Introducing...Alison Duncan to Well + Wonder. We are so thrilled to let the cat out of the bag and share with y’all that Alison Duncan is joining our collective next week!Painting is a source of joy for Alison. Ever in awe of how the arrangement of colors, marks, and texture can draw a viewer in and tell a story, she uses layer upon layer to create rich, multidimensional pieces. Alison is a self-taught, contemporary artist consistently inspired by her surroundings: her children, her faith, traveling, color combinations, music, nature, fashion and interiors. While creating has always been an outlet for her, it wasn’t until she left her job as a corporate attorney to stay at home with her girls that she rediscovered her love for for painting. She seeks to create pieces that people will enjoy looking at in their homes for years to come, always discovering something new. Alison lives in Marietta, Georgia, with her husband, Ryan, and their four daughters, Piper, Bethany, Hannah, and Avery. Join us on Tuesday at noon EST as we introduce Atlanta based artist Alison and her latest series of bold and colorful abstract paintings. Welcome, Alison!
What is currently on your nightstand?
Oh, I’m about to be outed as a maximalist, ha! Let’s see…there is a lamp and a handmade jewelry dish. Sitting on a little acrylic easel, I have a small oil painting by artist Allison Rollins of four little ballerinas that I had commissioned while I was pregnant with my fourth daughter. I also have a tortoise shell box to keep chapstick, (neglected) cuticle cream, and ear buds. And because I am a serial book-starter, there is a stack of in-process books at various stages, including a little book about prayer that I read with my girls, a novel, a parenting book, and a book by one of my favorites, Tim Keller--atop which sits a pair of readers (hello 40!).
Who is your biggest influence as an artist and why?
Oh for sure it’s my girls. I love it when we get time to play in my studio -- I’m constantly saving their scraps because I find so much inspiration in the color combinations they come up with and the fact that they only operate on instinct, without over-thinking anything. They are always flowing with such creativity, it’s contagious!
Two of my favorite visual artists are Monet and Joan Mitchell. I fell in love with Monet as a child and never cease to find something new to appreciate in his work. And I think perhaps as a contemporary female abstract artist, I am certainly influenced by the work Joan Mitchell accomplished--I personally found so much freedom in her gestural brushstrokes the first time I saw them!
Tell us about your childhood. What is the most memorable moment as a young person?
As a competitive gymnast, I spent a lot of time in the gym with my teammates and they were like family to me. Outside of the gym, I have fond memories of us riding our bikes several miles to the local pool in the summer, blasting 90’s grunge from a radio secured to our handlebars. Feels like quintessential Gen Y.
If you could only have one supply in your art studio, what would it be and why?
Oh this is hard! I’ll have to go with a flow medium that allows me to create a washy first layer on the canvas. It’s become an essential part of my process, despite it being nearly unseen in the final product.
What is your favorite room in your house? Describe it.
Our kitchen--it’s the life of our home. It’s not big, but it’s where we entertain, have birthday parties, my girls do schoolwork at the table, we cook and blast music, we play countless board games--and there is a bay window where our table sits and my girls love to look outside to spot different birds while we eat.
What is your biggest score online?
Oh I found a beautiful antique secretary from a sweet family a few years ago. When I went to pick it up, it was so fun to hear their college-aged daughter share memories of using it to write notes and do homework. As an added bonus, they were donating all of the money from items they were selling to an organization working to fight human trafficking, which is a cause near and dear to my heart. So I just love that piece for so many reasons!
What is the benefit of buying art through a collective? What do you recommend for those that are new to buying original art?
I think for some, walking into a gallery can be intimidating, and I feel that a collective is so approachable, especially for first-time collectors. I also love that you can be introduced to so many different artists and get to know them on some level. I would say to buy what speaks to you--purchase that piece that you cannot stop thinking about.
If you have the entire day to spend in an art museum, which one and why?
My husband and I took a quick trip to Washington, D.C. several years ago and we missed the National Gallery of Art. It houses so many of the greats that I’ve never seen in person and I’d absolutely love to go.
What is your favorite hotel and what makes it special?
Palmer House in Chicago. My husband used to occasionally travel to Chicago for work and there were some weekends where I’d fly out to meet him for a weekend away. We’d normally stay at Palmer House--it has such incredible architecture and history, and is in a great part of the city. We had so much fun exploring and wandering around--we’ve stumbled upon an ice-cream tasting event, once Ryan ran the Chicago Marathon, we saw Hamilton, and we saw Adele (my all time favorite concert!).
If you were a lipstick color would you be red, pink, or clear and why?
How about a tinted chapstick?! I do lipstick maaaaybe once a year, but other than that I keep things very simple. I love a clear chapstick or a tinted pomegranate Burt’s Bees.
I can never get on a plane without….
A book/audiobook, or a puzzle book. I like crosswords or a nerdy logic puzzle book.
How did you get into the world of art?
I’ve been drawing or painting for as long as I can remember. Before I got into competitive sports as a child, I remember going to Saturday morning art classes and participating in some art competitions. I did not pursue art in my education and put it aside until recently. It was when I was home on maternity leave with my twins that I found myself needing a creative outlet, and it occurred to me to pick up a paintbrush again. I created just for myself and our home. After a while, I posted some of my paintings and people began to purchase my work, which was completely shocking and a humbling experience. I was working a full-time job, which I then left to be at home with our growing family, but also slowly creating and slowly sharing it with others--and slowly I have been learning and developing my style. The organic growth it’s taken is exciting for me and I really love where I am today.
What do you do to relax?
Sometimes it’s as simple as a good work out, a glass of wine, or a bubble bath! If I really need to unwind, I love a good massage or when it’s time to get my hair cut and colored--any time I can be pampered a bit is a win for me! Our house is pretty full with a lot of energy in it, so for me to relax often involves going somewhere by myself for a bit!
When do you get the biggest surge of inspiration?
There is so much around me that I draw inspiration from--nature, photography, my girls, fashion, interior design, the list goes on...I think I have more inspiration stored up than I have time to release it! However, when I have a paintbrush in my hand, inspiration flows best when I’m not forcing it or stressed. I often find that when I take a step back whenever I feel pressure to create, and I take the time to get in a good headspace, the work comes so much more easily and I love what I create so much more.
Prediction for the Color of 2023?
Oh, I’m thinking a sage green.
What is your idea of a date night? Dinner and a movie or dancing all night?
My husband and I loooove to eat, so trying new restaurants or visiting our favorite spots with seasonal menus is always a good idea. We also have season tickets to the Fox Theater in Atlanta, which gives us a built-in date night when life gets too busy to plan, so we will have a fun dinner and see a show every couple of months and it’s perfect for us!
Tell us about your favorite painting that you have created.
This is always changing, but right now it was first piece I finished this year--it’s a large coral and muted-orange piece, with pops of other colors. It hasn’t found it’s forever home yet, but I know it will find where it’s supposed to be. I love its depth and the process for how it all came together. It was a piece I struggled with for days and days, and then all of a sudden everything just clicked and it felt easy. I feel like that’s how all my favorite pieces go--I have to go through the struggle to get to the good stuff! Probably a metaphor for life in there…
One piece of advice for buying original art?
Always buy what you love, whether or not it “goes” with your furniture or room. If you have a connection to a piece or it resonates with you in some way, you will find the perfect spot for it and will enjoy it each time you see it!