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Thelma Speed Houston Photographed Portrait
Thelma Speed Houston

Thelma Speed Houston 1914 - 2000

Thelma Speed Houston Photo
"As an artist, my desire is
to capture and communicate the Joy, Spirit, and Color of a
few moments in Time."

Thelma Gladys Speed Houston (also listed as Thelma Gladys Speed) was born in the Bronx, and first studied art at New York's Pratt Institute. She became a textile designer for A. Sulka and Company of New York and Paris, and later on a colorist for the St. Andrews Textile Company of New York.

By the 1940's she had relocated to San Diego, California, and produced expressionist watercolors often of the San Diego cityscape. She traveled and painted in other parts of California, spent time on Maui, and enjoyed painting and traveling the world. A true enthusiast, she also taught and was a member of the Laguna Beach Art Association, and is fondly remembered as having painted "a watercolor a day for fifty years."

In March of 2005, an exhibition of her work, was held at the Brooks Gallery, Fairmont State University West Virginia, and in May of 2007, a retrospective was held in Vista, California, co-curated by Ken Jenkins, a stage and screen and television star recently known for his role as Dr.Kelso on the sitcom “Scrubs.” Read more below ...

Source: McClelland, Gordon, California Watercolors 1850 - 1970, An Illustrated History & Biographical Dictionary, 2002.
Houston Thelma Speed Big Sur Mid .jpg
Big Sur
Houston Thelma Speed Augies Mid .jpg
Augie's (One time famed San Diego Restaurant)
Houston Thelma Speed Church Door Mid .jpg
Church door
Thelma Speed Houston Cathedral Midsized Thumbnail
Thelma Speed Houston Bell Tower San Luis Rey Midsized Thumbnail
Bell Tower, San Luis Rey
Thelma Speed Houston Aurora Midsized Thumbnail
Aurora Borealis
Thelma Speed Houston Enchanted Forest and Mountain Midsized Thumbnail
Enchanted Forest

Thelma Gladys Speed Houston California Watercolorist (1914-2000)
By Joe Super of the Brooks Gallery at Fairmont State University
Thelma Speed Houston Blue and Red abstract Midsized Thumbnail
Blue and Red abstract

Thelma Gladys Speed Houston was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1914. She developed an early interest in painting, and studied at the prestigious Pratt Institute in New York City.

As a young painter and member of the Nassau Art League, she exhibited locally, and then in 1939, when she was only 25, she exhibited in the New York Worlds Fair. This exhibit resulted in a listing in Who’s Who in American Art (1940-1941), and helped to establish her reputation as an artist.

Professionally, she combined her love of color and design with work as a stylist for the St. Andrews Textile Company of New York. Later, she worked as a designer for A. Sulka and Company of New York and Paris. Her career allowed her to travel widely in Europe, Canada, and then in Hawaii. She packed her paints wherever she went, and became a confirmed plein-air painter. Watercolor was the ideal medium for the plein-air painter, and, although she was accomplished with oils, she devoted most of her career to watercolors, winning some 55 prizes for her work and teaching scores of students.

When Thelma moved to California, she became part of the “California School of Watercolorists.” By the 1940s, California painters had established their own unique style that generated national and international excitement. The vistas of landscapes, seascapes, and the urban scene provided much of the subject matter for the watercolorist. This was narrative art that displayed a strong expressionist element. In the hands of the California watercolorist, the marinas and beaches and farms and buildings became expressions of the California heart and mind.

In the hands of Thelma, they also expressed the soul of the landscape, its intrigue and mystery. Her mix of colors, subject matter, and composition suggest a deep appreciation of the mystery of life and its many possibilities. Whether painting in Europe, Canada, Hawaii, or her adopted California, she felt blessed to “capture the color and excitement of a few moments in time.” She did this and more. Some of her paintings have a mythical dimension that point to deeper meanings and realities. They draw you in, and let you become a part of the landscape. Rather than fleeting moments in time and space, they are permanent expressions of an emotional landscape that speak to all. This is her legacy.

The most recent exhibit of her work was a major retrospective in held in California, co-curated by Ken Jenkins, a stage and screen star recently known for his role as Dr.Kelso on the TV sitcom "Scrubs."

Listings and biographical information: Charlotte Ball (ed.), Who’s Who in American Art, 1940-1941; Mallett, Daniel Trowbridge, Index of Artists International, Biographical (1948); Havlice, Patricia Pate, Index to Artistic Biography (1948); Doyle, Harrison and Ruth, A History of Vista (California) (1973); Artists of Southern California (1983); McClelland, Gordon and Jay Last, California Watercolors 1850-1970, An Illustrated History & Biographical Dictionary (2002); Creps, Bob, The Biographical Encyclopedia of American Painters, Sculptors & Engravers (2002); Davenport, Ray, Davenport's Art Reference: The Gold Edition (2005)

Dunbier, Lonnie Pierson (Ed) The Artists Bluebook (2005). Interviews with students.

Ken Jenkins with a Thelma Speed Houston Watercolor
Ken Jenkins with shows off one of his
Thelma Speed Houston paintings
North County Times
Serving North San Diego and Southwest Riverside Counties
'Scrubs' actor behind retrospective exhibit for Vista artist
By: PATRICIA MORRIS BUCKLEY - For the North County Times | Posted: Wednesday, May 2, 2007

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