Florence Art School in West Jefferson

If you are looking for an art gallery which also offers classes in the Ashe County area, look no further than the Florence Thomas Art School.  The non-profit school opened in 2007 in the historic downtown of West Jefferson.  The Florence Thomas Art School wanted provide instruction to the community members and tourists concerning heritage and master crafts, as well as fine arts.

The school is named after Florence Thomas, herself, who was born in 1909.  She was one of eight kids in her family and was raised in the rural mountains of North Carolina.  She was raised in a time that’s unimaginable for most; there was no electricity and finding a road for a car (not a horse) was often difficult. However, Florence’s parents believed highly in the value of a good education so the moved the kids in order to make sure they had access to proper education.

Florence was not introduced to art until high school.  This was also the first time she learned she could make money selling her art. She and a classmate would paint on canvas and sell them for two dollars apiece. It was at this moment Florence found her passion in life and would spend many years attempting to pursue her mission.

She was accepted to the Philadelphia School of Design for Women, but was only able to spend one year there before returning home for an illness. Upon her return, Florence began teaching her impressionistic style out of her basement.  This was how she was able to provide the community with an artistic outlet; which was extremely important to Florence.

Eventually, Florence retired from teaching art and began to spend her time and energy on her own art. In a single painting, she was able to capture a sense of comfort in the landscapes, farm animals, and flowers.  Her paintings provided vivid colors and a warmth that made you feel as though you were somewhere familiar.

When asked to describe her artwork she said, “I don’t put much detail in my paintings because if you tell everything you know about something and just load it with detail, it’s like a  person that gossips and talks too much.  You don’t allow the viewer to enter the picture.”

Since opening the Florence Thomas Art School, many folks from around the area come together to either participate in or teach one of the over 50 classes offered from May through October. These classes could include any of the following mediums: painting, weaving, writing music, making paper, digital photography, and even classes offered for children.

Ashe County North Carolina is a small, rural town nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Much of the land has been preserved therefore providing beautiful scenic views.  Little nooks and crannies can be found throughout the county.  The Blue Ridge Parkway winds itself around the county, providing tourists with unforgettable views and amazing landscapes.

The mission of the Florence Art School is to provide resources for instruction, exhibition and experience in the fine arts and heritage crafts for Ashe County and the region.

If you are visiting the area, you are welcome to come and walk the grounds during daylight hours and check out the gallery.

Contact us to find out about our hours and classes offered from May-October.

It is typical after spending a day in downtown West Jefferson to want to move to the area. Luckily, Century 21 Heritage Realty is located only minutes from the downtown area.  We provide several listing to meet any budget.  Whether you are looking for a residence or a plot of land to begin construction, we are here to help you find the perfect location to begin your next chapter of life.