February’s artist over on Patreon was Alma Thomas. There’s a lot I like about Alma. As always I started with a little family tree.
Alma was born in Columbus, Georgia but at age 15 she and her family moved to Washington, DC where she lived the rest of her life.
Alma Thomas was the very first fine arts graduate of Howard University. James Vernon Herrings started the art department at Howard and was her teacher/mentor.
Alma was often criticized because she was black and painted abstractly. At the time it was implied that it was an African American artist's responsibility to create works focused on identity and injustice.
Alma felt differently. She said: "I've never bothered painting the ugly things in life." “Through color, I have sought to concentrate on beauty and happiness, rather than on man’s inhumanity to man.”
"I've never bothered painting the ugly things in life. People struggling, having difficulty. You meet that when you go out, and then you have to come back and see the same thing hanging on the wall. No. I wanted something beautiful that you could sit down and look at. All you have to do is put natural light on them. Light is the mother of color, and no place stays the same. Look in that corner. It's dark. Look over here, and you see light."
I borrowed this Alma Thomas book through inter-library loan. (That seems to be the only way to get my hands on books about women artists other than Kahlo and O’Keeffe.) I really liked that in the back of this book they collected up all the interviews with Alma. I like reading what artists have to say in their own words.
One of my goals this year is to create some pieces inspired by the artists I’m studying other than portraits. This one began with a silhouette of Alma. Then the inside went through some major changes along the way. :)
In the end I settled on my own take of a combination of Alma’s circle motif and her space series.