Erika Allison's Artastic Blog

Breaking the rules… or not

Posts Tagged ‘artwork’

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




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!


Posted Friday, May 7th, 2010
'Every Day is History in the Making'
"History in the Making"

Tension in a painting can be interesting, as well as useful.  I like tension in a painting.  It can be used by the artist to direct the viewer’s eye where he/she wants it to go.  An example of what the artist does NOT want to do is direct the viewer’s eye OUT of the painting.  For instance, a profile portrait placed too close to the edge where the sitter is looking “out” – actually directs the viewer’s eye out of the painting.  Never to return.  Viewer moves on to next artwork.  You’ve lost your viewer!

In my painting, “Every Day Is History in the Making” it’s pretty easy to see the tension.  I was aware of it while I was working on the piece.  I decided I liked it, so I kept it and used it to my advantage.  It’s easy to spot the darkest dark and the lightest light.  That is my center of interest, which I established right away in the painting.  At some point, while studying my progress, I decided that the lightest light was TOO harsh.  It needed softening.  I felt that additional paint and/or brush strokes was not the answer.  I didn’t want to muck it up, so to speak.  So, I chose to use silver spray paint.  It softened the hard edges that were bothering me.  It kept it light (silver is very reflective).

The next thing I noticed while studying my progress was that there was a large dark area to the right that was competing with my darkest dark.  It had some other marks in it to break it up a bit.  And, it was slightly gradated from solid dark to a little less dark.  But, that was splitting hairs.  The fact is that it was really competing.  My eye kept being pulled from the center of interest (lightest light/darkest dark) to the very dark shape at the right…and, then, back again.  I decided I really liked that.  I liked the tension.  I also liked that it kept the viewer’s eye in the picture.  I wasn’t leading the eye out of the picture and away from my art.  Mission accomplished!

'Don't Suck Me In', 2010
"Don't Suck Me In"

Another good example of tension can be seen in my recently completed work, “Don’t Suck Me In”.  I started that piece with a challenge to myself.  I placed my lightest light and darkest dark as my center of interest.  Both are quite small.  The challenge was to see if it would hold up as the center of interest even though it was  small.  I did also use red right next to it sort of as an insurance policy.  Red will always catch the eye.

If you followed my previous posts about the evolution of “Don’t Suck Me In”, you know that the big sequins were the last addition to the work.  And, they really create some tension.  It’s pretty hard not to catch the eye with big, silvery, glimmering sequins blowing in the wind!  Yet, my intended center of interest is over to the right where the little bitty white and black areas (and some red) are.  Again, I find that my eye goes back and forth from the intended center of interest to the sequins.  This is great!  The whole meaning of the work is tied up in tension.  If you noticed the snakeskin under the paint near the center of interest…tension!  Then, the title suggests getting sucked in.  Sucked in to what?  Well, that’s up to you.  But, the words that are written along the right sight suggest some possibilities.  As long as the eye is kept inside the picture plane, I feel it has been successful.  The more time the viewer is kept inside the painting, the more time he has to find the more nuanced areas that may suggest more nuanced meaning.

So, now  you know some things I think about while working.  I hope you found it interesting.  Feel free to give me some feedback.  I know how the artist thinks.  I’m very curious about what the viewer sees and thinks.  What catches and holds YOUR attention?

Jill Of All Trades

Posted Monday, April 19th, 2010


“Can We Get There From Here?”


Oil/Mixed Media on Panel

Yup, JILL.  That would be the feminine for…you got it – jack of all trades.  I suppose I shouldn’t focus on gender.  All of us artists are up against the same thing:  the need to be able to do it all.  It seems that ALL is getting bigger and broader and more demanding.

I wish that being an artist meant that one would CREATE ART.  That’s all.  Times  have changed.  Our needs have changed.  And, there’s more than ever to do as an artist.  There’s so much preparation.  There’s promoting oneself.  Showing the work.  Being a good salesperson.  Keeping accurate records.

Before I can begin a painting I have to come up with a painting surface.  Sure, surfaces are available to buy.  But, there are many things to consider.  What kind of surface do  you want?  Can you afford to buy a prepared surface of the quality you want?  Or, if you want a “custom” surface that isn’t manufactured, you will need to create it yourself.  This is where the “fun” begins.  A knowledge of building materials and tools comes in handy.  Tools needed to build the surface are  needed.  And, a place to work at building is needed.  Time is spent building the painting surfaces.

The best part, for me, is the actual creating of the artwork.  I get the most joy out of painting and whatever else is involved in the creation of my work.  I work rather quickly as far as the actual painting goes.  But, I can spend a lot of time thinking, viewing, coming up with ideas of “what’s next”.  Do I want to include this or that, do I want to add this or that found object, do I want to add marks in pencil, oil stick or spray paint?  This is where I really enjoy the process.  These are the decisions that truly affect the final outcome of the work.  The answers to each of these questions make or break the success of of the work.  I love it when I feel like I’ve made the right decisions.

Now, I need to be able to promote myself.  In the past that meant being able to photograph your work well (or hire a professional photographer), keeping your resume up-to-date and searching for opportunities to show your work.  Opportunities to show your work is still the goal today.  But, there are so many more opportunities for promoting yourself.  Hello, computer!  If one has the skills to create one’s own website and keep it up-to-date and photograph and photoshop one’s work – that One is in good shape!  Hooray for you!  If, on the other hand, one (ME) is a bit of a dinosaur in this area – there is a lot of frustration.  I feel like I’m spending all my time learning how to do everything that needs doing.  And, where is my painting time?

Well, I’m not giving up!  I’m still plugging away at it all.  This painting, “Can We Get There From Here?” shows how making one’s own painting surface contributes to the end result of the painting.  I’ve altered the shape of the rectangular surface by cutting out three semi-circles with my handy-dandy electric jigsaw.   I photographed the finished work.  With help from my fabulous webmaster, Trillian, I’ve come up with an image of the work.  She’s still working with me on how to do all this stuff.

I’m always looking for opportunities to show and sell my work.  I watch for competitions that I feel are worthwhile to enter.  And, when things go well, I have to get down to good record keeping!

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.

Call For Entries!

The CAC 21st Annual Juried Show - Call for Artwork

The Contemporary Arts Center of Las Vegas, a non-profit arts organization, is calling for submissions to their 21st Annual Juried Show.

“This year marks the first national call for entries to the juried exhibition, as we broaden the scope of the work and support our mission to connect with fellow artists within and beyond our own community.”

For the first time they will be accepting digital entries in order accommodate a larger spectrum of entries and to “encourage trans-disciplinary artists to expand their potential entries for jury consideration”.

If you are interested in submitting, visit their members’ site events page for guidelines and entry forms at

According to their site & flyer, the ‘Best of Show’ award is $1500, with second and third place prizes of $750 and $500, respectively.

The deadline for digital submissions is March 1st, 2010!

Contact information for the CAC is listed below:

The Contemporary Arts Center
107 E. Charleston, Suite 120
Las Vegas, Nevada 89104
Gallery hours: Tuesday-Saturday 12-5 and by appointment

Some of my latest works of art will be featured at the upcoming showcase at LeMur Gallery. The opening reception will be on Thursday, February 4th from 7 – 10 pm.