Drawn to Art
An artist scratches out an existence on the Wharf.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Dressed in a velvet jacket and a polka dot tie, with a scarf wrapped around his neck, a man waits at the far end of Fisherman’s Wharf. Charcoal-covered fingers and an easel reveal why he waits.
“Art is something that I live for,” Tomo Yamaoka says. Pulling out a large black folder from a ragged old backpack, he unveils a stack of stunning pastel drawings and acrylic paintings. Strokes of reds and yellows leap out, leading the eye into the graceful curves of a woman’s face.
Born in Tokyo, Yamaoka’s dream of creative freedom brought him to the US at the age of 18. It was a dream he conceived as a young boy as he sat in class, drawing the girl sitting next to him instead of listening to the lecture. In the US he saw a greater opportunity to share his love of art as both an artist and a teacher.
Today, as then, people are his biggest inspiration. He finds his subjects at the Farmers Market, in the corner of a coffee shop, or at one of Kalisa Moore’s bellydancing shows. While he waits to catch a break with these works—his promotional efforts include a Web site he updates regularly—he scratches out enough money to rent out a converted garage by sketching faces for a few bucks and completing odd jobs. In between sketches, he reads a worn Bible.
He waits patiently for the day that his art will better support him, buoyed by the daily opportunity to keep creating. Often he rises early to do it. “The skies are filled with pink pastels and clouds of purple in the early morning hours,” he says. “I love to paint seascapes then.” Look for him pulling his rickety cart filled with an easel, umbrella and paints behind him, heading down his usual path to the water’s edge.
TO VIEW TOMO’S WORK visit tomoy.com.