During the 1960s, Alma Thomas emerged as an
exuberant colorist, abstracting shapes and patterns from the trees
and flowers around her. Her new palette and
technique—considerably lighter and looser than in her earlier
representational works and dark abstractions—reflected her long
study of color theory and the watercolor medium.
Alma Thomas (1891-1978) was inspired by the
garden outside her home in Washington, DC, and painted images that
suggest light flickering through leaves and petals, a colorful
abstract mosaic. She used dabs and strokes of paint to express
the new colors she saw through the window whenever the plants moved
in the wind.
She was a colorist; she drew her inspiration
from her garden, her flower box, and nature. Her style was
controlled and refined, her brushwork heavy. “Color is life,”
Thomas said in 1979 in Women Artists in Washington Collections.
“Light reveals to us the spirit and living soul of the world through
As an artist who began her “serious painting”
at the age of 70 and had her first major exhibition at age 80,
Thomas’s work reflected a lifetime in art. She was an art
teacher for 35 years and studied and assimilated the styles of
artists she admired, merging them with her own profoundly
Her work is in the collections of the
Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art
(both in New York), as well as The Phillips Collection, National
Gallery of Art, the Corcoran, National Museum of American Art of the
Smithsonian Institution, and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture
museums in Washington, DC; Columbus Museum, Georgia; Fort Wayne
Museum, Indiana, and the New Jersey State Museum, Trenton.