Dancers at the Holi Hai Festival in New York City, 2012

Where does color inspiration come from?

Kathleen Thoma,Holi Hai Dancing,2012,monotype,12x24

“Holi Hai Dancing” 2012, monotype, 12 x 24 inches

It seemed that a rainbow had exploded on the streets of New York city during the 2012 festival of Holi Hai.  My family and I happened to be in New York City that day, and became curious about this ancient spring festival we saw advertised. Once we found it, we were glad. I feel it would be very difficult to remain in a bad mood for long in the midst of such a joyful music, dancing and singing.




The slinging of colored powders between the laughing crowds of people was so childish, and that is what also made it seem so creative to me. I saw it as a constantly moving painting with each person’s face becoming a small multi-colored canvas of colored powders, changing shape with each dancer’s movement.




For an artist of any stripe, this event was a treasure of inspiration. The colored powders, called “Gulal” are vivid, beautiful and fun. Just by looking down at the pavement, you could see an abstract spontaneous painting being formed by the hour. It was gorgeous to see and to watch it change.


Holi Hai Friends


We were adopted by some new friends who began throwing handfuls of colors onto our faces. We giggled all the way home on the train as people stared at our brilliantly colored faces. It was better than Halloween. We didn’t want to wash off the colors, it was crazy fun to see our altered reflections in the mirror. We will certainly go again next year.




As we came home on the train back to New Haven hours later, I knew that I would be using the same colors I saw on the city pavement, and the laughing faces in my next print. Naturally, I had to name it after the event itself  “Holi Hai Dancing”.

4 thoughts on “Where does color inspiration come from?

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