Erika Allison's Artastic Blog

Breaking the rules… or not

Posts Tagged ‘art’

Executive Acres

Posted Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

Executive Acres, oil / mixed media on panel - Dimensions: 24 7/8" x 32" x 1 3/4"

I usually don’t know what a work is about until I’m done with it and have it titled.  I concentrate on design, composition, color, texture.  I view it in all directions.  I turn it upside, sideways and back up again, checking to see that I have a good composition.  I feel that if one has a good composition the painting will work in any direction.  Of course, I eventually have to settle on a direction that I think works best – or that I like the best.  Then, I’ll start studying the painting to see what I “see” in it.  Abstract work invites the viewer (including the artist) to see what he/she sees in it.  Different viewers can see different things.  Eventually, something will hit me, a title will come to mind and I’ll know I’m finished.

In this painting I felt like I was seeing outer space.  Maybe planets, asteroids, the unknown.  And, there’s all this talk about space travel, the new frontier, etc.  Private companies are talking about trips into space.  And, of course,only the very wealthy will be able to afford this kind of adventure.  I’m thinking maybe a home on a new planet takes the place of the big house on the hill.  But, then, you may see something altogether different.  One of my artist friends sees a moon pie!  She’s from the south, in case  you couldn’t guess!

This original oil/mixed media painting can be seen at R Space Studio in The Arts Factory, 107 E. Charleston Blvd, Ste. 125, Las Vegas NV through February.

Fun With Titles

Posted Friday, May 4th, 2012

I like a good title.  It makes me try to connect the title with the artwork.  I wonder what it means.  I look at the work, see what I see…and sometimes wonder what it was that the artist saw.  Does the title spell out exactly what it means?  Or, does the title pique your interest and make you wonder what the painting is about?  Is it a serious painting?  Is it tongue in cheek?  What does it mean?  I really hate untitled works.  I sometimes just move on to the next piece because there was nothing to make me think and wonder.  I guess one could argue that the work itself should make me think.  I suppose that would be valid.  But, it’s so much more fun to be poked and titillated.  To me, the title is a part of the work, an important part of the work.  Granted, you don’t want to spell out the entire meaning of the work and explain each mark and color.  Mystery is part of the appeal.  And, each viewer may see something different in the work.  I like that.  Each viewer’s interpretation is valid.  But, a title can be a starting point to get the thinking going.  It can suggest something that the viewer can then follow – or not follow – to some conclusion.  Maybe there isn’t actually a conclusion.  Maybe, getting one to think is all it’s about!  Whatever.  Makes no difference.  Maybe it’s just a personal thing with me.  I like titles.


My painting, “Sign On the Dotted Line”, has a title intended to make one think.  What can that be about?  Where’s the Line?  I don’t see a line!  I see a bunch of dots…large ones, small ones, scattered about…  Whenever I’m asked (or told) to sign on the dotted line, I feel like I’m signing my life away.  Now, it’s written in stone.  Now, I’m bound to this or that.  No flexibility here.  No excuses.  No getting out of it.  It’s signed, sealed and delivered.  Now, I’m beholden.  Signing on the dotted line is a serious and everlasting thing!  There’s always fine print.  Usually, an interpreter is required.  There are way more words than necessary, in fine print, that you’d better understand.  Hah!  Lots of luck with that!   So…I think I’m adding a little levity to the serious act of signing.  Where is the line, anyway?  Not only is everything in fine print that I don’t understand, I can’t even find the line!  Wouldn’t you know it?  “They” have all the control.  And, you can take it from there.  Whatever you see in the painting is okay with me.  But, I gave you a starting point, something to ponder…


Sign On the Dotted Line




If you’re going to paint in a series you must know what it is that you’re painting about. You know where you’re going. That’s counter to my usual method of working. I usually don’t know what a work is about until I’m finished and it’s titled. When I come up with a title, everything falls into place and the meaning reveals itself to me.

I do have one series that I started several years ago and I keep adding to it when I’m moved to do so. I didn’t start out with series in mind. That idea came to me after I’d completed the first one and titled it. My “Twelve” series now has six paintings in it. I don’t know how many will ultimately end up there. The possibilities are endless. I like that!

My latest painting in the series is “Twelve and Twelve More”, a 10″x10″x1 5/8″ oil/mixed media painting on panel. It’s actually a variation on the theme of “twelve” because it actually contains twenty-four! It has twelve circles (the original premise), but also has twelve bars. I thought that was a fun variation.

"Twelve and Twelve More" by Erika Allison

"Twelve and Twelve More" - oil/mixed media on panel, 10"x10"x1 5/8"

Back to the beginning: I painted a 16″x16″x1 5/8″ painting containing twelve circles. The challenge was to make it interesting. The inspiration was a package of paper towels in the studio. In addition, I chose a complementary color scheme of red and green. So, I think I had a real challenge there! After I finished it and titled it (clever title, eh?) I thought I could paint this subject endlessly and have interesting variations every time. That’s how this series got started – with twelve circles. Most have twelve circles. One painting I decided that the “twelve” didn’t necessarily have to be circles, so I used a few squarish shapes. I will say that I think that one is the weakest of the series.

"Twelve" by Erika Allison

"Twelve" - oil/mixed media on panel, 16"x16"x2"

I really enjoy working on this series. I find it challenging. I’m taking a simple premise and painting it over and over again – and expecting the results to be unique and exciting every time.

I have a funny anecdote about my second attempt to add to my new idea of painting a series. I went from the smallish 16″x16″ to a large 60″x48″. I really like working large. My color scheme challenge was to use monochromatic scheme with yellow. Yikes! High key painting coming out! I finished it, thinking I had a ready-made title “Twelve.2″ I was about to write that on the back when I realized I had actually painted sixteen circles! Oh, no! Now, what? Obviously, I had to come up with a different title, which took awhile. I had to do a lot of thinking and studying before coming up with “Evolution/Revolution”.

"Evolution/Revolution" by Erika Allison

"Evolution/Revolution" - oil/mixed media on panel, 60"x48"x2"

I’m sure I’ll keep adding to this series.  I have no idea when it will end, if ever…

Are We There Yet?

Posted Thursday, August 25th, 2011

That is the question. We all ask ourselves this question as we near the end of a work in progress. It’s usually not clear to us because there are so many options. We COULD add one more touch. OR – that one more touch could be what kills the work. Knowing when a work is done is critical. We have to be able to decide when the work is done.

Sometimes it’s clear to me that I’m done with a painting. It’s just obvious. It’s done! But, sometimes it’s not so easy to decide. Usually, if something is bothering me about a work, and I’m comfortable with the composition, it’s because it needs something more. I don’t always know right away what is needed. Sometimes I have to let a work sit around where I can view it and study it for awhile. Lots of options will come to me. That’s not really a good sign. Lots of options means I’m still undecided about what is needed.

This painting is a good example of a work that I studied for quite awhile before deciding what was needed. I really liked the work – the composition, the colors, the textures, the “feel” of the work. I liked the feeling of uncertainty about the bottom center area. That seemed to be what it was about. It kind of reminded me of a game board – chess, checkers, whatever. It was about deciding the next move. That’s where I got the title. BUT, it was missing something.

'Your Move' by Erika Allison - unfinished

I finally decided that since I felt the work was about the “next move” that what was needed was a game piece – something to move! I didn’t want it to be too busy or obvious. It needed to visible, but not TOO important. A detailed, recognizable piece, such as a knight, would be too important…and draw the eye there as if it were the center of interest. So, I decided to just use an “X”. Then, I had to decide on a color and value. Again, I wanted it to be noticed but not dwelled upon.

I really like this work now. I think I came up with a good solution. There are always lots of options. Even after a work is done, you can look at it and wonder what if… But, I am usually content with my final choices. There’s always the next painting!

'Your Move' by Erika Allison

"Your Move" - oil/mixed media on panel, 18″x24″x1 5/8″

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!

Found Objects

Posted Tuesday, March 16th, 2010



Found objects. What are they? I guess you could say that they are anything that you find! They can be interesting to add to your artwork. It’s not a new concept. Many artists have included found objects in their work. I use them sometimes. Not every painting calls for their use. I don’t want to overdo the practice. I don’t want to be known as the woman who ALWAYS includes found objects in her work! If they add something to the work I like them.

Finding found objects can be fun…or frustrating. I always have my eyes open looking for them. You have to know a good found object when you see it. It can be anything and it can be anywhere. I happen to appreciate old, very used and textural objects. I also appreciate “weird” objects, things one wouldn’t even think of using. Those are the best! One needs to be continuously collecting these found objects. They may not get used for quite some time…or maybe never. But, a good collection is needed. All you neat, tidy, organized people will be cringing about now. But, a good trash pile is like manna! When a work “needs something” you go to your collection of found objects and pick through it, looking for just the right thing.

Sometimes these found objects serve more than one purpose. I have a couple of great finds that have ended up being used for printing textures onto painting surfaces rather than being added to the work. I also have a great piece that I use for a “stencil” of sorts. It has lots of round holes that I use to spray paint through. I also have found objects that I use both for texture on a painting surface and as a stencil. You just need to keep your eyes and your mind open. One of my favorite finds is the plastic netting used on the outside of a Butterball turkey. It’s the perfect example of a find that I’ve used on my surface as texture…AND as a stencil to spray paint through.

It’s time to go on a treasure hunt. I happen to have two paintings in progress that I feel need found objects to complete them. And, sadly, I don’t seem to have the right thing in my treasure pile. It seems like I’m trying too hard to find the perfect found object. The better way is to have found great stuff and have it waiting for the perfect opportunity.

The painting I’m showing, “Downsize” is an example of using found objects. The painting surface itself is a found object: a small pallet. And, there are several found objects added to it at the end.

Some artists swear by the sketchbook. They maintain it’s important to keep one, to be constantly sketching, and wouldn’t go anywhere without it. That’s not me. I’m not much of a sketcher. I never have been. I love to draw…and I’m decent at drawing. I just don’t have much use for sketching, if that makes any sense.

I can remember my freshman year in college. We were supposed to keep a sketchbook for Drawing 101. The night before it was due to be turned in I was in my dorm room scrambling to fill it up. I did numerous drawings of my left hand, feet, tennis shoes, loafers, whatever I could find to draw at the last minute. I wonder if the prof could figure that out? Surely, I wasn’t the only last-minute student!

Recently, I came across my “current” sketchbook in my studio. I opened it and was somewhat appalled to find that my first entry was dated 2002! See? I told you…not much of a sketcher. And, there’s still plenty of room left. I leafed through the whole sketchbook, curious to see what I’d sketched a few times over the years. While I didn’t have sketches of paintings-to-be, I DID have lots of IDEAS jotted down (with a few hastily scratched in sketches to help me remember how the ideas were to work). I was actually amazed at all the ideas I’d had – and had sense enough to jot down lest I’d forget. Some ideas I’ve already implemented, and are the backbone of my current method of working. Others are still waiting for me to try.

I’m glad I decided to thumb through the sketchbook. It reminded me that I come up with lots of creative ideas. And, it reminded me that I should be TRYING some of these ideas. It’s always good to inject new ideas and new methods into one’s work. An artist shouldn’t get too comfortable with one way of working…which reminds me of a good Picasso quote: “Success is dangerous. One begins to copy oneself, and to copy oneself is more dangerous than to copy others. It leads to sterility.”

I’m sure I still won’t keep a sketchbook the way many artists do. But, mine is every bit as valuable – to me, anyway!

Kewl Kinetic Sculpture

Posted Monday, February 22nd, 2010

I found this amazing video about Theo Jansen’s kinetic art that I’d like to share with you. Enjoy!