Posted 6 months ago
Small hand-painted works by a remarkable artist. I've been collecting her original works for a few years, and always try to purchase the originals when I find them. Do not be confused by reproduction postcards, which the artist also sold…these are all small oil paintings by a woman who painted with her mouth, a polio survivor.
Ms. Thompson painted flowers, landscapes, animals and more. A family genealogical site speculates she also painted (in sections at a time) decorations for a "Tee Pee" restaurant in Texas, this would likely be the Tee Pee Motel which was recently restored and put back to service by a lottery winner (!) but I can find no photographs of the decorations on the standing buildings. They were certainly painted over or cleaned over the years.
That the artist manages to fully realize a recognizable, personal vision in her work is amazing considering her physical handicap. The detail is extraordinary. One distinguishing mark of her work is the countless specks she applies one at a time. A primitive pointillist. In the earliest work here, she has even decorated and signed the painting on the reverse to create a traditional postcard.
The best biographical material on the artist comes from Annette Patterson's website. Ms. Patterson has done a wonderful job tracing information on her extended Texas family, and has also written a book with several pages on Nyla. Family photographs of the artist appear on the site.
Ms. Thompson was fairly well-known during her time. The website shows letters she received from both President Franklin Roosevelt (another polio survivor) and Lady Bird Johnson (a Texan who certainly loved flowers as much as Nyla.) As such, it is odd that she has not been included in the many books published in the last 40 years or so on "outsider" artists. She would seem to be right up Herbert Hemphill's alley, but I do not recall seeing her work in print. I sold my Texas Folk Art books years ago, maybe someone can help here.