The 2013 U.S. Women’s Open is under way at Sebonack Golf Club, and as 156 of the world’s top professional and amateur female golfers have descended upon the East End, there is one woman who lives here who may have the most Open experience of all. But she’s not a player.
Elaine Faith Thompson was the commissioned artist for this year’s U.S. Open’s poster. She also designed the 2004 U.S. Open poster for Shinnecock, the 2006 poster for Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck and the 2009 poster for the Black Course at Bethpage.
“It wasn’t an automatic thing,” Ms. Thompson said of being chosen again this year. “I had to submit many designs and compete with other artists.”She did have a natural advantage over other submitting artists, though, she said. The painter has 20/15 vision—better than 20/20—which gives her the ability to see more details than the average person, she reported.
It shows in her work. A fine paint brush is marked as a “0,” she said. She uses an 18-0, which is 18 times finer, allowing for intricate detail.
“When you look at the painting real close you’ll be able to see the tables at the terrace ready for a catering event,” the artist said. “You can see the sparkle of the metal on the chaffing dishes.”
Ms. Thompson, who was trained as an illustrator, reported that in her artwork for this year’s Open, the lettering on the trophy is hand painted. As a result, the plaque on the trophy looks like a photograph, she reported.
The concept took a year to create. The painting itself took four months to complete.
As a child, Ms. Thompson first had access to crayons and paint at age 5 when she went to kindergarten. Art immediately came naturally to her. She learned drawing in perspective from the artist John Gnagy, while watching his television program. She later sold her first piece of commercial art at age 15. It was an illustration for the brochure of the Cenacle Sisters Retreat & Prayer Enrollment Center in Ronkonkoma.
After graduating from high school, Ms. Thompson attended Farmingdale State University, a SUNY school, and completed an associate degree in Advertising Art and Design. Since, she has been commissioned for many government graphics projects, including New York State’s first “STOP DWI” campaign, the first recycling campaign in the country and the official Vietnam Veterans Memorial poster in Washington, D.C.
Presently Ms. Thompson works solely with oil paints, depicting scenes on Long Island. She lives in Bohemia, and spends every other weekend at her best friend Lois Walther’s house on Shelter Island.
Her two most successful and popular paintings to date are of the Montauk Lighthouse, and the Big Duck in Flanders, which has been emblazoned on a Southampton Town bus and on the flag flying over the tourist attraction. Customers often tell her that her paintings cheer them up, the artist reported.
“I paint mostly local scenes and scenes that people can relate to,” she explained.
But she is not just the painter. For the Open poster, the 70-year-old also handled the printing and the packaging, as well as the merchandising and marketing, sitting under merchandising tent throughout the tournament.
“It keeps me young, all this work,” she said, laughing.
An exhibit of Elaine Faith Thompson’s posters is on view at Southampton Town Hall through August 1. For more information on the exhibit call 589-0069 or visit thompsonart.us.