1904 - 1995

The Reverend Lilion T. “Thunderbolt” Thomas was born October 9, 1904 in Calvert, TX. He became a cotton farmer, and then a preacher, serving as the pastor of a number of country churches in the Texas boom towns around Corsicana,Texas and later in Abilene,Texas. He earned the nickname “Thunderbolt” through his hellfire-preaching sermons.

In the 1940's Thomas began drawing in his spare time to keep busy. He said his motivation for drawing was “ all the folks is out gambling, drinking beer, chasing women and cussing and so I drawed to keep myself company”. The subjects of his drawings were the outlaws Clyde Barrow, Bonnie Parker, Pretty Boy Floyd and Fred Douglas, all of whom he claimed to have known. He used pencils, ball-point pen, and crayons. Sometimes his figures are shown riding sway-back horses and wearing military decorations while World War I biplanes pass overhead. His drawings are small in size and often on lined paper, and many have tack holes, fold creases and are crinkled or torn.

The Rev. Thomas passed away in 1995.

Thomas’s work is included in the Collection le Art Brut in Lausanne Switzerland. His art was also in the exhibition, "Spirited Journeys: Self-Taught Texas Artists of the Twentieth Century".

Bibliography: "Contemporary American Folk Art - A Collector's Guide" Chuck and Jan Rosenak, Abbeville Press, 1996; "Self Taught, Outsider, and Folk Art—A guide to American Artists, Locations and Resources" by Betty-Carol Sellen with Cynthia J. Johnson, 2000; "American Self-Taught Art: An Illustrated Analysis of 20th Century Artists and Trends with 1,319 Capsule Biographies" by Florence Laffal and Julius Laffal, 2003; “Spirited Journeys: Self-Taught Texas Artists of the Twentieth-Century” Archer M. Huntington Art Gallery, University of Texas at Austin, August 29 - October 19, 1997.

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Rev. L.T. Thomas     Rev. L.T. Thomas     Rev. L.T. Thomas

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