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Art Tales Activity: Alma Thomas
Create a Color Square!

Alma Thomas, Pansies in Washington, 1969

Alma Thomas, Pansies in Washington, 1969, acrylic on canvas, Corcoran Collection (Gift of Vincent Melzac), 2015.19.144

Alma Thomas loved to explore color—which she did as an artist and art teacher in Washington, DC, public schools for over 35 years. Many of her paintings include only one color or a few colors. Her paintings show her love of nature and music.

Alma Thomas painted at her kitchen table, which had a view out to her garden to inspire her color choices and brushstroke shapes. She painted from her imagination, too. In some of her paintings she imagined what Earth might look like from space—inspired by the Apollo moon landings she viewed from her television screen.

Create a Color Square

Try your hand at making some art of your own! This video will show you how to make small blocks of color, like artist Alma Thomas, that together build a larger work of art. Think like an artist by experimenting as you create new marks and patterns.


Gather your art supplies. 

You will need:

  • Paint sticks or other coloring materials such as colored pencils, crayons, markers
  • Heavyweight paper or scrap paper cut into 3 × 3–inch squares

Choose one color. Use it to make different shapes and lines within your paper square. Use just one color, like Alma Thomas did, to make small blocks of color that build a larger painting. Try experimenting—turn the square or hold your coloring material differently—to create new marks and patterns! With a friend or a group, try combining your color squares in different ways to make one larger, multicolored square.

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