. Noel Thomas | watercolors


Photo: Michael Mathers


Artist's Statement

Iíve been sketching and painting for the better part of 86 years. I say better part because drawing or painting is when I feel most alive. I am happiest, most at peace, with pencil, pen or brush in hand. The chatter of the world goes away. Over the years Iíve become committed to drawing or painting every day, free of the need, or even desire, to make each attempt a frameable piece. Some may call this an obsession, but for me it is my reason--in my so-called retirement years--to get up in the morning. It is what I do, and love to do.

I paint because Iím excited by what is around meóthe endless subject matter here on the Columbia river, along the roads, in my studio. The effects of time and the elements are what I like to exploreóon ships, buildings, the sink in my studio which used to be a dentistís office. Everything has a story.

Much of my work is done en plein air or, on location, whether it be indoors or out, subject to the changing light, weather, even bugs. I find being with the subject is both exciting and challenging. The most common problem is when the subject leaves too soon, whether it be a person finishing their coffee and packing up, or a boat heading out from the dock.

It was Monet, I believe, who said that after finishing a painting all you have to do is turn your head to find another composition. Astoria and the surrounding area is like that for me. It offers an endless variety of evolving subject matter. Subject matter includes not simply the ďthing,Ē but the people and events surrounding itóthe heart and soul of even the smallest component. As I see it, Iíll run out of time before I run out of subjects to paint.


Since 1990, Noel Thomas has been painting watercolors out of his Astoria, OR studio. Born in Longview, WA, Thomas studied watercolor and graduated with distinction from Los Angeles Art Center College. He went on to pursue a 15-year career in advertising art in New York and Los Angeles. Returning to the Northwest in 1974, Thomas and his wife Pat began a business of creating aged miniature houses for collectors and museums. Thomas’s watercolors can be seen at the Riversea Gallery in Astoria.

1961 Graduated with Distinction from Art Center School of Design, Los Angeles.

Professional Achievement, Awards:
2008: NWWS Open Exhibition, First Place Award for "Chris' News"
2007: NWWS Open Exhibition, Golden Artist Color Award
2006: NWWS Open Exhibition
2005: NW Watercolor Society Waterworks Exhibit
2004: NW Watercolor Society Waterworks Exhibit: Bellevue Art & Frame Award
2002: American Watercolor Society Int’l. Exhibition, New York, NY
2002: NW Watercolor Society Open Exhibition: Winsor & Newton Painting Award
2001: Signature Member, American Watercolor Society
2001: American Watercolor Society Int’l. Exhibition, New York, NY
2000: American Watercolor Society Int’l. Exhibition, New York, NY
2000: Salmagundi Club Exhibition, New York, NY
1998: American Watercolor Society Int’l. Exhibition, New York, NY
1998: Int’l. Guild of Miniature Artisans Crystal Award for lifetime achievement
1997: Salmagundi Club Non-Member Exhibition, New York, NY
1997: NWWS Open Exhibition: Signature Member
1996: NW Watercolor Society Members’ Show: Honorable mention
1996: Publication of “Cranberry Bogs,” in Splash 4, North Light Books (11/96)
1994: NW Watercolor Society Open Exhibition: award winner
1993: NW Watercolor Society Members’ Show
1988: Fellow: International Guild of Miniature Artisans
1977: Academy of Honor: National Association of Miniature Enthusiasts
1974: Started business Open House:1/12 scale miniature architecture
1973: CLIO award: art direction
1973: Art Direction award: Art Directors’ Club of Los Angeles
1972-74: Art Director: Needham, Harper & Steers Advertising, Los Angeles
1967: ANDY award: Advertising Writers’ Club of New York
1965-66: Award for art direction: Art Directors’ Club of New York
Award for art direction: Art Direction magazine
1962-70: Art Director: Doyle, Dane, Bernbach, Jack Tinker & Partners, NY
1961: Art Director: General Motors, Detroit

1998-present: RiverSea Gallery, Astoria, OR
1997 Ricciardi Gallery, Astoria, OR: one-man show
1996 Buckley Center Gallery, Univ. of Portland, Portland, OR: one-man show
1995-present: McGrath Dunham Gallery, Castine, ME
1993-1997: represented by Ricciardi Gallery
1990: Wiegardt Gallery, Ocean Park, WA: one-man show

Buildings, and watercolors. All work in private collections and museums. Workshops taught at locations throughout the US. Information at www.thomasopenhouse.com.