Alma Kate Rumball was born in Huntville, Ontario, Canada in 1902.
Alma’s career began as a school teacher, but that career lasted only four years.
Although she had no formal art education, artistic talent ran through both sides of Alma’s family; in fact her maternal grandfather, William Morgan,was one of five runners-up in the design of what became the Eiffel Tower.
When she became ill as a young woman, she was sent to a tuberculosis sanatorium for four months. She was deeply affected by the experience, after which she became unsociable and withdrew from life, becoming a recluse.
Alma’s automatic painting began in 1955, when she experienced a‘vision’ of Jesus, accompanied by a panther.
During this event she felt commanded by Jesus to draw and write in order to help ‘heal humanity’. From that time, her hand began to move spontaneously across pages, in swirls and detailed formations, totally unlike anything she had consciously created before.
She filled up every available space on paper provided for her by her family, claiming no ownership for the work. She took no credit for the process, saying, I’m as excited to see what ‘the hand’ will do as anyone else is’. There was no trance state involve, she simply allowed the creations to come through her.
Alma was both clairvoyant and clairaudient. She spoke of guidance from God, particular through Jesus, as she was a fundamentalist Christian.
The creation of Tibetan Buddhist symbols and figures considered to be of Atlantis, came outside of her personal experience in this incarnation.
In one picture she references herself as having been Joan of Arc in a past life, which puzzled her. She wrote ‘Alma came to Earth as Joan of Arc’, across one drawing. She never claimed to understand the process, she simply marveled at the wonder of her gift. She devoted her lifetime to these drawings and writings.
Her work is reminiscent of the theme
of Carl Jung’s Collective Unconscious as it is viewed.
The famous Surrealist, Andre Breton, described the type of experience which Alma had as ‘pure psychic automatism’.
Michael Greenwood, curator of the York University Art Gallery, in Toronto where much of Alma’s collection is housed said he had never seen such a case of automatism since William Blake.
Many of Alma’s visionary revelations frightened Alma and she burned many of the drawings and writings.
In 1963 Alma’s nephew, Colin Oke, took some drawings to various Toronto galleries, but they were determined to be ‘too busy’.
By 1973, when Colin’s wife, Wendy took them to the then thriving creative community on Markham Street in Toronto, the artistic climate was much more receptive to the modality of automatic drawing.
Carmen Cereceda, assistant to the famous Mexican muralist, Diego Rivera, was enthralled by the works and quickly became Wendy’s mentor. Carmen was able to facilitate showings of the work through the Ontario College of Art where she was a professor and connected Wendy to her active spiritual community, which is where Wendy’s adventures began in earnest.
The spiritual journey was as exciting as the artistic acclaim.
The path led to Yoga spiritual centres, where some of the symbolism contained in the drawings was linked to Tibetan Buddhist traditions.
The drawings were shown to the spiritual advisor to the Dalai Lama.He identified seven out of 20 pieces as Tibetan gods and deities, rendered in the appropriate positions and with distinguishing mantels and head dresses. There was a flurry of activity during the 1970’s and 80’s around interpreting the icons, symbols and foreign characters.
Late in her life, Alma had a stroke, but continued to create drawings, but they were less complex. In 1975 she ceased creating new pieces and worked only on touching up old ones.
Alma died in 1980, at 78 years of age, never really understanding the source or intent of her incredible, spontaneous gift.
She did say that Wendy was ‘divinely inspired’ to be the one to take the drawings to the world. As we move into the new millennium, her subject matter becomes all the more precious and intriguing.
It is Wendy’s intention to fulfill Alma’s wishes to the best of her ability.
To order the DVD or further information about the art of Alma Rumball including
seminars and viewings:
contact Wendy at