waukesha Guitar Town Project, Noll said, “When the Guitar town project was announced, people came out of the woodwork, saying that it had my name written all over it.” “I immediately wanted in and proceeded to find out how I could throw my hat in the ring. I presented a very aggressive design with 11 musicians shown on both sides of the guitar.” “I chose musicians that are known for playing a Les Paul guitar, in fact I did a little survey online beforehand, asking in a generic fashion that if I did a collage of Les Paul players, who would absolutely have to be in the collage. The same names kept coming up!”
After starting on it, Noll added one more musician (Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top) to the backside, making a total of twelve musicians and their favorite axes.
How does Noll feel about being picked for the Guitar Town Project?
“I was honored to be chosen as one of the painters to receive one of the ten giant guitars. I’m having fun showing a new audience what I can do,” he said.
“The challenge is, you have to get the faces right to be recognized, but then you have to get the details of the guitars correct, because fans WILL know.”
When asked what he hopes to achieve through the painted guitar, Noll stated,
“I would be so honored to have somebody who I painted on the guitar come to Waukesha and see it.” “I just met Joe Bonamossa in Omaha and gave him an inkjet print that showed me painting him on the guitar. He was pretty touched and had already known about it.” Noll left him newspaper articles with him to read on his bus with his band to learn more about the Waukesha Guitar Town Project.
Noll stated that he looks forward to the continued coverage of this great project and that he looks forward to seeing his art displayed publicly on Waukesha’s Main Street.
“I think it’s a wonderful thing as Waukesha becomes another guitar town with the many other giant music cities,” Noll said. “I think as this all continues to come together, the people of this fine community will realize how big this is, and how the music industry will recognize the city of Waukesha.”
“Thanks for this opportunity to talk about something that consumed me for the last 2 months,” Noll concluded.
Delivery of the Guitar
Just yesterday, May 12, 2012 Tom Noll posted the following on his Facebook Timeline:
“This Tuesday May 15th, minutes after 5:00 pm, we’ll be rolling through downtown Waukesha as I put the 10′ guitar back into the hands of the Guitar Town people for the final clear coating, and bid it farewell.
It’s been in my possession for 11 weeks and the transformation has been a lot of fun. (Sorry, I got a little paint on it).
As the illustration below shows, the delivery is going to be made behind Tom’s Harley on a trailer:
For those coming out to catch a glimpse, we’ll be coming down Main Street to the west, and at the five points we’re going to loop around the block and head east again starting at Clinton & Main (by Almont Gallery). If you’re standing on that block, I didn’t want you to think we were not coming by. The reason!!! It’s only fitting that we drive by Outpost Music on South St., downtown’s only Music Store, and give a salute to my Les Paul print in the window. (Les would give the nod and that silly smile).
For anyone interested in purchasing any of Tom’s fine art, please visit his website: Creative Bone Artworks