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Black History Artist: Alma Woodsey Thomas

This abstract art lesson let my students choose which painting format they wanted to try out — a circular or an vertical stripe one.

By the way, this artist, Alma Woodsey Thomas, developed her signature style—large, abstract paintings filled with patterns of bright colors—in her 70s. She also was the first African American artist to have a show at the famous Whitney museum in New York.


  • Multimedia paper
  • Liquid tempera paint
  • Circle stencil


  1. If students chose to try Ms. Woodsey’s circle painting, they had a stencil to first trace in pencil.
  2. The circle was painted solid with tempera paint.
  3. Dashed lines were painted around the circle until the paper was full.
  4. If students wanted to do the vertical painting, they simply painted dashed lines, free form style.

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