Rice Festival to raffle Fulton painting

by | February 28, 2019 5:00 am

Last Updated: February 26, 2019 at 2:09 pm

Walterboro artist Thomas Fulton’s painting of the Donnelley Wildlife Management Area’s rice trunk is going to be popping up everywhere around the city in April.
It began with a phone call from the Colleton County Rice Festival Board member Bubba Tripp about Fulton’s painting.
“When they saw it on the Facebook page I have, Bubba asked about using it for the Rice Festival t-shirts,” Fulton said.
Fulton gave the board permission to use the image as the illustration for their shirts for the 44th annual Rice Festival free of charge, but he will retain ownership of the original artwork.
“They have already made the shirts, they look good,” Fulton said.
The board returned the original to Fulton, but Trippe was back on the phone a few days later and said the board wanted to buy the painting. The board’s current plan is to conduct a fundraising raffle with the Fulton original as the prize. The painting will be displayed at area businesses where residents can sign up for the raffle. A schedule will be released soon.
Fulton enjoys visiting Donnelley. “I am down there all the time. I’ve probably done 50 paintings down there,” he said.
“Every time I go down there, I see something different,” he said. Visiting Donnelley with an artist’s eye, he explained, “I see things other people might not see.”
He takes his camera on every visit. “I take a lot of shots on a good, sunny day,” Fulton said.
When he finds a potential subject for one of his pastels, Fulton may take as many as 50 photographs. “Then I come back home and put it on the computer.”
He finds what he believes to be the best photograph to transform into a painting. That photograph goes up on a computer monitor that he has set up right next to the stand where he has his canvas.
He uses an image from his camera to paint both his scenes and his portraits. “In my studio, I probably have a couple hundred paintings of Colleton County scenes.”
When he is doing a commissioned portrait, Fulton said he will take between 25-30 photographs of the subject. Then he and the portrait’s subject sit down together and pick out what photos they like.
Working from a photograph, he explained, is a lot easier on the subject. “It is hard to sit there for so long,” he said.
Fulton has been painting since the 1970s. He started his career as a painter using oil paint but switched to pastels after an instructor suggested it.
“I get up at 6 a.m. I work every day. I take breaks and drink tea all day long.” Sometimes he paints until 11 at night.
When he is working on a painting, it can become a marathon session. “It is hard to step away from it,” Fulton explains.
Working in pastels fits his artistic process. “When I start a painting, I want to get it finished. You can’t do that with oils,” he said.

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