By JEFF CLEMETSON
San Carlos artist Carol Thomason has been recognized and honored by local, regional and national watercolor societies for many years. But in April, she achieved honors from the “oldest and most prestigious water color society in America” — the American Watercolor Society (AWS).
“It is something that we artists strive for — to be a part of this exhibit,” she said of her award-winning painting “APPLE.COM,” which was displayed in a New York City AWS exhibit April 12–30.
“The big thing is that I was given signature status — it’s a big award — so I can sign my name ‘Carol Thomason AWS’ if I would like. That’s big time,” she said, adding that the distinction increases the value of her paintings.
“APPLE.COM” is a painting from Thomason’s signature series “Lines of Communication,” an evolving series of mixed-medium watercolors focused around technology.
Thomason began her art journey in college where she majored in Art History as an undergrad at UC Santa Barbara. Her initial goal was to become an art teacher and she earned a credential at Cal State San Luis Obispo before going off to the University of Michigan to work on a Masters in Art History, which she said she never completed but is “very close” to finishing.
While in Ann Arbor, Thomason decided to pursue creating art rather than just discussing it. She said she started with stained glass, but found it “too constrained” for her liking. She then began a decades-long study of figure drawing.
“I did that for many years, then I thought maybe I can be a painter so I tried a bit of that with the watercolor society in San Diego,” she said, adding that her style she developed over time involved experimenting with various pigments of watercolor such as acrylics, which gives her work a more opaque look than the transparent wash most associated with watercolor painting. Thomason’s art also evolved in other ways.
“I used to paint realism for years and years and then there was a point where I would do some realism and some contemporary,” she said. “Because I have the art history background, I have seen it all — cave painting to contemporary. And I like a lot of that contemporary stuff, it’s more abstract, non-objective.”
She began her “Lines of Communication” series in 1999 to express artistically her impressions of the “new ways of communicating” that were emerging through the internet, cell phones and computers.
“That seemed to me to be best expressed in a non-objective manner, so I started out and I named one of my paintings ‘Lines of Communication.’ That was my very first painting in this series, more than 20 years ago,” she said.
There are now over 290 paintings in the series, inspired by individuals, organizations and companies responsible for modern technological advancements.
“This month, my painting at the [San Diego] water color society is ‘PETCO.COM,’” she said. “And I can’t wait to do more stuff about Space X. I’ve done five paintings about Elon Musk’s company Space X and I did one painting several years ago about Tesla.”
Besides big tech companies and their big CEO personalities that make news headlines with their latest inventions, Thomason also finds inspiration for paintings from her home life. For example, the painting “PETCO.COM” was inspired by her daughter’s cat Tiger; and another, “www.MATCH.COM,” was inspired by the online dating service where her daughter met her son-in-law. Some of her paintings are also inspired by purely economic circumstance.
“Because I am an investor, my stock research interests feed my painting titles,” she said.
Although she doesn’t leave out the idea of painting other topics, Thomason still finds her “Lines of Communication” series to be what intrigues her most.
“When I grew up, none of us knew anything about the internet, cell phones and computers. We had typewriters, telephones and television. Then came the revolution in communication,” she said. “I have watched, invested, and painted with rapt awe and amazement as we have hurtled ourselves forward with one far-reaching communication advancement after the other.”
— Reach editor Jeff Clemetson at firstname.lastname@example.org.