“Fowl Play” is a whimsical collection of her paintings and etchings, representing birds in various situations and settings. Visitors can meet the artist at the opening reception on the First Friday, Sept. 5 from 5 to 8 p.m.
Thomas works mainly in intaglio etchings and acrylic paintings, often incorporating mixed media. Intaglio (in-TAL-ee-oh), called etching, one of the printmaking techniques in which the drawing is incised into a plate, usually of copper or zinc.
The plate is covered in an acid-resistant, waxy substance. Then the drawing is incised with an etching needle or other tool which exposes the metal surface.
The plate is placed in an acid bath which eats into the exposed metal not covered with the resist. After the acid has “bitten” into the plate it is then cleaned of the resist and prints can be made.
Printing ink is rubbed into the etched areas then the surface of the plate is wiped clean leaving the ink in the recessed, etched areas.
The paper to be printed is soaked in water then will be run through a press with the inked plate under great pressure to force the ink into the damp paper.
“I used crows in my intaglio etching, ‘Crows in the Apple Tree.’ The design quality of my work is planned through several sketches before I begin working on a plate, developing contrasting textures with a range of line quality. As in ‘Crows in the Apple Tree,’ I often hand color the final print to create interest, increase eye movement and emphasis.”
Giving animals human-like characteristics has been part of the tradition of children’s books for years. Thomas’ works give viewers of all ages insight into what could be the thoughts of a well-bred Arabian horse who knows his worth. “Hare in The Sink” is the title of an etching of hares cavorting in a sink.
“I’m not interested in photo-realism, there are those who do it much better than I, and with a whole lot more patience,” says Thomas. “I use photos as a starting point and I find birds an interesting subject because they reflect so many human characteristics. They are graceful, awkward, curious, quirky, elegant and raucous. My acrylic painting, ‘Fleece Harassment,’ depicts ravens lighting on a resting sheep.
This isn’t an unusual sight in rural European areas where livestock live together in barns and pens. The painting is simplistic in composition and contrasts the textural qualities of the sheep and ravens with the elegant darkness of the background. I use layers of glazing to create depth and texture in my works. Ravens and crows are favorites of mine; clever little thieves, pushy and loud-mouthed.”
Thomas says she enjoys working in both etching and acrylic media, feeling that etchings are smaller and intimate but when she feels the work getting too precise and tight she picks up a brush and canvas and the work becomes loose and fluid.
Thomas’ route to her unique viewpoint and expression is the result of a love for animals which abound in the area in which she lives, including deer and wild turkeys; and a pair of broad-winged hawks is nesting in a tree in the backyard.
One of the defining periods of her life was the eight years she lived in Saudi Arabia.
This mother of four taught at a private school in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, the Chattanooga School system and Chattanooga Christian School. She was education program coordinator and then the education curator at the Hunter Museum before returning to teaching.
While in Saudi Arabia, she became interested in falconry and did a series of watercolors which are owned by the Royal Saud family.
This summer she was in Ireland and participated in a falcon hunt. With a love of travel she has been in 35 different countries and loves to arrange artist trips.
In-Town Gallery, founded in 1974, is celebrating its 40th Anniversary this year and is one of the oldest cooperative galleries in the nation.
The gallery is open every day year-round except major holidays. Hours are 11a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday; and until 8 p.m. on First Fridays.
Call 423-267-9214, or visit www.intowngallery.com or www.facebook.com/intowngallery for more information.