Karl Thomas was born and raised in Provo, Utah. Although primarily a landscape painter, Thomas also does portraiture, wildlife and still life painting. His father, a doctor, was a fine landscape and portrait artist, which inspired his young son. Thomas’ early interest in art led to early training; he spent hours painting and drawing beside his father.
Thomas continued his concentration in art, taking classes in high school and majoring in Fine Art at Brigham Young University. While at Brigham Young, Thomas studied under William Whitaker, whose art made a large impression on him. Indeed, it was Whitaker’s influence and ability that finalized Thomas’ decision to go into art as a career. Thomas graduated from Brigham Young University in 1972, and went on to Los Angeles, California, to continue his studies at the Los Angeles Art Center. After finishing his studies there, Thomas worked as an illustrator, graphic artist and graphic designer, drawing animation and teaching oil painting classes, as well as doing other free-lance work.
Then as now, Thomas looked to Rembrandt, the Impressionists, such as Monet, Degas and Van Gogh, and the American Impressionists, such as John Singer Sargent, Childe Hassam and William Merritt Chase, as well as George Inness and Thomas Moran, for inspiration. The talent and ability of peers and contemporaries such as Walt Gonske, Rod Goebel, Wilson Hurley and Clark Hulings also influence him.
However, Thomas’ ability sets him apart. In the color and freshness of his work, it is easy to see that he truly knows, and loves, his subject. Working out of doors, often in the brisk winter air, to develop his awe-inspiring landscapes, Thomas captures what most artists never see: the wide, endless skies of winter and early spring, and the sharp, clear contrast of light and shadow in a world without the haze of summer.
Working in both large and small formats, Thomas has no problems conveying the majestic breadth of the Western landscape. Canyons and peaks fade to unreachable vistas. Clouds, grand and towering, soar into the heavens. Even when plein air painting, when it is necessary to work quickly in order to capture a fleeting moment and contain it on canvas, Thomas’ works manage to convey the beauty and span of nature. “The first and last light of the day are usually the most dramatic…In a few moments, all the drama will be over.”
Constantly refining his style, Thomas has evolved into a confident, controlled master of oil technique.