Erika Allison's Artastic Blog

Breaking the rules… or not

Archive for July, 2010

What DOES “filling the well” mean?  I’m guessing that most artists have some idea of what it means.  It’s a huge and necessary part of the creative process.  In order to say something, one has to have something to say!  When you work and create and move on to the next project to work and create again – eventually that well can run dry.  It needs time to re-fill.  The well is what you draw on for ideas.  You may consciously dig down in that well, looking for something.  But, I think it’s usually a more subconscious thing.  It’s not something you think about doing.  It just happens.   So, when that well is dry or nearly dry, time is needed while it re-fills.  And, how does that happen?  How does the well fill up again?  All  your life experiences are part of that well.  Every vision, every thought, every encounter, every experience – contribute to filling the well.

So – time and living are the key requirements to filling the well.  You need to take some time away from your studio and your creative process.  You need to just “be”.  Don’t be putting pressure on yourself to come up with ideas for your next creation.  There will be plenty of ideas in due time.  Your experiences and visions and subconscious thoughts are always pouring into that bottomless well.  Even your daydreaming contributes.  But, let it all be subconscious.  Try to consider  yourself “on vacation” from your art.  You’re NOT, really.  You’re never on vacation from being an artist.  It’s who you are.  But, TRY to just let your artist lie fallow for awhile.  That is when seeds are being sown, ideas are percolating…  And, soon enough, you’ll be heading into the studio again, ideas flowing, more than you think you have time to even work on.  As if by magic, new ideas appear on your canvas, or whatever ground you work on.  It’s an ongoing cycle.  Take from the well…refill the well…

Do you have thoughts on filling the well?  I’d love to hear from you on how it fits into your creative process.

I love texture!  It’s an element that I think adds lots of interest to my work.  I start with texture right from the beginning with the gesso.  I apply the gesso with a cheap bristle brush and slather it on every which way, which leaves brush strokes that overlap.  I don’t try to smooth it out or lay it on all in one direction.  I’m looking for spontaneous strokes with lots of variety.  If  I were doing a portrait or landscape, this would be disastrous.  I’d want to apply the gesso “properly” in a nice even coating, with no brush strokes showing.  I’d sand between the two or three coats of gesso before starting my painting.  BUT, I’m bucking tradition with my abstract mixed media work.  I’m experimenting.  I’m looking for new and different ways to work.  I’m watching how my different materials react with each other.  And, I’m looking for rich texture in the end.  It’s reasonable, then, to START with texture.

There are many ways to achieve texture.  Preparation of the painting surface is the place to start.  I usually adhere different materials to the surface, experimenting with achieving different results.  Then, there’s the application of the paint.  Oils can be applied in a thick impasto, leaving raised areas where it’s the thickest.  Materials can be “added” to the wet surface, as in throwing sand on it.  There’s room for experimentation along the way.  One thing I do consider is that my materials are archival.  That sometimes leaves out interesting things I’d like to try.  A lot of materials that would seem to make for interesting collage are really not at all archival.  Newsprint doesn’t last long, nor do a lot of commercial printing inks that you’d find in newspaper or magazine pages.

Found objects can be attached to a painting during the process of creating the work – or after it’s finished.  I love finding old, worn metal objects, rich with patina.  There’s no end to the possibilities of texture in found objects.  Pieces of screen or found jewelry components or hardware can all add interest.  Or – you can create what is needed to meet  your specific needs.


One method of creating texture is possibly overlooked.  And, that is visual texture.  Spray paint sprayed through a stencil or mask would be an example of what I’m talking about.  The paint isn’t actually textural.  It’s not raised.  But, VISUALLY, it’s textural.  And, that creates variety.  Variety is always good.  Too much of a good thing can be boring.  Introducing a different approach or method will break up the monotony of too much of the same old thing.  Stamping is another example of using visual texture.  Some of my found objects have served me better as stamps than additions.  And, of course, there’s dragging textural tools through the wet paint, creating grooves and furrows and scraping paint off to reveal colors beneath.



oil/mixed media on panel


I’m guessing that you can come up with many other ideas on how to achieve texture.  In art, the possibilities are endless.  That’s the fun of it, the challenge…to find new ways.

An Art-Filled Saturday

Posted Friday, July 9th, 2010

Tomorrow will be an art-filled day for me. I always enjoy art-filled days. That seems to be my goal:  fill ‘er up with art!

I will be at The Ortego Gallery, Las Vegas, all afternoon. I have a show hanging during the month of July: “Unanswered Questions”. Preview Thursday and First Friday were last weekend. I thought it would be nice if I were there sometimes during the month so I’d be available to meet and talk with interested people. Artists who have their own galleries and show their work full-time are always there and available. So, I thought I’d try to be available part-time, at least.

In the evening I will be joining five other artists for Painters On The Patio. We will be painting live, outdoors, on the patio at Bar+Bistro. There will probably be diners on the patio, drinkers on the patio, bocce ball players at the bocce ball court – and, hopefully, interested observers watching us paint. It’s a great atmosphere for creating, night in the arts district.

I have been preparing for my busy day tomorrow. I have my art supplies ready to go, some already packed into my car. I’ve been having a lazy, enjoyable day – resting up for a long, busy day tomorrow.

Come on down to the arts district tomorrow if you are in town. There’s lots to see – including me!

Oh, boy!  Art shows take a lot of work!  All that creating …all that thinking about titles, planning, hauling the work to the gallery…  Whew!  It’s finally behind me …for this round.  My show, “Unanswered Questions”, is being shown at the Ortego Gallery in The Arts Factory, Las Vegas for the month of July.

The Las Vegas arts district has a First Friday event every month, preceded by a Preview Night the Thursday before.  Preview night is when a lot of the artists make their rounds to see what’s going on, the new exhibits, greet each other, etc.  It’s also the night that a lot of collectors like to make the rounds, in hopes of seeing the artwork better and meeting the artists.  First Friday is a continuation of galleries being open to exhibit artwork, but there are lots of other things going on as well.  It’s quite a festive evening.  People watching is great, as is the art viewing.

Here are a few photos from the event.

Tamara Watson and Erika Allison discussing her new work, "As If By Magic".

Tamara Watson and Erika Allison discussing her work, “As If By Magic”

Las Vegas Painter Brian Malpasso at the Arts Factory

Local Las Vegas artist, Brian Malpasso showing his paintings.

Carlos De Las Heras showing "The Planet Earth Award" series at First Friday Las Vegas.

Carlos De Las Heras showing paintings from his series “The Planet Earth Awards, Beyond Superstition”.

Now that the July events are behind me, it’s time to update mailing lists, post pictures and write blogs.  Then, it’s on to more creating, thinking about titles, planning…

Photos credit – Trillian

Show at Ortego Gallery

Posted Thursday, July 1st, 2010


I have been creating new paintings for my upcoming show at Ortego Gallery in Las Vegas.  I’m quite excited about it.  The Ortego Gallery is in The Arts Factory, in the arts district, where First Friday is a regular event.  There is also Preview Night on Thursday, when artists and serious collectors make the rounds.  The show will be up for the month of July.

Two of my new paintings were started at the First Annual Outdoor Paint-In.  A number of artists participated in that event.   So, those who saw my work that day may be surprised to see how different the works look after a couple more painting sessions in my studio.  Also included in the show will be a painting I started at the Paint-In at Place Gallery.

I am especially interested in texture.  So, I am always looking for new textures to explore and include in my work.  Come to the show and check out “As If By Magic”.  I’m keeping the new texture featured in this painting secret.  You’ll have to come to the show!  Let me know what you think!