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Judy Thompson

My artistic goal is to create contemporary watercolors which engage and connect the viewer to our beautiful, yet complex, rural landscapes.


Timeless landscapes and expressive figures are hallmarks of Judy Thompson's contemporary watercolors.  Reflecting the history, fabric and beauty of the Great Plains, Judy's artwork has been acclaimed as "capturing a sense of place."  An avid biker and hiker, Judy finds inspiration by exploring the fields, farms and wild places which surround her Iowa home.  These weekend treks allow Judy to experience the moods, colors and textures of the prairies firsthand--bringing an intimate and graceful style to her work.


I create colorful, textured paintings which explore the historical and contemporary dynamics of the Midwest's changing landscape.  Within the past 200 years, our once virgin prairie has been domesticated and cultivated into the rich productive farmland we experience today.  These vast agricultural changes have had tremendous implications for our land and our world.  Our history, our culture, our economy and even the heath of our planet, are all rooted into these fertile plains which we call home.  My artwork captures the rich colors and textures of the landscape and speaks to the intricate relationships that exist within this prairie ecosystem.

My medium of choice is transparent watercolor which is both expressive and versatile.  Its application can be immediate and dynamic, or ordered and manipulated.  Its moods range from tranquil to exciting, and even chaotic.  This broad spectrum allows me to explore the medium's capabilities and push its limits to create new and distinctive textures within my paintings.  To accomplish this, I experiment with a variety of surface treatments and mixed media techniques.  One of my favorite applications is to outline and connect the shapes and colors within my paintings using charcoal, ink or wax crayon.  The resulting tapestry serves as a metaphor of the complex connections within the ecosystem and the human impact our actions have upon our environment.

...her work is important as a mid-western artist..  Through her research, she has developed an interest in both the history and landscape of the Midwest,and has made an important contribution towards an aesthetic appreciation of both.
Joanne Alberda,   Associated Art Professor, Retired.   Dordt University

Judy's Story

Judy Thompson is an artist of the plains.  As a Mid-westerner she has called Iowa her home for over 35 years and is inspired by the vast fields, big skies and lush textures of the prairie landscape. 

As long as she can remember, Judy has loved to draw and create.  In school, Judy excelled at art and was awarded a college scholarship which she never accepted.  Instead, her well meaning parents encouraged her to pursue another career.  It wasn’t until several decades, three children and multiple careers later, that Judy returned to her art--resolved to nurture her God-given gifts.

Since that time, Judy’s artwork has received national and regional awards, including Best of Show in the Iowa Watercolor Society Annual Juried Exhibition. Her work is informed by her experiences as an artist-in-residence at the Homestead National Park, NE (formerly the Homestead National Monument);  Badlands National Park, SD and Custer State Park, SD.  She is also a grant recipient of the Iowa Arts Council through the National Endowment for the Arts.  

The Homestead Series, which was inspired by an artist residency at the Homestead National Historic Park, has toured extensively throughout the Midwest to celebrate the signing of the Homestead Act.  The series is now in the permanent collection of the National Park Service.

Judy’s exhibition history includes solo exhibitions at the Center for Western Studies,  SD; Northwestern College, IA; Presentation College, SD; Dordt University, IA; Pearson Lakes Art Center, IA  as well as many juried group exhibitions.  Her vivid artworks are in the permanent collections of the State of South Dakota; the Center for Western Studies, Sioux Falls;  Avera and Sanford regional medical campuses; Northwestern College, IA;  the National Park Service; and in numerous private  and  corporate collections.

Judy is also the cover artist for the Pioneer Girl series, which celebrates the life and works of Laura Ingalls Wilder.  Commissioned by the South Dakota Historical Society Press, Judy created the cover illustrations for which she has received international acclaim. Pioneer Girl, the Annotated Autobiography of Laura Ingalls Wilder and Pioneer Girl Perspectives are published by the South Dakota Historical Society Press.  These publications are part of the Pioneer Girl Project dedicated to researching and publishing books which explore the life and works of Laura Ingalls Wilder.  

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