Since you all know how much I love chickens and love painting chickens it will come to you as no surprise that when I received a letter from reader Mary Harper pointing me to Allison Reed's website I was filled with delight. I wrote to Allison telling her I'd like to post about her on my blog. She responded with a clear artist statement which in her own words tells you what you want to know about this talented artist. Do yourself a favor and read what she has to say below and then go and look at more of her artwork (she sent me the new images to include with this post).
Her paintings capture birds (and other animals as well) with a wonderful gestural quality that is accurate but also expressive. Her use of color is bold and playful. There's a wonderful energy in the paintings and a stunning capacity to capture cher chickens at their compositional best.
She has an old taxidermy of a coyote head in her studio which she draws repeatedly—her constant model. As you look through her work you'll see how that coyote inspires her each time she views it. Also I learned from Mary Harper that Allison will often bring one of her chickens (she raises them) to life-drawing sessions at her studio. (If I ever get to northern California you can bet I'm going to schedule my trip accordingly!)
(Update Correction: I had that last bit wrong. Allison sometimes brings her chickens to Open Studio days which are when all the artists have their studios open for visiting and buying art. You can follow the link to find out when this group of North Coast artists holds these events. Those events will of course be equally fun to attend.)
You can visit Allison Reed's website, Fowl Gallery by clicking here. That page will also give you links to her blog, artwork on flickr, and email contact, or you can check for additional links at the end of this post.
Here's what Allison wrote:
I’m 26 and I’ve lived in the forest most of my life. The isolation of growing up on a mountainside influenced my life in many ways. I developed an enormous appreciation and curiosity about the changing seasons, wildlife and biological processes happening all around me. Seeing juncos migrate through during winter accompanied by the mushroom bloom, getting a glance of the rare kingfisher at our pond, watching tadpoles develop over time, finding a flicker feather in the forest, and the clouded salamander family that lived behind a drain pipe on the side of our house…The forest is a rich, diverse environment and it’s a sacred place to be a part of.
I have been drawing since I can remember, and in high school I learned to paint, and never stopped. This is all a long experiment to see what I am capable of doing over time. Creating art helps me understand and admire the complexities of the natural world we so rarely stop to notice. It takes me back to places I have visited, and makes foggy memories clear again. It helps me tackle fears and weaknesses I see in myself, through a constant game of self-improvement. I have learned to see clearly by drawing, because you have to notice every little thing in relation to everything else. I am addicted to it. I get a rush of euphoria and accomplishment when I create imagery I could have never imagined making.
And I paint my chickens. I grew up with a fondness for chickens and began selectively breeding them 15 years ago to see what happens from generation to generation. They have far more personality and intelligence than most people give them credit for, so I like to depict them in natural settings, enjoying the sun, bathing in the dust, roosting in trees, roosters courting their ladies and offering them the tastiest of tidbits in trade for bonds of friendship. They have a complex social ladder with kings, outcasts, cliques, and harems. I observe them for their whole lives, from the time they were eggs, to sometimes ten years later. I know them all as unique individuals, and I see them every day, so painting them is incredibly personal and a reflection of my life.
I'm confident that you will enjoy seeing Allison's work. Be sure to look through the paintings to see the lovely dog images as well as a very cool series of masks she made. (You'll find masks in some of her blog posts as well—including some in-progress masks, just keep feeling your way through the blog.)
Thank you Mary for drawing this artist to my attention!
And thank you Allison for sharing your background and letting us see a little bit into your world at the same time we see the output of your creative mind.
See some of Allison Reed's new paintings here.
Visit the flickr site of Allison Reed here.