Artist Profile - Lorna Allan
Where do you live?
I live in Waitakere City, Auckland New Zealand. I only moved here in 2000 having spent most of my life down south in Dunedin and will always consider myself a southern girl.
What is art?
I think art is different things to different people. For me it is sharing my feelings about places I have been, sharing the beauty of the places, giving something back to the world from my heart.
How did you learn to create your art?
I am completely self taught having only ever taken a few workshops and evening classes. I always loved drawing and remember my first day at school when the teacher gave me a piece of chalk and said I could draw on the black board. I was amazed and said but Mum said I had to learn to read and write and do numbers? She said it was okay to go and do some drawing. When I was finished I returned the chalk to be told it was mine forever. For a small girl that was a wondrous thing!
I have taken my art to a more serious level in the last five years or so studying everything I could get my hands on, working through improving each aspect of my work. Recent additions to my landscape work have been animals from my journey to Alaska last year in particular one of a family of bears at Katmai National Park.
When I am painting I can take myself back to the time and place and its magic.
How do you describe your artistic style(s)?
I would think that my style is mostly realism although there are some I have done recently that have a somewhat more surreal feel to them.
What media and tools do you normally use to create art?
I mostly use acrylic and generally brushes rather than pallet knives or other things. Occasionally I do soft pastel and once in a while maybe venture into an oil but these days I find that acrylic meets my needs very well. Also its better for me and the environment.
What method do you follow to create your art?
My work is very fine and very detailed so fine smooth brushes work best for me. Much of my work is done by layers upon layers, glazing, scumbling and gradually building the mood I am looking for.
Where do you create art?
I have a small studio where I live and also go to some groups and paint with other artists. This is good as it helps you not to get too isolated and also its inspiring to work with others who share the same passion albeit that our work is entirely different.
What inspires you to create art?
Driving around a corner and seeing a landscape in front of me that makes you go "Wow!' or sometimes it just takes my breath away and I actually forget to breath. In these cases I just have to paint that scene, there is no choice.
How do you feel when you create art?
Sometimes I take time to settle into the work, not really enjoying it until I feel it coming together around half way through. Other times I know at the beginning that its going to work well and I enjoy it from the first moment the brush and paint touch the canvas. I don't want to stop for any reason.
I mostly have favorite music playing while I paint and before long I am in the painting, in another time, another place. These are always the ones that are most successful.
How long does it take you (on average) to create an artwork?
There is no real answer to this question except maybe saying 'how long is a piece of string?' Its like that. The one you think will be quick and easy is the one that fools you and takes longer. The one that you think may be complex can come together more quickly. Because I am a detail person in most instances and the way I paint, layer by layer to gain the tones and the color I want a small work can take as long as a larger one.
If I had to put it into words a small one may take me a week on average..but then what is average? I have painted my most favorite size (20" x 30") in a week and had another take me ten weeks.
What are your favorite subjects for creating art?
Mostly landscapes. I find the world such a beautiful place with so much diversity that there is always an unending abundance of subject matter. I believe that with all the bad and sad in the world today there is still infinite beauty to be found. We only need look.
In choosing landscapes it gives me the opportunity to show others that beauty when many today live their lives in such a rush they miss most of it as they hurry on by.
What are your favorite artworks?
I was first drawn to landscapes by the work of Petrus Van der Valden a Dutch painter who lived and worked in New Zealand in the mid 1800's. The Dunedin Art Gallery has a huge one of his works called 'Waterfall in Otira Gorge'.
I have stood before this painting so many times in utter awe. To view it on line, like any painting, is not to get the feel of the immense power of this wild water, cold and turbulent crashing down among the rocks.
His work inspired in me a journey to learn how to paint water in all its forms as well as the landscapes. Its my favorite subject.
What suggestions do you have for new artists?
Practice, read about it, practice, go and see every exhibition you can, practice some more, involve yourself with other artists, practice some more. A friend of mine asked once why her painting was not improving - she had it tucked safely under the bed, always finding a reason not to do it. Painting, drawing, any form of art is like learning to drive a car or play a piano you have to practice regularly in fact at least two to three times a week or every day if you can. Immerse yourself in the world of art, live it and breath it. Fill your soul with it. There is nothing more fulfilling.
Who are your favorite artists?
Petrus Van der Valden as previously mentioned. I have always loved the work of the old Masters and wonder if this is why I work mainly with a full range of tonal values.
Modern Day artists I admire are:
- Mark Olsen
- Tom Heflin
- Arron Westerberg
- William Scott Jennings
- Richard Smid
- Nancy Gazik
- Burton Silverman
- Jeannie Breeding
- Denise Mahlke
as well as many artists I have met through Facebook who are too many to mention here.
Who influences your art the most?
The artist mentioned previously are all important in one way or another, mostly very inspiring.
My family are very supportive and encouraging.
What is the first thing you think when you look at your art work from 1-3 years ago and how has your work changed since you started creating?
In the last three years I have been working full time as an artist and feel the passion and total focus in that shows through in my work.
My youngest son said to me one day "Mum, look at something you did a few years ago and put it beside what you are doing now and see the difference' I did - I then wrapped up the old painting again and wrote on the outside 'Nice frame - dreadful painting" I do believe in what I am doing and that I have progressed considerably in the last three years in particular.
Do you live off of your art income?
Somewhat but not entirely. It is not easy to find markets in such a small country, although I do have some in the states and the UK. The art that seems to sell the most is abstract as people purchase it to go with their curtains or furniture. Of recent times though I have been reading that Realism is enjoying a resurgence in popularity and so I hope this will continue to improve. I think it is most important to paint what you enjoy, what you feel that way you will achieve your best.
If you've sold art to people other than family and close friends, what marketing did you carry out to obtain those sales?
I have sold at art exhibitions run by schools and colleges, at a solo exhibition and also from my website where most of my sales come from. I demonstrate at any show that I can get an opportunity to do so. This gets you known as a person, not a vague name and is good PR. I try to promote my work on as many sites on line as I can and send out emails to many as well. It may not be the person who you send it too, it may be someone that they pass it on to that has an interest in purchasing an art work. I also have a presence on Facebook and Twitter.
What do you do when you aren't creating or marketing your art?
I work on my art in one way or another most days. Other times I am spending time with family and love to travel both here in NZ and overseas, last year visiting Alaska a dream held for many years. I also enjoy photography.
Do you have any regrets as an artist?
Not any more. I wanted to be an art teacher since I was seven years old but in those days the word was 'dont be silly, go and get a real job!' In years since I tried once more to follow that path however it was not to be as bringing up three young children on my own meant that my studies would have come to a peak at the time theirs did and I was unable then to follow that path without risking their educations. In more recent times I have taught adults locally and also gave a four day intensive workshop in Canada last year.
Now I am happy with the way my life's journey with art has progressed and look forward to continuing to grow as an artist and follow my dreams along that path.
Where to find Lorna Allan's art:
Facebook Profile: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#/Lornallan?v=info&ref=profile