Stay Home Art Challenge:  Alma Thomas Abstract Circles

Alma Thomas was born in Columbus, Georgia in 1891 and moved to Washing D.C. at a young age. She loved art and was inspired by her aunts, who were teachers, so she worked as a kindergarten and middle school art teacher for 38 years. When she retired, she pursued art full time as an Expressionist painter. In the 1960's she developed the art she is most known for, mosaic-like patches of vibrant color applied in concentric circles or vertical stripes. These abstract and nonobjective paintings are based on the ever-changing patterns that light creates as it passes through trees and flowers. Thomas was in her 80's when she produced her most important works and she is the first African American female artist to be part of the permanent art collection at the White House. Her life is amazing and dear and a testimony that you are never too old to see the world in a new light!

Todays Challenge: create an abstract circle like Alma. You will need paper or a canvas, a pencil, paints in bright colors (watercolor, acrylic or finger paints), a medium or small flat paintbrush, a palette for your paints, paper towels and water to clean your brush. Before you begin, think of something you would like to base your circle on, a rainbow, a feeling, a person, a place, this will help you pick your colors and the order of your colors. Start off by drawing concentric circles, this will look a lot like a target. In each ring of your painting you will use a different color. Color the center circle all one color. In the rings, apply paint in short strokes following the lines of the circle. (Look at Alma's painting and follow her technique.) Don't worry if it's not exact, just give it a try and have fun! 

We would love to see your work. Please send us a picture of your  Abstract Circles through our email at by 7:00pm on Friday, June 12th and we will share your work with our MCAC community. 

Alma Thomas artwork at the White House with President Obama giving Alma the seat of honor at the head of the table.

1 photo(s) Updated on: June 12, 2020
  • Jennifer Booker-Smith
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