Thomas Hood, Philadelphia printmaker

March 14, 2015

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It’s not every day one gets a chance to sort through piles and piles of artwork of a renowned artist, especially one who was as clearly as fond of animals, seashells, and bold shapes as I am.

Thomas Richard Hood (1910-1995) was a graphic designer, director of the exhibits program at the Philadelphia College of Art (now the University of the Arts), director of the Pennsylvania Art Program in the Works Progress Administration, and former president of the American Color Print Society.

My friend Marianne graciously invited me over to peruse her impressive collection of Mr. Hood’s work, which consists of wood block prints, silk screen prints, lithographs, drawings, and a number of his commercial projects (including a series of ads featuring various zoo animals enjoying cherry-flavored Jello).

Also in the collection were some printed publications including a portfolio of Fairmount Park mansions, a portfolio titled ‘The Rose-Covered Cottage of Edgar Allen Poe in Philadelphia’, a set of prints of bird decoys, and a really nifty 1974 calendar of geometric silk-screen patterns.

This is one of my favorites - a glowering porcupine under a red sky (wood block):

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Here’s a few more samples. These photos really don’t do justice to the quantity of work he produced, the variety of media, and all the different artistic styles he explored. It is clear he was always experimenting and had a lot of fun trying new things.

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And here is his portrait, along with a drawing he did of an Amish couple:

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Initially conceived as a venue to document some home improvement projects, this blog has since expanded into other pursuits including anything from jewelry to art appreciation to textiles.

Art and art-making have always been an important part of my life. I believe there is therapeutic power in one’s own imagination, and it can be tapped through any kind of beautiful ‘object of meditation’. Whether in the form of music, photos, a good story, or the things only Mother Nature can take credit for, art nurtures our brains and souls. Like spirituality, art may not be necessary for survival but it definitely makes life worth living. Happy imagining!

Laura Soule

Published March 14, 2015