The Illusive Dimension of Color

Peyton Wright Gallery is pleased to present The Illusive Dimension of Color, an exhibition of color field paintings by Donald Roy Thompson. The exhibition runs September 7 through October 3. There is an opening reception on Friday, September 7 from 5-7pm.

Donald Roy Thompson began this series of color field paintings in the late 1960s. He later moved to large shaped canvases and other styles. It was during a move from the Northwest to Santa Fe a few years ago that he rediscovered this body of work. With new inspiration he returned to the series, and since that time has produced a remarkable series of paintings that he calls the “Echo Series.”

Donald Roy Thompson’s journey as an artist has been a long one. It began in California, where he studied with Wayne Thiebaud at Sacramento Junior College. Later he exhibited works in galleries in San Francisco, Sacramento, Oakland, San Jose, as well as Ibiza, Spain and New York City, as well as other international competitions. He is an artist who has prevailed through many life’s experience but never lost his focus. Even as he taught in the Art Department of a Santa Cruz Community College until retirement and supported a family, his output of work rarely diminished. He kept at it even when there were many years in between gallery exhibitions. His work is included in several museum collections, including Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, Ca.; Oakland Museum of California, Oakland, CA, and the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History, Santa Cruz, CA.

Watch an interview with Donald Roy Thompson with art historian Kathryn Davis

View the exhibition catalogue

About the Artist
Donald Roy Thompson was born in 1936, in Fowler, California. He received his B.A. and M.A. degrees from Sacramento State University in 1960 and 1962, respectively. His most notable art instructor was Wayne Thiebaud. Among his classmates were Fritz Scholder and Merrill Mahaffey, both successful artists in Santa Fe.

From 1964-2000 Donald was an art instructor at Cabrillo College in Aptos, California. Before he settled down to teach, Donald traveled and lived in Mexico City, where he was able to observe closely the murals of Diego Rivera.

Like so many color field painters of his generation, Thompson was influenced by Johannes Itten and Josef Albers, as well as by Matisse and Mondrian.

During an impoverished time in his early art career he was unable to afford good quality paint, so instead he used layers of hand-dyed cheesecloth for a large installation at the Cabrillo College Gallery. It helped form the basis of the ideas of transparency that he later produced in his acrylic color field paintings of 1971-75.

In 1972 Donald began again to use opaque colors on various sizes of canvas, focusing on the illusion of transparency.

By 1974 he began to feel the need for greater physicality and began to employ the use of stretched canvases of a single color bolted together, from large to huge (7.5’ X 10’), now in the Oakland Museum.

In 2013 Thompson settled in Santa Fe. There he began his current series of work, rekindling an aesthetic from four decades previous.

He continues to refine his approach and vision.

“I am habitually focused on the relationship of colors!” he wrote in July of 2022. “I’ve tried, in my paintings during the recent past, to experiment with various forms of pictorial composition - both symmetrical and asymmetrical.

My current challenge is combining the geometric with curvilinear form in an effort to achieve an integrated synthesis of the two, as they are experienced in hard-edge color painting. “

Thompson has exhibited solo and group shows both nationally and internationally. These include solo shows at Larry Evans/Willis Gallery, Foster Goldstrom, and Galeria Carl Van der Voort in San Francisco, and Ibiza, Spain. He had solo shows at Frederick Spratt Gallery in San Jose, California, as well as Shasta College Gallery in Redding, California and Cabrillo College in Aptos, California. His group shows include Leila Taghinia-Milani, New York City, Basel Art Fair, Switzerland and the Second British International Print Biennale, Yorkshire, England.

Thompson’s paintings are found in major collections including The Oakland Museum, Oakland, CA.; Seattle First National Bank (Seafirst), Seattle, WA; Crocker Museum, Sacramento, CA, Art Museum of Santa Cruz County, Santa Cruz, CA.

Watch an interview with Donald Roy Thompson with art historian Kathryn Davis

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