July Artist Profile – Val Allen
Nurturing her talent as an artist over the years has seen Val’s passion for expressing the essence of landscape featured in many exhibitions.
Where are you from originally, Val – and how long have you lived in the Hastings area?
I was born and grew up in Sydney on the North Shore. There followed some years living in Victoria before returning to Sydney, then hobby farming at Wingham for 6 years, and finally Port Macquarie from 1986 to the present.
When did you first begin to take art seriously … were you a prolific creator from a young age?
After leaving school, my ambition was to make a career in art and to begin study with that aim. Circumstances changed then with a family death, and it was not possible. Employment, family commitments, etc. put that possibility aside, until at last I was able to begin painting in mid life.
I then made every effort to increase my knowledge with study, a great deal of ‘hands on’ painting, suburban exhibitions, workshops, including Willoughby Workshop (which was a turning point for me at that stage), several summer schools at the University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba, plus private tuition from reputable artists while in Sydney.
Since living in Port Macquarie and particularly during the last 20 years, it has been possible to concentrate almost fully on my work. During this time I have been pleased to have been included in several group and travelling shows and to hold a number of solo exhibitions in the Hastings area, more recently a focus show at the Glasshouse.
Describe your work … what is your style, what subjects do you like to capture, and what materials do you work with?
To describe my art practice is difficult for me. Colour has always been a strong focus, even at the very beginning, when I was doing a more figurative response. My environment is my source, which is a never ending exploration into the complexity of nature and indeed, people. Rather than give a detailed rendition, I try to search for and hopefully express the essence of the landscape or whatever subject is in mind. I would like to feel that the paintings evoke a hopefully pleasant response, which may recall some memory of experience in their lives.
I mainly work with acrylic paint, though in the early days I used oils − and may do so again. Occasionally I have enjoyed portraiture, but mostly the outdoors is my strong motivation. My rather large garden is another rather consuming occupation.
What method do you use to create … do you work from photos or memories captured in another time and place, or do you work in the moment?
I tend to work from my memories and experiences of life over so many years. I have a constant respect for the extraordinary beauty of our surroundings in this area and also for the contrast of harshness and dryness of other areas away from the coast − though not this year, with excessive rain!
Who has been an inspiration to you and helped fire up your creative streak?
It is hard to list those who have been an inspiration, as so many artists and people have inspired me along the way. I suppose the American Expressionists were an influence earlier, and from then on I have enjoyed so many abstract talented painters and others with different perspectives.
What pieces are you working on at the moment?
At present I am working on some paintings about the sea, mangroves and waterways in all their varying colours, moods – so much there, with each day a different concept.
What’s an artistic project you’d like to tackle one day … I am hoping to do 2 or 3 larger works relating to the rainforest, which I am also very passionate about − and have been for many years. If these are successful and eventually pass my harsh criticism, hopefully there will be an opportunity to exhibit those later on.
Where can people view your artwork?
From time to time some of my paintings from the Glasshouse collection can be viewed when on show at the Glasshouse. I can be emailed at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Interview by Jo Atkins.
This story was published in issue 80 Greater Port Macquarie Focus