William Paul Thomas  Blonde and Bougie  48 x 60" Oil on canvas

William Paul Thomas
Blonde and Bougie
48 x 60"
Oil on canvas


"I paint representations of disembodied heads of people in my social circle and sometimes scrawl text directly over their likenesses. That text is often tinged with dry humor, at times it is politically incorrect, and is regularly derived from the spoken vernacular of the communities I have been reared by. My overarching goal is to share with diverse audiences what I see as worthwhile subject matter. That might include religious symbolism or popular slang. Painting pictures is my way of capsulizing this broad, ongoing exploration of the human condition.

"Many of us have immediate psychological connections to representations of the human face. We look for similarities between ourselves and those represented; note key differences between “us” and “them.” “He looks like so-and-so.” “She reminds me of whatshername.” Assumptions or questions about the subject’s state of mind usually follow. If the expression that the subject wears is ambiguous enough, we might begin to project our own emotions onto them to interpret the painting's message.

"I choose specific models as a way of recognizing their significance in my life’s path. I relish being able to honor everyday people through making images. We regularly celebrate women and men of prominence in mass media, so I take advantage of the opportunity to highlight the people that impact me on a more direct level than any untouchable celebrity or distant historical figure could. I integrate text and other symbols into the portrait work to narrow the subject matter to a certain degree and complicate the viewer’s understanding of the portrait subject’s identity. The work begins as an intimate acknowledgement of an individual and is subsequently transformed into a set of symbols poised for the viewer’s investigation."


We are all kinds of excited to have William Paul Thomas as our featured artist for the 2018 gala!

His smart, thoughtful, and fun piece Blonde and Bougie will be available as the grand finale of this year's live auction on February 10, 2018. What a terrific opportunity to purchase a signature piece by this mega talent, while supporting the arts organization that empowers artists like Will to keep making and growing.

Make sure you're there to see the bidding war! This is going to be a good one! Get your tickets today! (3).gif

Check out Will's impressive CV here!

And check out Will's website to see more work, including his new video projects.


Q: Can you tell us a little about this piece? What makes you choose this subject matter?
WPT: "When I meet someone whose face I enjoy looking at, but might be unlikely to see regularly, I feel compelled to make a painting of that person. I decided to add an inverted image of my friend Michela with a darker complexion to balance out the composition. I've watched an unhealthy amount of reality TV this year, and the adjustment to this painting is a reflection of that. Think Nene Leakes of The Real Housewives of Atlanta."

Q: What has VAE done for you as an artist? Why do you feel it's important to support the organization?
WPT: "After collaborating with Mike Williams and Linda Dallas for the first installment of Black on Black, Brandon and his team invited me to be a panelist at the Ignite Creativity Summit. That was a great opportunity to connect with some wonderful Raleigh artists I hadn't met before. Shout out to Eric Sencindiver!"

Q: What is your favorite piece of art that you own?
WPT "My favorite piece of art that I own is a small reproduction of a painting of a brick wall that a good friend brought me back from Spain. She knows that I have a thing for building blocks, so I appreciated her thoughtfulness." "

Q: What's coming up for you in 2018?
WPT: "In 2018, I'll be working on more video projects, like this one."