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Tomhu (Tomtu)Huron Roberts (1859-1938)

See the paintings/sketches of Tomhu!

{Written by Dale Bertrand from researching the John Hugh Roberts dairies and the notes in the sketchbooks of Tomhu Huron Roberts.}
1. Where do you get your ideas?

I got my ideas from nature and all its wonders. By examining texture, colour, shadings, tones of different natural objects. By focusing on the difference light will make upon an object or subject, whether direct, indirect or in the shade.

2. How many books have you written or illustrated?

I had no books in publication but did do lesson books with my illustrations and comments for my students.

3. How long did it take you to write and illustrate a book or do a painting?

It would depend upon the subject or object. I would usually start by a sketch, paying particular attention to the contrasts of colours, shading and tones, then I would return to my studio and either paint it as a watercolour or an oil painting always painting under a lamp. Some paintings and sketches would take a full day others could be done very quickly, in minutes.

4. What advice do you have for the children?

Pay particular attention to the beauty of nature and all living things. Examine the object and do a sketch which you can then expand into a painting. Go to art galleries and see some of the wondrous paintings and examine the techniques used by different artists. Study these until you find a style you like and then try to do "your own thing" with the tools you have. You will be surprised at your results.

5. Is it hard to write or illustrate?

Concentrate! Focus! These can be quite difficult in today's world. Learn these abilities and you will succeed at your endeavors.

6. Who inspired you to do your work?

My father had a great influence on my appreciation of all natural things. As for my fine art, Ruskin for his philosophy and painting techniques, and both Turner and Constable for their dynamic view of skys, oceans and landscapes.

7. What kind of materials do you use?

I would use pencil, pen and ink, and watercolour outside and then return to the studio where I would then take the best sketches and develop these into oil paintings on canvas or sometimes academy board.

8. Do you do a lot of research for your books?

For my paintings I spent hours a day outside observing flowers, plants, animals, landscapes, and people.

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