Anne Allen has always been intrigued with trees. Even as a child, her quiet personality and connection with nature led her to explore life in drawings.
“Playing alone in the woods was my retreat as a child. I carried a paper notebook, sized to fit in my metal lunchbox. Drawings of trees and fallen logs over streams were rendered in soft charcoal and colored pencil.”
Years later, Anne develops her art from small color studies often painted on location and from her own photographs. She often recalls being captivated by the dead trees and wind-blown juniper bushes in the high desert of Abiquiu, New Mexico.
“Georgia O’Keeffe country, as the locals all it, is stark and still. At 8,300 feet, trees emerge from the red desert like petrified men and women.” Always awake to inspiration, Anne is rarely without her camera. Photographs from three painting trips to Ghost Ranch in New Mexico (1999-2013) are pinned around her studio and the subjects of early work.
“My life in art is also is also influenced by an immersion in classical and sacred music beginning in early childhood. Trips to art museums, combined with early baroque music concerts on the terrace, continue to spark bittersweet memories when I am by myself in my studio. I often paint to classical music.”
Anne describes her painting process as contemplative. “I keep a journal. I reflect on a subject and keep notes alongside miniature “thumbnail” color sketches. It’s important for me to pause before reaching for a pastel stick. Sometimes, it is challenging not to rush into a painting.”
Modernist painters, including Vincent van Gogh, Georgia O’Keeffe, Edgar Degas, Henri Matisse and recently, Casey Klahn influence Anne’s thinking about art. “Introspection is looking at the olive trees rendered by van Gogh, or being absorbed by a forest of unexpected hues painted by colorist Khlan. I long to see my trees in the window paintings of Matisse.”
After satisfying careers in marketing and arts administration, Anne came fully into her art eight years ago. She serves on the board of the Appalachian Pastel Society where she is the chair of non-juried group exhibitions. She joined the Southeastern Pastel Society, Atlanta, in 2017. Her works have been in juried group exhibitions in Florida and North Carolina. Anne makes time to participate in professional studio critiques at 310 Art Gallery, led by gallery director and art mentor, Fleta Monaghan.
A recent accomplishment was “being invited to exhibit a painting in the Appalachian Pastel Society National Exhibition in 2017. Juror of entries and awards was nationally recognized pastel artist, Dawn Emerson.”
Anne’s studio in Western North Carolina overlooks a hillside of huge boulders and stately trees. “My earliest memories of carrying sticks of charcoal and colored pencils into a wooded ravine are still within reach.”
Deep Calling, pastel, 6 x 6
Green Cathedral, pastel, 17 x 14
A Tree Is Like A Poem, pastel, 7 x 5
Falling In Love, pastel, 5 x 7
Trees Tell Their Stories, pastel, 20 x 16
Leaf Libretto, pastel, 5 x 7
Sing For Joy, pastel, 2 x 2