Faux painter Thomas realizes a dream
DILLON – As you sit on the deck of Mexico Cantina, the concrete wall separating the parking lot from the restaurant looks worn. Black, green and yellow stains stand out, as if well water had soiled a once bright and clean white wash.If the wall stood in an inner city, it would be an eyesore. But in Dillon, it’s art.Andy Thomas spent about three months making the new restaurant look old and worn inside and out with faux finishes, and he’s proud of it.The Dillon resident layered earth tones over stone, wood and metal to create a warm Old World atmosphere.He used the faux finish on every surface not otherwise covered with stone or metal – right down to the air ducts, exit signs and light switches.
He created a mossy, aged look on the wishing well located in the middle of the restaurant. He painted a natural-looking calcium buildup on the edge of the fountain’s stones. Below an iron balcony, he simulated rust stains bleeding down the wall.The brownish ceilings look like they’ve been saturated with water. And the bathrooms -complete with sinks painted to replicate red marble and clay, and “windblowers” hanging over the toilets – are a work of art in and of themselves.”My goal is always to create that natural feel, not a painted one,” Thomas said. “It gives you a more unique, exotic feel. My passion is to provide the best and edgiest finishes and murals. I’m trying to set a very high standard for everyone in the industry.”Faux finishes take an ordinary, flat surface and make it extraordinary. You’re able to reproduce an Old World feel that cannot happen just like that. It adds atmosphere and ambiance and personality to a home or commercial building.”
From immigrant to award-winning artistThomas just won a gold award for the best overall commercial faux finish from the Fauxademy of Decorative Finishing for his work at Mexico Cantina. The competition draws about 1,000 entries. He also won two awards for two different reliefs of elks he produced for homes in Summit County.”I never thought I would be doing what I love to do,” Thomas said.He grew up in Trinidad and Tobago and moved to Summit County about eight years ago. He initially worked as a log peeler, but his background in art led him to faux painting about five years ago.”I am an artist, and I always wanted to use my ability in a way to get immediately compensated,” he said. “So I took my raw talent and put it together with formal training in faux finishing.”
He hopes to achieve recognition nationally, and even internationally.”I’m looking forward to having my name planted in cement or steel – something that’s permanent,” he said. “But my greatest accomplishment is my immediate family – my wife and 18-month-old son. My family’s my drive to achieve the most elite company in my trade. That’s what the American dream is all about. It’s the perfect place where I can make my dreams come true.”Thomas named his faux finishing company Versatile Strokes because of his variety of offerings – from murals to furniture and floors.”It’s so cool to see such an excited person,” said Keith Marlowe, who hired Thomas to do one of the 4-foot-by-3-foot elk reliefs that won an award. “He amplifies why successful people become successful. He says, ‘I become successful – all I have to do is just work hard.’ It’s fun to watch his success.”Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 245, or at email@example.com.
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