After 30 Years, Artist Thomas Delaney Picks Up a Paintbrush and Starts Over

Time for an art restart.

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  • Written by
    Eliza Krpoyan
  • Photographed by
    Monica Orozco

Remnants of blue and white paint color Thomas Delaney’s hands. Yet for three decades the Hermosa Beach-based artist hadn’t picked up a paintbrush.

Thomas worked as a corporate executive for 25 years at companies like Disney and Mattel. About four years ago he had a kidney transplant that changed his career. As a precaution, he no longer could work a high-stress job, travel around the world or put in long hours. After 30 years he went back to painting.

Inside his Hermosa Beach home/studio he has multiple paintings in the works. His modus operandi is to work on three paintings at a time. “If I get caught up in and stuck, I move on to something [else],” he says. The paintings are usually three distinctly different styles, which helps his creativity.

“I’m relearning my craft and pushing myself every day.”

During his senior year of high school, Thomas painted himself and two classmates. The assignment was to take a picture of three students and put them in an organic pose. The young artist interpreted this literally. He placed himself and his peers against a tree.

The watercolor painting reveals muted hues including terra-cotta, blue, grey and yellow. It awarded him a scholarship to Illinois State, where he was an art major for three years before switching to marketing.

His art is very different now than the works he created as a child and adolescent. At the age of 10, he made his first work of art: an oil painting of a young boy. In seventh grade he painted an impressive, dark portrait of Abraham Lincoln.

“I’m relearning my craft and pushing myself everyday,” says Thomas, whose mission is to inspire and motivate others to overcome any obstacles they might have.

His newfound painting style is malerisch. “When you look at my paintings, it’s really just a lot of paint and visible brushstrokes,” he says. “It’s a celebration of paint.” Other artists who used this style of painting include van Gogh and Matisse.

Thomas’ artworks range from linear beachscapes to tropical flowers and palm trees, a wave that breaks the fourth wall by crashing off the canvas through the use of chicken wire, and a resin Chicago skyline that lights up. “I don’t want to be stuck in just one type of style,” he says.

An ongoing series shows lifeguard towers facing the street view—not the beach. “I wanted to have a different viewpoint from everyone else,” he says.

A single project that’s been a labor of love is really two pieces of art in one. “I took two paintings and spliced them,” explains Thomas. “If you look at it this way, it’s one painting, and if you look at it the other way, it’s another painting.” It’s on display at Barsha Wines and Spirits in Manhattan Beach.

More of Thomas’ work can be spotted on the walls of local restaurants like Decadence in Hermosa Beach and ArcLight Cinemas in El Segundo. He is a member of South Bay Artist Collective, where he has participated in shows like Symbiosis. He’s also a member of the Los Angeles Art Association and Friends of the Arts.

The transition from the corporate world and its many perks was difficult at first. Then as he got back into his art—the passion, the calming, the community—he let go of that.

“I don’t miss that lifestyle I had before,” he says. “I live a much simpler life. But again, it’s helping other artists out, where when you’re in a corporate world you’re more dog-eat-dog. It’s a lot more peaceful and enjoyable right now.”