Tomoko Gillespie's Art

Tomoko Gillespie, founder of Appalachian Dream, was the featured Artist of the Month at the South Boston/Halifax County Museum during July and August 2017.

Over 50 pieces of her art were on display, including portraits, still lifes, animal scenes and other subjects. Click on the image at right to open a photo gallery of many of her pieces. Commission work is available upon request, and high quality photographic reproductions of these prints are available for purchase.

Her works are owned by former U.S. President George W. Bush and a former Japanese Prime Minister.

Tomoko said every painting she has made in the past has a special story behind it.

“Or, because of the story, I wanted to memorialize it with a painting. For instance, I was looking at a picture in which my dogs were sitting on an open, partially packed suitcase, looking at me sadly. It was when we were stationed in Japan with the 7th Fleet, at Yokosuka Navy Base.

“My husband was a frequent flyer to Washington, D.C., almost monthly. He had to go to the Pentagon, the Washington Navy Yard and the senior officers’ training center at Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland.

“Our dogs did not like that he left us so often, and suitcase packing was my duty to do. So, every time I opened the suitcase and started to fill it with the necessary things for the trip, the dogs moved to the inside of the suitcase to protest and interfere.

“That is why the painting is titled ‘Check in or carry on?’”

Gillespie said she was a good art student in Japan through elementary, middle and high school.

“In those years we were taught only pencil drawing and basic oil and pastel painting.

“My mother proudly kept a lot of award certificates for me and supported my interest. I remember that reflected pride fondly. It became my dream to be able to paint with brushes,” she added.

In 1999 Gillespie said she finally had the opportunity to learn brush painting at the Danville Museum Annex, in a class given by Jack Clayton.

“He taught me basic oil and acrylic painting for three months. When Mr. Clayton relocated, I had no teacher to continue learning from.

“Obviously most of this time I was self-taught. My teacher had been a specialist in landscape painting, but I preferred to paint people, dogs, flowers and the things I saw in my daily life,” she said.

After her assignments in landscape paintings, Gillespie said she started to paint small sized portraits and still lifes.

A first one was a 5x7 inch small canvas portrait of Elvis Presley.

“It was good enough that I had my first commissioned portrait, of Elvis. It was $85, and I included a chocolate candy box which on opening one could hear Elvis sing ‘Blue Christmas’ then wish a Merry Christmas.

“I repeated this theme six times and sent one of them to the Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi who was a well-known Elvis fan and who shared the same birthday with the ‘King.’

“We knew Mr. Koizumi from meeting at a garden party even before he became the Minister of Public Welfare in his home town of Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture,” she said.

In order to improve her painting skill, Gillespie said she took Daniel Green’s well-known and respected (New York) portrait artists’ workshop. Cindy MacMillan also taught there. She had come to know her when she was a teacher at Founders College at Berry Hill Plantation.

“I was at the time the manager of The Gillespie Clinic in South Boston: but painting proved to be the perfect relaxation after a hectic day’s work. No talking, just sitting and quietly moving the brush, not my lips,” she said.

Ideally, Gillespie said she would prefer a model (sitter) in front of her for two hours, but this is not often practical, so she compromised by using a photograph and an interview.

“Still, a live model is best,” she said.

In 2014 Gillespie established the non-profit 501-C organization: the “Applalachian Dream” for international cultural, art, and music exchange, to support charitable activities to help children suffering from natural and man made disasters: earthquakes, tsunamis and wars.

“My paintings are used to make fundraising materials: note cards and small art-inspired goods. The proceeds go to help the children in need worldwide,” she added.

“I feel very honored to be selected as the featured artist July 12-Aug. 12 at the South Boston Museum. I hope everyone will enjoy my art work and meeting with me,” she concluded.

“Block Meeting by Dogs”
(2015) Oil
"Zinnia's in Ceramic Watering Pot"
(2013) Oil
“Lynn’s Zinnias”
“St. Francis” (2015)
Original by T.A. Gillespie

“Grocery Store’s Flowers”
(2017) Oil

“Zinnias in Teapot”
(2014) Pastel

“A Girl with a Pearl Earring”
Original by
Johannes Vermeer, 1665
Collection of Dr. Kobayashi

“Taro Champion Dog”
in Lhasa Apso
(1998) Sketch

Smart but ordinary in Lhasa Apso
(1997) Sketch

"Bird's Eye Sketching from
Room 3312, Park Hotel,
Tokyo (2004)

"Still Life"
Grapes, Lemons & Pot

(2010) Graphite
Selected for finalist group by Juror:
Everett Raymond Kinstler

“Part of Charles Stewart Sixth ”
Original (full length painting):
Charles Stewart Sixth Marquess of
Londonderry, Carrying the Great
Sword of State at the Coronation
of King Edward VII
by John Singer Sargent

"The First Farm House"
(2000) Pencil

“First Easter Bonnet”
(2004) Pastel

"12 Year Old Entrepreneur"
Jack Richeson
(2007) Pastel

“I Am May”
(1999) Acrylic

"Even Dogs Study"


“Golden Afternoon Nap”

"Dog in Barn"
(2004) Pastel

“Doberman Pinscher’s Puppy”
(2014) Pastel

“Hairdresser’s Sheltie”
Shetland Sheep Dog (2006)
Collection of Mr. & Mrs. Ricky

(2007) Oil
A boy and his pet

“Dog and Wisteria"
(2 012)

"Check In or Carry On?"
(2002) Oil

"This Old Barn"
(1999) Acrylic

"Duke Garden"
(1998) Pastel

"Farm Land"
(1999) Acrylic

"Bonnie's House"
(2009) Oil

"Near the Homestead"
First oil painting

"First Class Family"
(2006) Pastel
George Allen's Family

"So The World May Hear"
(2005) Pastel
Mr. Bill Austin and a Group of
Hearing Impaired Children

“George W. Bush with Barney”
Owned by Former
President George W. Bush

“Mean Youngest Navy Captain”
(2000) Oil

Thank You letter received from
Former President
George W. Bush

"George W. Bush"
43rd US President at
Crawford, Texas (2011)

“Dr. Cameron Gillespie”
(2008) Pastel

"Japanese CEO"
(2005) Oil

"Mrs. Tani Austin"
(2004) Oil

“Reverie in Blue”
Elvis Presley (2004)
A duplicate of this painting was a gift to
Former Japanese Prime Minister
Jyunichiro Koizumi

"Elvis in Photo"
(2012) Oil
From a very rare photo

“Tomoko and Mariko”
Recognized as meritorious entry by
WI Competition
Original photograph by
Dianna Allen Portrait Design

“It Must Be From Seville Road,
London” Rod Stewart
(2007) Oil

“Celine Dion”
(2012) Oil

“Justin Bieber”
(2013) Oil