Jamie Allen is a multimedia artist, with a focus on collage & painting. Born in Connecticut, she’s been living in Brooklyn since 2010. She’s working towards an MFA in painting at New York Studio School, and is proposed to graduate in Spring 2020.
© Jamie Allen
Tell us a little bit about your artistic process – do you base your work off models, do you have a pre-conceived notion about the palette, or does it sort of evolve as you go?
My current practice is based from observation. I have a deep interest in abstracting the image before me, and allowing it to exist in a new space. Since beginning grad school in the fall, I’ve been testing out a multitude of styles and techniques, which has allowed a better understanding of my natural artistic tendencies. Color is one of the most important factors in my work, and I usually have an idea of a palette, but that typically changes as the painting progresses.
Where do you seek inspiration?
I think the most important part of maintaining inspiration is to constantly surround yourself with work that is stimulating. Living in New York, we’re incredibly lucky to have so many museums and galleries just around the corner. Viewing work in person is just as important, possibly even more so, than it is seeing photo reproductions. When I’m unable to get to a museum, I turn to the library at my school, which is filled with an incredible collection of books on any artist imagined. Instagram has also become an extremely important platform for artists in this age of social media, and I’ll commonly discover new artists simply by following work that excites me.
© Jamie Allen
How has your style changed over the years?
Before I started graduate school I was primarily making intuitively-based abstraction. My work was completely nonrepresentational; the image would appear thru the conversation between each new brush mark. It was emotionally-driven painting, which was inspired by my love of the Abstract Expressionist movement. Since beginning school in the fall, I have been painting more perceptually, basing much of my work from life-observation. I still consider myself an abstract artist, but I’ve been challenging myself to abstract the object before me, rather than to completely invent an image from imagination.
Who are some of your favorite artists?
Mercedes Matter, Henri Matisse, Cecily Brown, Pablo Picasso, Lee Krasner, Hieronymus Bosch, and Wassily Kandinsky.
© Jamie Allen
How long do you typically work on a piece – and when you hit a block, how do you navigate that?
I try not to over work my paintings, but that is an impossible rule to apply to all of my work. It depends on the intention. I enjoy the simplicity and air of paintings that appear to be done in one session, but I also enjoy paintings that have visible, worked layers. Personally, I prefer to work on multiple paintings at once, as it prevents me from becoming too involved with one work at a time. When I feel blocked, I will often make drawings or small collages of that painting, because I’ve found that working in a different material helps me to understand the space better. Collage is a huge part of my painting process.
Which work are you most proud of?
Somehow, my larger paintings (above 4 feet) seem to be my most accomplished works. Working big complicates the process, creating a challenge for me, so usually more time is put into it’s completion. I’m also very proud of a series of 5 to 20-minute drawings I made simply by using a twig dipped in ink.
© Jamie Allen
Jo Wood Brown has been such an important influence on you — what can you say about her and her mentorship?
Since I began working with Jo in 2012, she remains an important source of inspiration for me. Her knowledge on artists, and painting techniques seems to be endless and I find myself often turning to her for advice. I think it’s important to have that connection with an artist of another generation that isn’t involved in your “school education”. You can technically learn what it means to be a working artist, but until you’re exposed to that experience in the studio first hand, the concept won’t seem real. I think the most important thing I learned from Jo was that being a working artist is a dream that can absolutely become reality.