R.L. Thomas was born in Pulaski, VA on Christmas Eve in 1942. He was raised by both sets of grandparents, alternating working in his granddad’s grocery store and on a small farm in Bland County, VA. His early interest in art was not encouraged by his grandparents who wanted him to be anything but an artist.
However, his grade school report cards were filed with comments like, “Robert’s interest in art keeps him from his studies.” His school textbook margins were filled with doodles and sketches. A local Pulaski photographer and artist helped him take workshops in painting at the early age of 12. From there he continued his art interest through high school and attended Richmond Professional Institute’s Commercial Art & Design School ( now Virginia Commonwealth University).
R.L. worked in a number of advertising agencies as an illustrator and designer for man years. He founded his own ad agency in the 80s and finally began painting full-time after retirement (and a watercolor class that he attended with his wife, who is also a painter). At the age of 69, he went back to graduate school at Radford University, studying watercolor under renowned artist Z.L. Feng.The eternal art student, R.L. has become collected and respected throughout the country.