For our next ‘Inspired By’ artist, we are going back in time. Alma Thomas, born in 1891, is most notable for her colorful, abstract works and her role for women, African Americans, and older artists. She continues to inspire artists of all ages even after her death over 20 years ago.
Thomas first studied abstract art during her time at Howard University, but it wouldn’t be until she retired from teaching in her 70s when her career as a professional artist would be recognized. Her determination, specifically in her later years, is one of the many reasons she has been a constant to artists.
Alma’s work is colorful, large, and dense. From her work in Color Field to Pointillism, her irregular patterns of bright colors translated art historical references and personal aesthetic through simplicity and structure. Alma once said, "The use of color in my paintings is of paramount importance to me. Through color I have sought to concentrate on beauty and happiness in my painting rather than on man's inhumanity to man.” Alma’s dedicated to finding the beauty, especially during such a trying time for the African American community, gives me aspiration to continue to find beauty in my life - even when things seem most dark.
Another aspect of her work that inspires us is her dedication to “mistakes.” Thomas was known to paint in her small living room, sans-masking tape and pencil erasers. Her pencil marks are obvious in many of her finished works and conveys the notion of embracing the whole process, drafts and all. No matter the stage of her works, she allows the natural beauty of her process to seep through.