Emerging artist Alison Causer spends all day in a room without a window. But she is not hemmed in.
When asked what we need to know about her, Alison rapidly responds, "I love yellow." The sun shines in Alison's studio (which also serves as her living room). With her bold abstract paintings, baring evocative titles such as "Self Portrait" and "What I see When I Close My Eyes," it's clear that windows are unnecessary for this artist.
On a recent visit, soft jazz is playing in the background, calming me in preparation for the onslaught of vibrant hues covering the 4 walls of Alison's studio. Alison says she finds color "irresistible" and that is as obvious as the color wheel on her mood board.
Canvases are everywhere. Alison explains that she creates her very gestural, colorful abstract art quickly. Since she paints in oil, which takes ample drying time, she works on multiple pieces at once. This allows her to employ the layering technique that gives her paintings such great depth.
Alison likens her paintings to a puzzle, and each day she searches for the key. When the code is cracked, the piece is done. It's not surprising that this artist begins each work day with a 15 minute meditation. In those quiet moments, she reaches deep inside to the root of her creativity, explaining that in essence, painting is an "awareness of yourself."
Meditation often is followed by Alison rapidly executing small studies that serve as a warm up for her larger works. Charmingly, these small studies are painted on the 8"x 8" paint swatches supplied by house paint company Benjamin Moore, quite familiar to most interior designers.
This very visual person also turns to the correspondence of Vincent Van Gogh when in need of inspiration. Alison urges us to "forget the rumors," adding that Van Gogh's letters prove that there was a "real human behind every stroke of his art."
Alison was trained at the Columbus College of Art and Design (CCAD) in Columbus Ohio, but she has been an artist ever since she can remember. She fondly recalls a gift at age 7 or 8 from her parents of a flip top desk with compartments along the side to hold paint brushes and watercolors. Once, as a youngster, she executed a painting on a piece of bark. She still beams today when she remembers how impressed her father was at the time, and how they both gloried in her "pure enjoyment of creation."
Alison's training at CCAD was quite formal and focused on realism. While she has mastered the techniques needed to produce still lifes, landscapes and the like, non-pictorial, conceptual works are what come from within her. Color, and the ability to forge different emotions by combining various shades, are her motivating force. Though she is an an abstract artist, she loves Impressionism, and the artists Matisse, Monet and Van Gogh, citing their masterful use of color as the reason they appeal to her.
After art school, Alison first became an interior designer (Aha! That's where she got the idea to use the Ben Moore color swatches for her works on paper.) But soon she missed her art, and left Ohio to come to New York "for an adventure." At the time, she only had one friend there.
She is now happily ensconced in Brooklyn with her partner Michael, spending her time painting, teaching art and doing a bit of interior styling "to help pay the bills." Her goal this year is to paint full time. And while Alison and Michael's living room-cum-studio may lack a window, it certainly does not lack in views.
Image Credits // Header image, first three images of artwork and image of Alison painting, courtesy of Alison Causer. All other photographs by Lynn Byrne of Decor Arts Now.