Michael “Chili” Thom (1976 - 2016) was a man of the mountains. A wilderness guide turned artist, he was always happiest and most comfortable when he was out exploring in nature. Teaching himself to paint at age 20, Chili found a way to take the emotion and majesty of the landscapes he loved, mostly from his home in British Columbia, and translate it onto the canvas.
Completing over 400 original pieces over his 20-year career, Chili loved to play with colour, motion and the passage of time in his work.
When Chili Thom passed over to the other side in November of 2016, he left a legacy. His creative spirit and enthusiasm for life inspired us to get outside, to make things happen, and to enjoy each moment spent with friends, especially out amid the power and beauty of the forests, coastlines and mountains that he loved.
"Nature has given me a lifetime of inspiration," Chili once said. "In just a few decades, I have seen how mankind has damaged our planet at an exponential rate. I love snow. I love clean water, fresh air, wild animals. There come's a point where you have to look inside yourself and ask, 'What am I willing to sacrifice to protect something that has given me the life of my dreams?'"
As an artist, Chili was known for his colourful land and seascapes, painted in layers of bright colours and featuring his distinctive, signature style. His art transports the viewer to remote places of incredible natural beauty. “In nature,” Chili believed, “there are a lot of challenges you have to power through. You suffer out a storm, or a long slog up to a summit, but you are always rewarded with something beautiful.” Beloved throughout the Sea to Sky corridor, he was named Whistler's “Best Artist” in the Best of Whistler poll for the 14th time in a row in 2016, and post-humously was voted “Favourite Whistlerite” for 2016.
"Your experience in nature depends on how you choose to position yourself within it. My art acts not only as a form of escapism, but also as a tool to deepen appreciation for the natural world in which we are all inextricably connected.
My process is about discovering and creating layers of patterns that combine together to create a colourful vibrating 3D landscape, similar to the contour lines on a map. This technique allows the eye to blend all of the components in a progression of colour and form that make sense only when viewed as a whole. I attempt to covey a feeling of complex simplicity on my canvases, which speak of the importance of cooperation between all the individual components, analogous to how all individuals on the planet must work together with nature to in order to achieve a harmonious result."