Thelma L. Burke, 55, an artist who painted abstracts in oils and watercolors, died Wednesday at George Washington University Hospital after apparently suffering a heart attack.She had been in ill health for some time.

She had lived in Alexandria since 1961. She exhibited her paintings in a number of studios in Northern Virginia, and held several individual shows at the Studio Gallery in Alexandria.

Mrs. Burke also worked in pottery, sculpture, woodworking and fibercrafts. She was regular contributing artist to the annual Hadassah Art Collectors shows in Alexandria. She also had exhibited at the annual Smithsonian art show.

Born in Boisw, Idaho, Mrs. Burke studied art a Pasadena Junior College in California and the University of Washington in Seattle. She had exhibited and sold numerous paintings there and won a first place award in the Northwest Watercolor Annual Show.

She had a large personal art collection that included works of Northwest artists and art work acquired on extensive travels abroad.

She is survived by her husband, Joseph L. Burke, a retired Foreign Service officer, and a daughter, Kathleen, both of the home; another daughter, Barbara Irvine, of Herndon; a son J. Daniel, of Fairfax; her mother, Bernice C. Glatts, of Vista, Calif.; two brothers, Harry Glatts of San Gabriel, Calif.; and Gerald Glatts, of Encinitas, Calif.; a sister, Jean Scalisi, of Norco, Calif., and three grandchildren.