Retrospective Friday of former Wilton artist Malcolm B. Thompson

A reception and exhibition of paintings by the late Malcolm B. Thompson, a former Wilton resident, will be held at the Carl Miller Gallery at Evergreen Woods Retirement Community in North Branford, where he lived for the past 11 years.

The exhibition will take place on Friday, Oct. 21, at 4 p.m. He would have turned 100 years old on Dec. 25, and was still actively planning a birthday exhibition/retrospective when he died on Sept. 20.

“The joy and delight that emerges from Mr. Thompson’s paintings reflect his intense love of the beauty in nature,” a press release says. “The florals are tinged with the sunlight, contrast of shapes and values, creating an instantaneous color impact of brightness and sparkle.”

He painted along the New England coast and was particularly celebrated for his depiction of windswept daisies that grow along the beaches and dunes. Floral gardens and vases full of colorful zinnias, marigolds, cosmos and peonies were among his favorite subjects. His wife Martha Casey Thompson’s flower gardens were continuous inspiration.

He graduated from Pratt Institute in 1937 and continued his art training at the Art Students League where he also taught evening classes in anatomy and watercolor. He joined the studio of magazine illustrator and former Pratt teacher Nicholas Riley (1940-1944) who was illustrating for the Saturday Evening Post. In 1941 WW ll interrupted his career as a commercial illustrator. He was drafted and entered the service as an Army Signal Corps photographer where he spent a year in Iceland. A few of those photographs are in the exhibition.

He then went on to serve as an officer in the Photographic Section of the US Army Signal Corps (USASC) and was stationed in London and Paris for four years. The mission was to process and distribute all the film shot in the European Theater Operations. At the end of the war and only after a few years of working as a freelance illustrator, he was recalled to service during the Korean War. He was stationed at the Signal Corps Photographic Center (formerly the Paramount picture studio) in Astoria, Queens, N.Y., and made training films for the Army.

When the Korean War was over and television surged, he joined the major advertising agency, Batten, Barton, Durstin & Osborne (BBD&O) in New York City as a film producer and later became an executive producer and business manager of the television department. Thompson was a dedicated Sunday painter until leaving his day job at the age of 57 to devote himself full-time to his art. He painted in his converted barn-studio in Wilton from 1954 to 2005.

His talent extended to other media including metal, with which he created welded sculptures, and wood, from which he built all the frames for his paintings.

His paintings were exhibited in galleries at Lord and Taylor in New York City and Marshall Fields in Chicago; in Tucson, Ariz.; Martha’s Vineyard; Dallas, Texas; and Florida.

His works were exhibited in museums, regional and national shows, including, the American Watercolor Society, Mainstreams, Society of Casein Artists, Silvermine Guild of Artists, New Canaan, Connecticut Watercolor Society, and American Artists Professional League.

Thompson is listed in Who’s Who in American Art, and was a signature member of the American Watercolor Society. His wife Martha Casey Thompson, who died in1983, was also an artist, illustrator and designer. His two daughters, Amy Gregg Thompson and Sue (Casey) Barton Thompson, are artists as well and live in Maine.