Erika Allison's Artastic Blog

Breaking the rules… or not

Posts Tagged ‘work’

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.

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…

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.

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

Paintinplace gallery

Paint-ins seem to be becoming “the thing” in the Las Vegas arts community.  We had an outdoor group painting session in late spring.  Now, there’s a regular “Third Friday” paint-in at Place Gallery, organized and hosted by Gina Quaranto.  There is a nice, large area that works well for many artists to gather and work.  Many mediums and styles were represented.  There was painting in different media, sculpting, and a number of artists were working on their skate decks for LVSK8IV The Skate Deck Art Show

Creativity fills the air.  You can breathe it in and use it.  Artists are lost in what they are creating.  And, then, they may be wandering around checking out what other artists are doing.  I think the camaraderie is good for all.  An arts community is what keeps a lot, if not all, of us going.  We get support and encouragement, which is always needed.  We build friendships.  We try to give back in the ways that we can.

It takes some effort to haul all the needed supplies for painting somewhere other than your own studio.  But, it can be worth it.  Group painting offers some things we don’t get alone, holed up in our studios, which is our natural habitat.  Aside from the camaraderie, you also get some publicity of sorts.  It may just be word-of-mouth, someone who stopped in to watch mentioning they’d watched you paint.  Or, it may be a possible collector who has seen your work on exhibit, who now gets to see you working.  You’d be surprised how many people are fascinated by seeing an artist at work.  Keep in mind that this is totally foreign to most people who are not artists.  It may seem humdrum and everyday to you because that IS your life.  You do it almost by rote.  But, to the layman it may be magic.  And, don’t forget, collectors and all buyers are buying a piece of the artist.  Meeting you, seeing you in action, talking to you about your work or your methods, all provide fodder for the collector’s interesting story for his friends.  Also, connecting with the other artists can be worthwhile beyond just the friendship and camaraderie.  The artists here in Vegas are generous with their support of each other.  Your name might come up when there’s an exhibition opportunity.  And, last, but not least – it’s good to get out of your studio and participate in life!  You need ideas for your work, life experiences!  You need to fill the well!

Here is my painting after the session at Third Friday Paint-In.  I will work on it more in my studio and post a picture when it’s completed.


Have you painted with a group?  Do you enjoy it?  What benefits or pitfalls do you find in painting with others present?

I love Las Vegas artists!  They are so vibrant, enthusiastic, generous, helpful…and full of great ideas.  There’s always a new idea, a new event, something to keep the arts district in motion and in the news. 

This new event, First Annual Open Air Painting Day, should be fun for the artists.  It’s great for camaraderie.  It’s a good opportunity to get to know your fellow artists a little better.  And, it’s always cool to be able to watch other artists at work.  That’s not always something you get to see!  It will be an opportunity to share tips and anecdotes.  Who knows, you may even accomplish something!  And, the public is invited, of course.  Anyone can come watch the artists at work (and play).

I have been in Las Vegas for three years now.  I felt welcomed from my first venture into the arts district – attending First Friday.  I have found the artists here to be generous in offering opportunities, in helping when help is needed and being generally supportive of each other.  All are interested in growing the arts district.  When there’s a charitable cause, you can count on the artists to pitch in and donate time, talents, paintings.  And, the most enduring quality is their willingness to support and promote each other.  It’s not just ME, ME, ME.  It’s “Check out this artist’s work”.  So, the painting day is yet another opportunity for all artists – and another event to keep the arts district in the news. 

This event is sponsored by Place Gallery and PeaceN’art Studio.  Tents to protect us from Las Vegas’ fierce sun are being provided by The Arts Factory.  What a nice collaboration in the spirit of offering an opportunity for all!  Thank you, Gina, Alex and Wes!

"Candle in the Wind"“Candle in the Wind”

I feel like I’m winding down from 2009 and revving up for 2010 all at the same time. To me, it’s a continuation. There really is no “end” or “beginning”. I guess our thinking about it in those terms allows us to “end” whatever went wrong/didn’t work out and “begin” anew. I guess I can buy that. But, I never make new year’s resolutions. It’s too depressing to find that I can’t keep promises I made to myself. It’s putting additional pressure on. I think I have some built-in resolutions: keep learning, keep experimenting, keep creating. That’s what it’s all about for me.

I can’t say I wouldn’t like some improvements in the new year. I’ve always thought of myself as prolific. Yet, I haven’t produced much in 2009. I’ve let things get in the way. Have to change that! And, I’d like to keep learning more about using my computer. I need to know!

I remember to pat myself on the back for some accomplishments in 2009 as well. I’m liking where I am in my work right now. I’ve shown my work a couple of times. I HAVE learned some high-tech stuff (although I have a lot more to learn). So, I have high expectations for 2010. And, I intend to do my part in realizing some good things.

I think I’ll have a glass of wine and watch some New Year’s fireworks from my yard (I should be able to see the fireworks on the Las Vegas Strip) to bring in the new year. And, tomorrow, I’ll start a new painting.