Colors of Earth: A Closer Look

“We artists are put on God’s good earth to create. Some of us may be black, but that’s not the important thing. The important thing is for us to create, to give form to what we have inside of us. We can’t accept any barriers, any limitations of any kind, on what we create or how we do it.” 

—Alma Thomas

Tiptoe Through the Tulips

Alma Thomas, Tiptoe Through the Tulips, 1969, acrylic on canvas, 50 x 48 inches, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Drawing from the flowers in springtime, Alma Thomas’s “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” captures her signature style, inspiration, and use of color. It’s vibrant springtime colors bring a sense of joy and positive energy, creating a sense of ease and peace in the viewer. Her use of stripes in the image, coined by Thomas herself as “Alma’s stripes,” recalls the rows of bright pinks, purples, and yellows flowers that dot the Rowhomes, parks, and riversides of DC in the spring and summer. This painting captures her mission “… through my impressions of nature … I hoped to impart beauty, joy, love, and peace.”


Louis Delsarte, Family, 2006, oil on canvas, Atlanta University Center Robert W. Woodruff Library Permanent Art Collection

Similar in his use of abstraction, color, and inspiration from nature, Louis Delsarte’s “Family” draws the same sense of beauty and positive energy as Alma Thomas’s works. Like Thomas, Delsarte’s work, especially in abstractions, “relate to light and space” however, unlike Thomas, his works “often depicts African American themes.” While the two differ in subject matter, the two have quite a similar artistic philosophy. Delsarte notes “I try to work toward peace, to say that art is the meaning of love, that living on earth is a spiritual quest,” he says. “I try to elevate the spirit of man and the spirit of humanity.”

Colors of Earth: A Closer Look