Tom Perkinson was born in Indianapolis, Indiana in 1940. He was raised in the country, and developed a love for the natural landscape. He discovered that he had a talent for art while in elementary school. Art quickly became his chosen passion. During high school he studied at John Herron Institute of Art in Indianapolis. After high school, he studied at the Chicago Academy of Art.
He left Indiana to pursue an undergraduate degree in Oklahoma. Each year while attending the university, he was invited to stage an annual exhibit of his work. His early work focused on the landscape, but also included still lifes and city scenes. At that time, his favorite artists were the early American painters, like Homer, Sergeant, William Merrit Chase, Potthast, and the painters of the Boston School. Particularly influential to him were the early painters of southern Indiana who painted the landscape in which he grew up; painters like T. C. Steele, Vawter, Schultze, and Forsythe.
After graduating, he moved to New Mexico to pursue his Master’s Degree in Fine Arts at the University of New Mexico. During graduate school, he was creating large-scale works that had a foundation in Surrealism, using detailed and highly rendered images. But he still continued to paint the landscape, which now reflected his new fascination with the southwestern landscape. He found that the drama of light and shadow, and the mystery that characterizes the New Mexico landscape held great appeal to him. He recognized that he had found an infinite source of inspiration in the panorama of the southwest landscape.
He taught art at the University of New Mexico for two years after receiving his Master’s Degree. In 1970, he committed his life to painting full time. His work is included in private and public collections across the globe, and he is represented in the collections of many museums, including the Museum of New Mexico, Santa Fe; the University Art Museum, Albuquerque; and the Eiteljorg Museum of Western Art in Indianapolis. He has lived in Corrales, New Mexico for over twenty years.