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Let’s Look

  • What shapes can you find? What do they remind you of? Which ones are repeated?
  • Is this painting symmetrical? Where is the open space? How are shapes on the left side different from the shapes on the right side?
  • Are they moving? If yes, how? (Think of verbs and adverbs.) How does the composition change if the painting is upside down or on its side?
  • How bid do you think this painting is? How would it change if it were very small?
  • What qualities or memories does this color blue have for you? Why did Alma Thomas use only blue and white?
  • Was Thomas looking at hydrangea flowers when she created this painting? Why do you think she painted them in an abstract style rather than realistically?

Hydrangeas Spring Song and Haiku

Hydrangeas Spring Song
Hydrangeas Spring Song, 1976
Alma Thomas, American
Acrylic on canvas
78 x 48 inches (198.1 x 121.9 cm)
125th Anniversary Acquisition. Purchased with funds contributed by Mr. and Mrs. Julius Rosenwald II in honor of René and Sarah Carr d'Harnoncourt, The Judith Rothschild Foundation, and with other funds being raised in honor of the 125th Anniversary of the Museum and in celebration of African American art, 2002
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Haiku poems describe a single moment in nature. A traditional haiku poem written in Japanese must contain exactly seventeen syllables—the first line contains five, the second line seven, and the third line five. Most Japanese words have more syllables than English words. You can use the traditional format or fewer syllables to capture the simplicity and freshness of your subject.

Like haiku poets in Japan, Alma Thomas was inspired by nature and the seasons when she made this large abstract painting. It is filled with space and simple shapes based on hydrangea flowers and leaves blooming in the spring. Write your own haiku poem below about Hydrangeas Spring Song, or about something you have observed in nature during a specific season.


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