Every painting tells a story

Working in an art museum allows me to plumb the depths of the collection in a way that would be difficult, if not impractical, for most visitors. While we certainly encourage visitors to pursue their own academic interests arising from what they’ve seen (the Barnes’ art library is free and open to the public during business hours), sometimes the artwork Dr. Barnes collected is fascinating for the stories behind it, rather than the work’s formal qualities. Such is the case with a painting that can be seen in Gallery 23, by Tilly Losch. It’s a fun story to tell, and I’ve chosen to turn it into a Prezi presentation which you can view below. 

This is a rough draft— the real story is so much more detailed than appropriate for a short Prezi— and I haven’t yet drawn up the bibliography which I intend to do, but art geeks should get a kick out of this. 

Best watched in full screen mode. Advance at your own pace by using your keyboard’s arrow keys, or the onscreen arrows. 

When Bad Things Happen To Good Museums

from the Pre-Raphelite collection at the Delaware Museum of Art

What does it say about our supposedly great and civilized society that in the midst of economic recession, the government bails out mega-banks (and their CEOs and shareholders reap the rewards) while our venerable cultural institutions—public art museums— are forced to consider selling off chunks of their collections in order to keep the doors open? Continue reading

Ellsworth Kelly at the Barnes Foundation

Ellsworth Kelly in front of 'Sculpture for a large wall' at the Barnes Foundation. (Emma Lee/Newsworks) One of the best perks about working at a cultural institution like the Barnes Foundation is that occasionally I get to do something really cool. Usually, it’s something like visit the conservation lab to see what masterpiece is being saved from certain doom by the dedicated team of conservators, or listen to a guest lecture for staff only, from scientists who have been studying the pigments Continue reading

InLiquid Benefit v. Thirteen

Last night I attended the 13th annual InLiquid Silent Auction Benefit at the Crane Arts building’s Icebox space. Although with more felt fedoras, bow-ties and ironic mustaches in attendance than was strictly necessary (seriously, it was like a Hipster factory exploded), it was a fun evening hob-nobbing with fellow Philly artists and collectors.

InLiquid Benefit 2013

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Sculpture by Louise Nevelson at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Photo © 2012 J. Thomson


Stolen. Photo © 2012 J. Thomson

Beech Hedge Drawing (1998)



Beech Hedge at Hospitalfield House. 13" x 17", oil pastel, soft pastel and charcoal on watercolor paper. © 1998-2012 J. Thomson

Beech Hedge at Hospitalfield House. 13″ x 17″, oil pastel, soft pastel and charcoal on watercolor paper. © 1998-2012 J. Thomson

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Untitled Drawing #1 (1998)


Untitled drawing #1, 1998 © J. Thomson Here is another untitled “automatic” drawing I made when I lived in Scotland in 1998 that I found today while organizing my studio. It’s approximately 5″ x 7″, and I probably intended it to be a postcard, but I never sent it to anyone.

I’ve posted this drawing on my Zazzle site, where you can buy high-quality reproductions.

Untitled Drawing #2 (1998)


Untitled drawing #2 (1998) © J. Thomson I found this drawing (and one other, shown in the next post) today in my archives while organizing the studio. It’s one of a small series of drawings I made the year I lived in Scotland. I remember making this drawing sitting in my studio at the top of the tower at Hospitalfield, around April I think. The sky was bright but overcast, and evidence of spring was all around.

These abstract drawings were made in the same manner as automatic writing… I just started drawing without any pre-conceived notion (except for colors, of course) of what form would appear. It was a very meditative thing to do, and doing it seemed to calm me down from some of the frustrations I had while living there.

I’ve posted this drawing on my Zazzle site, where you can purchase high-quality reproductions of it.

Trailer Trash Toile – Voting NOW OPEN!

The polling place is NOW OPEN! Spoonflower’s weekly contest is up, and I am one of 82 artists competing in this week’s “Your Town Toile” contest. (By comparison, last week’s bicycle design contest yielded over 200 entries).

Polls close on March 7th. You can vote for as many entries as you like (but please vote for mine, pictured below). VOTE NOW.


Trailer Trash Toile by J. Thomson © 2012 All rights reserved. Available at http://www.spoonflower.com/collections/14219 Continue reading