Famous Artists and their Circles 5 : Alma Thomas

Alma Thomas (1891 – 1978 and her painting ‘The Eclipse’ (1970)

You may wish to use this page along with Merry-Go-Round Booklet p.22: I, I, me oh my – cherry pie : Merry-Go-Round booklet

Pies come in many shapes and sizes, but traditionally they are round, a shape that has come to be associated with equality. Equality was the inspiration behind the legend of King Arthur and his famed round table.

The African-American artist Alma Thomas (1891-1978) believed in equality. She said that the creative spirit of someone who paints a picture or sculpts a statue should be recognised independent of gender, race or age – all barriers she had to overcome to gain recognition:

“Through colour, I have sought to concentrate on beauty and happiness, rather than on man’s inhumanity to man.”

Inspired by the natural world and fascinated by space-exploration, she imagined views from up in the air, allowing the landscape to spread over her canvas in small splashes and dots, a technique known as pointillism.

Resurrection (1966)

Many of her designs are radial, starting from the centre with bands colours growing outwards, as the sun radiates heat and light – like this one, chosen by Michelle Obama to hang in the dining room of the White House during Black History Month, 2015.

How does this painting make you feel?




Find out more:



What a Wonderful World – Tim Hopgood







Video: radial design art project (with brief Thomas biography): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uvYVShZ0UZM


Download a pdf version of this page : _Famous Artists and their Circles 5 Alma Thomas

Produced by An Lanntair as part of Full Circle Arts programme.  Funded through the Aspiring Communities Fund with support from the European Social Fund.