How-to: Activity

How to: Paint like Alma Thomas

Alma Woodsey Thomas was an African-American artist and teacher who lived and worked in Washington‭, ‬D.C‭., ‬and is now recognized as a major American painter of the 20th Century‭. ‬She used broad‭, ‬mosaic-like patches of vibrant colors applied in concentric circles or vertical stripes‭.‬

You will need:

  • Various colored papers cut into squares
  • Tempera paint
  • Brushes (flat brush works best)
Color painting example, How to paint like Alma Thomas, completed

1. Decide if the painting is going to be vertical stripes or concentric circles or squares. If it’s going to be a circle or square, make a small circle or square right in the middle of the square piece of paper in any color.

Teachers: Making a small dot in the center of the paper could help the student a lot!

Drawing - How To paint like Alma Thomas, step #1

2. On the circle or square choose a different color to make small square/rectangles, as a band of tiles all around your center color. Make sure to leave space between each tile so the paper shows through for full the mosaic look. Choose a second color, again, wrapping the same size tiles around your first band of color. Make sure to leave space between each tile. Repeat bands of various colors making the circle or square bigger until you reach the edges of the paper. Don’t forget the color white!.

Drawing - How To paint like Alma Thomas, step #2

3. If you choose to do vertical stripes again choose any color to start on one side making vertical squares/rectangles in a line down one side of the paper. Make sure to leave some space between the tiles. Choose any second color and repeat right next to your first stripe of color. Repeat tiles of various colors until you reach the opposite edge of the paper. Attention to detail and taking care to keep your lines and tiles consistant is important with this project. It might help to keep rotating the paper around as you are painting.

Drawing - How To paint like Alma Thomas, step #3