Lincolnville artist's Cedar & Sand show opens at Pascal Hall July 21

By Susan Mustapich | Jul 19, 2018
Courtesy of: Tom Hardy Artist Tom Hardy of Lincolnville's sandblasted cedar bas-relief "Cathedral" depicts Mount Katahdin viewed from the Cathedral trail.

ROCKPORT — Tom Hardy enhances the forces of nature to produce original bas-relief paintings of Maine's mountains and coast.

The sculptor, painter and wood carver's show "Cedar & Sand" opens at Pascal Hall in Rockport July 21, with a reception from 6 to 8 p.m.

Hardy's artwork begins with a cedar panel and a sandblaster. Blast by blast, he uses sand on wood to shape a drawing into multiple dimensions.

"My compositions are abstracted by nature," Hardy said. "The design of the actual wood is created by nature, which I cannot control, but comes out in brilliant ways that I could never achieve with a knife."

Along the way, he creates a mathematical puzzle to organize the steps he will take as he proceeds. The puzzle helps him navigate the complicated reality of creating a carving, where one artwork may have as many as 70 different layers.

He equates his work to "making instant driftwood," which in nature is formed over decades of "being pelted by water, sand and wind. I'm just taking that and expediting the process significantly," he said.

The final step is a painting on the sand-carved wood. Hardy enjoys it when people recognize the places he depicts on his panels, and is pleased when the finished work achieves a "looking through the window quality." A close look at a finished piece also reveals that underneath the painted surface is an intricately carved, many-layered vision, which is larger than the sum of its parts.

Hardy calls his process "co-creating a carving with nature." The sand, shot out of a hose at high velocity, eats away the cedar's low density fiber, while the higher density fiber resists the sand. In Hardy's hands, this reveals "the character of the wood" which "becomes part of the composition."

"It's in my control, but it's also a little out of my control, which I really like," he said.

Hardy's pieces range from raised hand and footprints, and silhouettes of birds and bonsai trees, to sculpted bonsai creations, and views of Maine's rocky coast and mountain trails, with each significant depth and elevation change carved into the wood.

The gnarled and knotted wood of bonsai trees, featured in Hardy's work, has held a fascination for him, as well large pieces of driftwood, which he collects. With bonsai, and driftwood, he is drawn to the forms created by outside forces over time.

His major works depict views of places like Mount Katahdin, coastal coves, and a new work featuring Maiden Cliff that he is "interested in and passionate about."

The artist finds inspiration in the work of his grandfather, Lloyd Thomas, who created bas-relief works with chisels and knives, and was employed for over 30 years at the Camden Shipyard (now Lyman Morse at Wayfarer Marine). One of Thomas' most prominent works of art is a large bas-relief displayed at the top of the stairs inside the Camden Public Library.

Hardy is a metal worker by trade, and is employed full-time at Rockport Steel, where he "is the guy who does the sandblasting." An accidental discovery that sandblasting wood "does really interesting things" led him to develop his own version of bas-relief carving, through trial and error.

Currently, his time off is devoted to making his art. An involved piece can take more than 100 hours to produce. Hardy, who "does not have much interest in doing things that are easy," enjoys the challenge.

He contrasts his grandfather's process of carving that "involved an incredible amount of finesse," with his method of "carving by instant brute force." Despite the different methods used along the way, Hardy is following in his grandfather's footsteps, producing a fine and detailed finished product.

"Cedar & Sand” will run through Saturday, Aug. 3. Gallery hours are Wednesdays through Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and by appointment. For more information, see @tomlhardy on Instagram and or email

Comments (1)
Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Jul 17, 2018 15:11

This is indeed unique. I am fascinated with this new kind of art process.

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