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Artist's Biography

THE ART OF FRANK M. THOMAS, LDS Church Historical Artist, U.S. Army Combat Artist, Wildlife Artist and Chronicler of the Early American West.

He is an avid researcher of the native American Indian people, the pioneers and the wildlife of the Rocky Mountains. He also loves recreating and painting their stories in his medium of choice... acrylic on large canvases.

As a boy and a teenager growing up in mid fifty's Chino, California, Frank always knew he would be an artist, but never dreamed the tools of his trade would one day include an M-16 rifle, grenades and helmet, along with his camera and sketch pad. He even expected making the usual "starving artist" sacrifices to achieve. However, for most artists, braving sniper fire in mountain jungles, helicopter assaults, sloshing through Mekong Delta rice paddies, to research art, or crossing an Iraqi desert in M-1 Abrams tanks aren't expected sacrifices.

Wedding Photobio-photo3
                   Married 17 September 1960 -                                  Frank & Patreecia Thomas, Washington, D.C
              Los Angeles LDS Temple, California.                                                end of Desert Storm.

 In 1960, Thomas married his high school sweetheart, Patreecia Leavitt, a Utah, transplant to Chino, California. He then graduated from Brigham Young University in 1964 and took a teaching position in Beaver, Utah. It was the perfect place to raise his family. Deer hunting was magnificent in the surrounding mountains! Thomas was assigned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the local Utah National Guard artillery unit. Oh! Life was sweet! But, winds of change and winds of war were sweeping the world and soon touched even his quiet little mountain town. So, as others plied their arts back home, Frank's art career took a track few have dared travel.

After serving as a 9th Infantry Division field artillery firing battery executive officer (XO of Btry A, 2/4 FA) in combat against Viet Cong guerilla forces in Vietnam's Mekong River Delta (early 1967), his tour of duty was radically changed from the field artillery role.

 

1LT Frank MA Battery Rung Sat                               1Lt Frank Thomas - fire mission "A" Battery, 2/4 FA - Rung Sat Special Zone

 

 

1st Lieutenant Thomas was selected by the U.S. Army Center of Military History to serve as a combat artist/leader of two combat art teams.    Because of the virtual impossibility of painting combat if you don't experience it, they entered into river, jungle and mountain operations with many combat units.   Their mission: to record combat through the eyes of an artist...for historical purposes.   Captain Thomas later was awarded the Army Air Medal for his helicopter combat assaults as an artist! 

 

A Battery Rach Kien 2129495342611839823                                              Alpha 2/4 fire mission                               Artist FrankThomas on reconnaissance patrol - Xuan Loc

 

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Former BYU Art Students, part of U.S. Army Combat Artist Team IV, Long Binh, Vietnam;  (from left: Sergeant Ron Wilson (Grantsville, Utah), 1st Lieutenant Frank Thomas (Beaver, Utah), Sp 5 Burdell Moody (Mesa, Arizona)

 

 
 IronTriangleRR Hawaii Patreecia

Mid October, 1Lt Thomas, Vietnam Combat Artist, on a helicopter combat assault into the "Iron Triangle" with the 1st Infantry Division, several days later, he has flown from "purgatory to paradise" …on R&R with his beautiful wife Patreecia, in Lai, Hawaii. 

Following the Vietnam tour of duty…years of school teaching, business, art studio painting, as well as U.S. Army, Army Reserve and Utah National Guard tours followed.   Finally, in February 1991 through September 1991, for one last time, while other artists remained in studio or taught their art, Frank Thomas was recalled from his Delta High School art classroom to active duty service in the Persian Gulf, as an official US Army Combat Artist for Operation Desert Storm.   When being deployed to Vietnam (with the 9th Infantry Division), he left behind three tiny children; when flying to Saudi Arabia and Desert Storm, he left behind three tiny granddaughters.

 

Desert StormEmirsPalace
LTC Frank Thomas, Combat Artist,                                                    Balcony of Emir's palace
     Saudi Arabian Desert.                                                (overlooking the Persian Gulf) Kuwait City, Kuwait.

 

End of Desert Storm077
Line of Demarcation - Safwan, Iraq (north of Kuwaiti border).

He worked with M-1 Abrams tank battalions, Bradley cavalry units, and Apache helicopter attack squadrons throughout Kuwait and Iraq to paint and immortalize U.S. soldiers at their finest.    Always on the move, Lieutenant Colonel Frank Thomas arrived at the south bank of Iraq's Euphrates River with the 1/1 Cavalry Squadron, 1st Armored Division.   Oh, that desert combat theater was tough on a 52 year old body.

Thomas returned to his high school art teaching in Delta, Utah.   Finally, in February 1993, after 31 years of uniformed service, he retired from the military, as a Lieutenant Colonel, Army of the United States.   At his Army retirement he was presented with the Order of Saint Barbara, (a British & U.S. Army professional field artillery award), and is the only artist known to have ever served as a U.S. Army Combat Artist in two wars.

 

Warren Burgerdefend
Art print presentation to Chief Justice Warren E. Burger, U.S. Supreme Court, Washington D.C., September 1991

His sketches and large canvas paintings of Vietnam and Desert Storm soldiers, in their pride and pain, are part of the Army's art collection in Washington, D. C., and the Library of Congress In 1996 he painted two commissioned historical canvas murals commemorating Utah's 100 years of statehood. Thomas' canvas paintings and art prints are found in the collections of professionals, U.S., Army generals, and nationally recognized elected and religious leaders, including President George Bush, Senator Jake Garn, Senator Orrin Hatch, Utah Governor Michael Leavitt and LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley.   A piece of his Bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution art ("THIS WE'LL DEFEND") was placed in the Martha Washington Building, Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, in 2013.

nauvoo farewell

His large 32 sq. ft. LDS historical canvas painting of Mormon pioneers crossing the frozen Mississippi River, titled "NAUVOO FAREWELL: The Exodus Begins," now hangs in the Nauvoo (Illinois) LDS Visitor's Center and the Nauvoo LDS Temple.  

Frank's 20 sq. ft. canvas painting, "The STANDARD of TRUTH," is displayed permanently in the Missionary Training Center (MTC) Provo.   In 2006 and in 2009, two of his newest large paintings were juried into the LDS Church's International Art Exhibit, Salt Lake City, Utah.

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      At 24 years.                                                                               Married 50 years.

1202-7775Lieutenant Colonel Frank Thomas, receiving his award from Ernie Smith and Bill Perry, Freedoms Foundation, Salt Lake City.

In February 2012, Frank Thomas was presented with the George Washington Honor Medal from the Freedoms Foundation, at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.   His award presented in Salt Lake City was in recognition of his U.S. Army Combat Art, painted while serving in two wars, Vietnam and Desert Storm, and for his Bicentennial of the Constitution Patriotic Art produced over the years

Thomas continues to produce new U.S. Army commissioned works, Native American Indian, Horse Soldier, wildlife and commissioned LDS historical & inspirational canvas paintings and art prints.  Now past 76 years age, dawn hours still see him "pushing paints" on large canvas surfaces in his Wildgoose Creek Studio, in a barn loft, in the tiny mountain town of Holden, Utah.

How To Order

All orders are handled over the phone by calling Frank directly at cell:1-435-406-9526

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