Art-Making Activity: Layered Collage Inspired by Alma Thomas

Alma W. Thomas (1891–1978), Dogwood Display II, 1972, Acrylic on canvas, Gift of Elizabeth R. French, 2000.23 © Alma Thomas

In celebration of Women’s History Month, people of all ages can enjoy this art project inspired by Dogwood Display II, a painting by artist Alma Thomas.

Alma Thomas achieved notoriety as an artist in her 70’s after working for many years as an art teacher at a public school in New Jersey. Inspired by the fall of light on trees and her flower garden, Thomas developed a personalized style of bold geometry and bright colors that creates a sense of movement and vibration.


  • Thick white paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Watercolor paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Water
  • Assorted recycled colored paper such as magazines, wrapping paper, construction paper

(1) Create a colorful, abstract background inspired by your environment. Squint your eyes and look around. What colors do you see? Use these colors to fill your entire sheet of paper with watercolor paint.

(2) While your paint is drying, look through your recycled paper for colors that will enhance your painting.

(3) Cut out assorted shapes in the selected colors.

(4) When the paint is dry, glue the cut paper on top of the painting in a pattern or design.