Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Off the Wall

Kelly Allen

It's always nice to see some fresh ideas and with Kelly Allen you won't be dissapointed.  With her inventive use and mixture of images she sure puts a refreshing slant on things.

We had to meet up and have a chat, this is how it went...

RDC: It's really great to finally meet you Kelly can you tell us how San Francisco inspires your work? Are you currently living in the Mission District? Tell us a bit about that.

Currently, I am living in Oakland. I am part of the mass exodus of artists who are moving from San Francisco over to the East Bay. It was tough leaving the city that I love so much, and I am indeed inspired by San Francisco, and I always will be, but the availability and affordability of space in Oakland is where it's at for artists these days. Oakland is great in it's own way. It has a lot going on, and it's always sunnier and warmer than SF. But I used to live in the Mission District in San Francisco and loved every minute of it! I really love the mix of people who live there- artists, actors, musicians, food vendors, Latino families, crazy drunk bums... It's such a colorful neighborhood, both literally and figuratively. I love the special events that pop up, like the outdoor markets every weekend at the Bart Station, the random Sunday Street parades, the Critical Mass bike rides at night.... there's always so much going on. It also has some of the best weather in the city. While it will be gray and cold over in the Upper Haight, it will be 15 degrees warmer and sunny in the Mission. I'll always be inspired by the feeling of freedom that San Francisco offers. You can wear or do or eat or say anything, and be as outrageous as you possibly can, and no one will give you any grief about it. There's a woman who walks around the Mission with a 3 foot wide poster of her own smile. She just walks down the street, with her ginormous smile, just to get a smile out of others. Things like that inspire me.

RDC: We noticed you use many different types of media.  Is there any one kind that is your favorite?  What is your thought process when selecting a medium?

I need to have a variety of media to work with to keep myself excited and happy. I like each one for different reasons. Oils are so luscious and luminous, but the painting process is very slow. Gouache (which is opaque watercolor) has an amazing capacity for capturing detail. I love the opacity and the ability to paint little tiny things like whiskers, eyelashes, and the like. It also dries very fast, which is nice. Colored pencil is great for working larger on paper than I like to with gouache, and by layering the colors before blending them, it kind of feels like I'm painting, but without the whole paint-mixing and brush-washing part. It's immediate and I can work very quickly.
Different compositions will lend themselves to the various media I work in. I consider the size I want the image to be, and the feel I want it to have. Also, it's really refreshing to be able to complete a colored pencil drawing in a few days or a week after working on an oil painting that took a month or so.

RDC: Can you describe your working process for us?  Do you feel it's changed over the years?

I've been working within the same process for about 5 years. I collect imagery from old books and magazines, cut them out and archive them. Then I create collages as my sketches in a very intuitive way. I then decide what media I will work with and create a photorealistic drawing or painting of the collage. Then I take the collage apart so I can use the elements in future sketches. The process hasn't changed too much. I've become a more skilled painter with every piece image I paint, which is nice. It's more a matter of a shift in my subject matter and compositions. I'm shifting away from the animal-centric realm toward more of a human-centric realm with my new face/mask series. The reduction of elements emphasizes the importance of each one, and creates a different psychological feeling.
RDC: Are you a pizza or salad person?

SALAD!!!!! I love salad. All kinds. Forever salad.

RDC: What can we look out for in the future?

I recently began experimenting with combining my current approach with non-objective painting, so that there's a dichotomy of photorealistic painting combined with energetic strokes of pure color and amorphous form. It's a really exciting transition, and I look forward to exploring this direction further.

RDC: Tell us a bit about the show you have going on right now at Bold Hype!

I have 33 new and recent paintings and drawings at Bold Hype. The show is a collection of the breadth of the style and process I've been working in for the past 5 years. It covers my animal-centric works, as well as my face/mask works, and also some of my latest realist/non-objective works as well. There are oil paintings on canvas and panel, gouache paintings, laser-cut wood work, and colored pencil drawings, both large and small. This body of work is rooted in the practice of honoring nature and human life through the meditative, time-intensive process of seeing and painting very deeply and intimately. I relate to the works as though they are totems, both personally and universally symbolic and celebratory. It's rather my form of spirituality.
RDC: Any shout outs?

I have to give a shout out to Eric and Shannon at Bold Hype for giving me the opportunity to show my works in their beautiful gallery in Chelsea, and for all of their kindness and support. Also, to my husband Jay, who has been the best assistant, sounding-board, and advocate of my work. And also to all of the collectors of my work, both old and new. Those who buy original artwork, for whatever price, are very special people. Making the leap from loving a work to purchasing it is symbolic and means so much to every artist they support. My gratitude is limitless.

RDC: Thanks for hooking up and 'all the best' from all of us at the Collective.

More from Kelly A... HERE
Also check her work at Bold Hype Gallery... HERE


  1. Check out the current Kelly Allen show online at!

  2. Hey Bold Hype, just added a link on the Kelly A interview for you:)