Throughout our lives, we encounter people who change our lives for the better. People who open our eyes to new possibilities and experiences. For me, that person is Lauren Thomas. Thomas is a 17-year-old from Florida who is a creative genius. Her paintings are comparable to some of the greatest pieces of art in history. With each stroke of her brush, she opens up a new world of creativity. Yet, not only is Thomas a creative genius, she is one of the most inspiring and warmest people I have ever met. She is full of drive and compassion for those around her, which you can see reflected in her work. She is also a fierce athlete and designer at her high school with her loyalty to cross country, track & field and the yearbook team. Lauren Thomas is truly a modern day Renaissance woman and one to watch for in the future. Get ready to fall in love with one of the greatest painters of our generation and also one of the most remarkable people I have ever known.
How did you first get into painting?
I first started painting on a regular basis my sophomore year. I’ve always been on the artistic side since I was very little, but I strayed away from any type of art for a while just because my life started to pick up pace. But I eventually found peace and a type of stress reliever in my painting, so now I at least paint once a week.
What are your favorite things to paint?
I personally love portraits and adding my own sort of twist to it. I like to be able to tell the story of whoever I’m painting both with their realistic facial features and with corresponding colors and outlines, etc.
What do you mainly seek inspiration from?
I mainly seek inspiration from really anything. I’m a true believer in taking on what you see around you and using it to your advantage. Of course, I look at other artists as well for inspiration, artists such as Frida or Yayoi Kusama.
How would you describe your aesthetic?
Oh boy. I’ve always struggled with describing my aesthetic. For the most part, I love clean cut things with a burst of color. I don’t know how else to describe it honestly.
As a woman of color, do you try to feature that aspect of your life into your artwork?
I do actually. A majority of the portraits I choose to paint are women of color. I love being a woman of color and I loving painting women of color because honestly, we’re amazing. One thing I love to do when I paint women of color is add gold paint to the skin color paint that I’ve whipped up bc honestly every woman of color is a glowing beam of light in their own way.
Do you ever base your art off of what’s going on at around you, such as pop culture or the political climate?
I can’t say I’ve built my art around anything political or pop culture. I do sometimes incorporate my emotions into my art. Like if I’m stressed out or feeling super overwhelmed I’ll incorporate it into my art to kind of get it out
Who are your inspirations?
I’d say my biggest inspirations are Frida Kahlo, Yayoi Kusama, of course, Van Gogh and Picasso, Keith Haring, Iona Rozeal Brown, and Jean-Michel Basquiat
What are your hobbies?
My hobbies would probably include painting obviously, but I also take pictures every once in a while, and I’m also involved in digital design since I’m the design editor for my high school yearbook staff.
As an upcoming senior in high school, how do you juggle your school work, sports and art?
It’s tough especially during cross country and track season just because I go straight from my college classes to high school to practice and then sometimes back to college and then straight home. So it’s hard to find time to actually sit down and let my creative juices flow. But over this past track season, I’ve found that waking up earlier and actually painting in the morning before I do anything else has not only helped calm me but also helps me get everything done that I actually want to get done.
What kind of activities do you do besides your painting?
As I mentioned before I’m the design editor for my high school yearbook staff, uhspress, so I spend a lot of my time not only making the layouts for the book and finding the creative elements we want to incorporate but I also push my own boundaries and knowledge with digital design and try to find new and better ways to make our yearbook something that’s fresh and that no one has seen before.
As a woman of color yourself, why do you believe it is so important for young girls to see themselves portrayed in art?
As a little girl, I remember never seeing anyone that look like me portrayed in the real world or in society. It was hard to look around and feel like I fit in because I never really had anyone that looked like me to look up to or learn from. That’s why when I see POC flourishing in today’s society considering the situations we face it warms my heart because I know that there’s little girls and boys who are seeing us and believing in themselves. If I ever make it somewhat big as an artist I plan to stick to my roots and hopefully become an example for the young people in society.
What do you hope to accomplish with your artwork?
Like I said, I hope to be an example. I know that it’s extremely hard to make it big as an artist and it’s not always the easiest lifestyle. But I hope I love my life and create art in such a way that the younger generations will look to me as a mentor or as inspiration. I want to show the younger generation that although a path may be difficult, you can flourish and grow in any choice you make as long as you choose it because it’s what you love.
Lastly, what advice would you give to someone who is just starting to develop their art skills and wants to pursue an art career?
Don’t let the stereotypical comments of society get in the way of what you love. Yes being an artist is tough, but as long as your passionate and love what you’re doing you’ll flourish. In a world like ours, it’s so important to actually love what you’re doing.