year of birth: 1993
Q1: When did you start making art?
I’ve been drawing as a hobby all my life. Spring 2010 I made a decision to give art as a business a five year trial and to see where I stood then. That due date just passed. I can say that I’m hooked for life. You can get a good sample of something if you try it out for five years. Unusual way to look at it perhaps, but deadlines excite action.
Q2: What does inspire you?
Illuminated manuscript carpet pages, gardens, books, poetry, travel, and all things old and beautiful tickle me pink.
Q3: What are your techniques?
I use dip pens (Hunts 100 ink nibs) with oak-gall and India inks. 24kt gold leaf is applied for highlights. Some of my artworks are on calf-skin vellum and some on paper. I have a process video here: www.allisonstanleyart.com/video
I start by absorbing pretty things and gathering reference material. Then I plan everything out in pencil thumbnails and sketches. I scan, stretch, rotate and adjust the image digitally, print it out, light-trace it and refine it in pencil until I’m satisfied. There is a lot of mental preparation involved. I have to feel comfortable with all the penciling before inking. With ink, there is no undoing a mistake. It’s best to work out any errors in pencil. Inking is a breeze at that point. I work section by section, sometimes starting in one corner and inking my way to the other. It’s very relaxing.
If I have any gilding to do I will usually wait until the inking is completed. I lay down a rabbit-skin glue/red bole clay mixture. I use gold that is patent to a sheet of tissue. Once the glue has reached the correct tackiness I lay the gold down. What gold doesn’t stick to the glue mixture I brush away with a pony-hair brush.
Q4: What is the main idea or feeling behind your works?
Art means bringing the inner meaning to the surface where it can be seen, painting the outside with an image of what is on the inside. But the outside must remain an image or expression, for the inner meaning is essentially invisible, and can only be symbolized. Interpretation will always be necessary.
Ornament is beautiful, respectable, decorative, grand. Covering an image with ornament is like turning it to gold. It is revealing its inner nature on the visible surface, its beauty, value, glory. Ornament is a metaphor. The beautiful spirit of the subject becomes, metaphorically, the beautiful ornament. It is mysterious, for it is a revelation of something hidden and difficult to understand, like a translation of something not originally rendered in words: a mood, belief, or world-view. Metaphor is the essential element of poetry. Poetry is like melody. Gilding a thing is like setting it to music.
Q5: What is the main color of your art and why?
Black and white has an appeal for me. The gold adds a regal flair and something extra to the original work that cannot be appreciated without seeing it in person. It’s shiny.
Q6: What would you improve about your work and why?
I would like to make more botanically inspired art. It’s an ever interesting subject with boundless intricacies. My goals of line weight and value seem to be naturally developing over time. What takes care to improve is the message of the work. I want to waste no time on things unworthy of my pen.
Q7: Do you have any project for the future?
Yes, many of my artworks are for an illustrated poetry book. My sister Rebecca is writing the accompanying poetry. It’s an ambitious work and my mailing-list will announce its publication. It’ll be a while, but it’s in the works.
Q8: Describe yourself with 3 words capturing the essence of AllisonStanley.
As an art-brand: ornate, introspective and sweet.
As a person: austere, relaxed, goofball.
Q9: Show us (link) your very first work. Describe it from techniques till feelings.
This HERE is the oldest complete work I have online. I was inking with a hunt 102 nib and coloring in Corel Painter and Photoshop. I genuinely enjoyed inking and that was an encouragement because I was new to the medium. It has a lot of spunk and personality to it. I continue to sell prints of this although it’s older. It’s the favorite of the people who purchase it, although I only see the youth of it sometimes. For as simple a subject as it is I felt challenged working on it.
Q10: What did change from your first work till now?
I use a more flexible ink nib now. I stopped using color and I don’t rely on digital alterations. The largest change is the widening pool of influence I have. The red knight was influenced by Yoshitaka Amano, kabuki theatre, the sci-fi novel Dune and an anime/manga style. The more beauty I consume the more I can draw from in my art.
Q11: What is art for you? Escaping from reality or the essence of life?
There are a few lines from a poem that really capture what art means to me:
They are blind and they are dead:
We will wake them as we go;
There are words have not been said;
There are sounds they do not know.
We will pipe and we will sing–
With the music and the spring,
Set their hearts a wondering.
They are tired of what is old:
We will give it voices new;
For the half hath not been told
Of the Beautiful and True.
(George MacDonald, Robert Falconer, Book 2, Ch. 9)