Artist Insights: Marilyn Allis

Artist Insights: Marilyn Allis

Ten years after photographing this majestic lion, Marilyn wins the Pegasus Prize for her energetic and colourful acrylic painting entered into the Portfolio Plus competition.

“It was the shapes and colours that fascinated me. The beautiful movement of this lion having fun just had to be captured. It was a painting that was long overdue.”

We are delighted to award her a £50 art materials voucher and share her Artist Insights with you.

1. You won this months Portfolio Plus £50 Pegasus Art voucher. Congratulations! Do you like entering art competitions, do you think it’s valuable?

 Well strangely when I first started painting 24 years ago, I entered a lot of competitions, I found it was a great way to push yourself and to try things you wouldn’t normally do, taking you out of your comfort zone. When you won something it gave you a great boost and was so encouraging. It was at this time 1999 I won artists of the year with the SAA. I had been painting for 18 months.

I haven’t really entered very much for about 20 years, but my husband Paul, was encouraging me to try again. Hence I entered the rolling lion into the Artists & Illustrator competition.

Artist Marilyn Allis

2. What inspired your winning painting? Tell us about the process and materials too please!

I like to paint from my own photographs, I photographed  this beautiful lion about 10 years ago and never got around to painting it. I must admit the shot was from a long way off and was a little fuzzy. With new technology on my computer, I managed to enhance the photograph so I could see it more clearly. With my loose style I thought  I might get away it.  The shapes and colours that fascinated me. The beautiful movement of this lion having fun just had to be captured. It was a painting long overdue.

I painted the canvas turquoise as I’m a little addicted to this colour. Then I drew the rough shape of my upside down lion. Next I blocked in some dark shapes to see if this composition would work and was placed correctly on the canvas. (You can’t cut off a bit of canvas if its not in the right place like watercolours.) I then dipped a large flat brush into about 3 colours and made sweeping marks on the canvas, reloading often with paint and adding lighter colours as I progressed. I used Atelier interactive acrylics.

Peyton Loves Luca by Marilyn Allis

3. Are you a full time artist or do you balance your painting with other jobs?

I am now a full time artist. I started balancing my career as a superintendent Registrar alongside teaching at the beginning of my art  journey. My mother often commented she didn’t know why I was messing around with the art stuff and not focussing on my proper job. Gradually the work which was teaching, demonstrating, writing art books, making DVD’s and Tutoring on TV took over naturally and I stopped conducting marriages. I was lucky that art career evolved and I gradually did less of the other until they just stopped.

Now since lockdown my art journey has evolved yet again. All work stopped overnight, so it was time to re think and evaluate what I could do, to carry on working as an artist. I had stock as I would sell a lot of materials at demonstrations and workshops in normal times, So with what I had, I made up kits with On- Demand tuition links, that helped to sell materials I had in stock. I also set up a subscription in 3 tiers with monthly tuitions. Again so much technology to learn. This was very scary to start with. I love it now. I have learnt to edit and put together the lessons. Something I had always planned to do, just never had the time. I also found that ZOOM demonstrations were awesome with no travelling involved and the art group can have an edited version of the demonstration to watch as many times as they wish. I love the interaction and everyone can see the demonstration so Clearly. Another positive.

Bee painted in resin by Marilyn Allis

4. What is your preferred medium and which brands do you favour?

I love Watercolour and acrylics equally. I also like to experiment with mixed media, collage and resins. It depends what mood I’m in. Watercolours and very quick and spontaneous, acrylics I come back to and they evolve. Mixed media frees you up. I love Ateliers Interactive acrylics for acrylic painting. They seem to last longer and don’t dry so easily as other acrylics. I also like the fact they are interactive and can be brought back to the mixing stage or even removed totally if something goes very wrong.

 I use an assortment of watercolour manufacturers. Some have colours which are better than others. I have also produced two of my own water colours as I couldn’t find them on the market place, Rich Sepia and Dorset Blue. I wanted a very dark Sepia with a strong tonal range and the same with a Blue so a whole painting can be painted in just one colour.  A great exercise.

Carousel Honfleur demo Ongar by Marilyn Allis

5. Were you formally trained or self-taught and do you think this matters?

I wasn’t formally trained, I attended a class when I moved home for just a couple of hours a week. It soon became apparent how addictive painting is. I hired out videos (Yes it was a while back) books anything I could access, I couldn’t stop. I visited exhibitions and became part of a art group, with the chance to exhibit. This really helps you to place your work along side others some you will think,” Yes I’ve done well” and along side others you think “I must try harder”

I would have loved to have trained in art formerly, It wasn’t something that wasn’t encouraged when I was at school. I have always loved drawing from a very early age. I guess not much was really expected from us at school. I had a lovely art teacher but it wasn’t something you were allowed to think of doing as a career.

6. Do you paint every day and what keeps you going?

I try to paint most days, It flows better if you’re in the right frame of mind. I feel its like practising a musical instrument 20 minutes a day keeps you tuned in. Its wonderful when the art just flows, This happens when I am painting a lot. I have so many ideas I want to try, just not enough hours in the day,

 I love my life with art. I even get to travel the world teaching on cruise ships and guess what. I have inspiration  and ideas from my travels. It couldn’t be any better. I will never finish learning. There are always new products to try, different ways of working a painting, it will never be boring. I will never ever learn enough and there really isn’t enough hours in the day.

Pelourinho El Salvador by Marilyn Allis

7. Do you attend art classes yourself?

I love to watch others demonstrate, everyone is different and you can always learn something new. I love the thought process of how an artist arrives at his destination.  Simple techniques and the use of mediums and colour.

I also find whilst teaching you are learning from your pupils, they might not realise this. Seeing a subject differently, approaching with unusual colours. Problems everything is helping me to grow.

8. Which websites can you recommend for resources and support for an artist. Is it important to be part of a group, society or club? How do you stay in the loop?

YouTube is very useful for seeking information on new products and new ways of approaching something if you’re not sure. I have found art Society’s  invaluable, art books and numerous ways of buying products. I do prefer online buying. Facebook nowadays helps so  much to know what is going on mixing with other artists.

9. Do you find social media useful to you as an artist?

Social media works very well for me. Facebook I understand a little more, You can get lots of work this way. Its also a free way of advertising. I’m getting used to Instagram and twitter I must admit haven’t got there. Its again very different than years ago when you issued a STOP PRESS to the local newspapers about your exhibition, now its much easier. Last week I went up to the best nanny ever, when my 11 year old discovered her nanny on YouTube. It was by accident as she looks up lots of information. She messaged me to say it was so cool, her nanny is on YouTube. She’s told all her friends. What more could I ask for, I have a fan.

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