Header Image: "A Word Best Describing My Life", 2020. Ballpoint pen and acrylic paint on watercolor paper mounted on panel.
Born in Biloxi, Mississippi, artist Tommy Mitchell has been drawing since he was small. He would draw anything that piqued his interest, whether it’s magazine covers or baseball bats. Now based in Baltimore, Mitchell did several retail jobs before returning to his childhood passion. Drawing on this childhood habit, Mitchell uses ballpoint ink as the main tool in his paintings.
As a self-taught artist, he studied tattoo artists and how they create bold images with ink. The influence of tattoo artists is clearly evident in his frequent use of symbols and bold blocks of lines and colors. Mitchell’s softly rendered portraits convey emotions and feelings that are achieved by contrasting the photorealistic details of the figures with acrylic swaths of flat colors. He uses iconic imageries of fashion and religion to create empowering portraits of people of color.