By: Gail Obenreder
From the time he was young, Thomas Del Porte was an avid art museum-goer, traveling with his mother and sister from their Valley Forge home to major cities like Philadelphia, New York and Washington DC. He loved seeing art, and he especially loved the paintings of Van Gogh and Monet.
Del Porte attended the University of Delaware and stayed in the state. But when he began to create his own artwork, he started working not with the oils he had admired as a young man, but with watercolor. One semester, though, he slipped into a class in oil painting and described it as “finding my native tongue.”
Del Porte’s work is characterized by “a realism that stands on top of a thick textured world,” partially influenced by his life-long mentor, beloved Delaware painter Edward Loper. The younger artist first studied and then painted with Loper “as colleagues and friends until the day he died.” Del Porte also studied at The Barnes Foundation while it was still in Merion. And as it did for him when he was young, museum going still proves to be a major source of inspiration. Del Porte goes to the Barnes nearly every week.
The painter has been a studio artist and Guild President at Wilmington’s Delaware Contemporary and has been an instructor at Delaware College of Art and Design. To date, he has been featured in over 30 group and solo exhibitions. And not content with sedentary pursuits, he is also an outdoorsman – an avid golfer and canoeist – who has “crossed the country on a bicycle a few times.”
Choosing what to paint from the infinite variety around him is always a challenge, and Del Porte has begun to see things differently in the past two years, experiencing a shift in his work toward a more personal sphere. The artist (who received a 2014 Emerging Artist Fellowship) has been without a studio since October 2017. So this DDOA Award will help him convert a building behind his house into a studio, giving him a place to teach and a permanent workspace that will allow people to “discover things I put in my work for years to come.”