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Art & Life with Deborah M. Allen

Today we’d like to introduce you to Deborah M. Allen.

Deborah M., please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
Fine art painter, specialty renderer, and designer. I was born in San Diego County and raised on the Texas Gulf Coast, where, at a very early age, I was exposed to art and design in my grandfather’s studio on Galveston Island. I come from a long line of artists including my great grandmother who studied with Georgia O’Keefe. Large oil paintings and the intensity of real life colors and texture from the seaside, indigo skies, and storms rolling in over the Gulf, inspired my first drawings and paintings.

After completing my Bachelor’s degree in Communication Design and Fine Art at Texas State University, I returned to Southern California to find my path. Fortunately, my skill set included a unique rendering style which landed me a position at the British luxury goods company Clive Christian. I worked under many talented designers and became the “Artist” who illustrated their beautiful designs.

A chance meeting in Santa Fe, New Mexico in 2002 with well-known artist/sculptor Bill Worrell was the tipping point which prompted me to turn my creative energies to my fine art growth. Per Bill’s encouragement, I began the exploration of finding my voice as a painter. This new-found freedom in a fluid painting style contrasted with my more tightly rendered illustrations. This realized looseness prompted the distinctive style reflected in my fine art work today.

I continue to utilize my drawing and design abilities working with architects, designers, builders and long-time work partner Joe Worland, owner of H & J Cabinets to create beautiful collaborations as custom interiors cabinetry and furniture. I also am fortunate to collaborate with other artists by drawing conceptual ideas for sculptures in public places. My most frequent collaborator is with bronze sculptor, Clint Howard of Deep in the Heart Art Foundry near Austin, Texas.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
As a very young artist, my first love was watercolor and subsequently everything I have painted since lends itself to that style and translucent feeling. Since the reflection of light is so much a part of what inspires me, I enjoy using iridescent colors to capture the light in interesting ways and mixing it with colors that mark moments in time for me.

My work is abstract with nods to water, landscape and nature that surrounds all of us, but it all starts with very simple details and grows into something larger. I like to paint on a textured surface such as custom-made birch wood panels, a heavy tooth watercolor paper or a gessoed canvas with a carefully created surface. These textures absorb color in a way that pick up the nuances of emotions.

The little things are what inspired me as a child, and the little things are the start of what inspire me today. My inspiration can start with something as simple as peeling bark on a Eucalyptus tree with many layers shockingly bright. The Super Moons have remained a strong inspiration as they get so close to us and cause the animals and water to do new things; and the new colors that came from the blood orange eclipse last year – we just had to make sure we got up early enough to catch it! Texture and color in washed up sea shells, shadows falling on lakes, lily pads bumping together and making larger forms, scores of colors in one interesting leaf or ocean tides that move and change the texture on the surface of the water are all the start to something larger in my mind.

I do not have to go far to be inspired. Walking anywhere with my 3-year-old son, Rowan, can easily spark inspiration as kids find and point out the most interesting perspectives from their fresh new minds. Georgia O’Keefe said that ‘It takes time to see…’ and I cannot agree more. And I believe that it takes patience and practice to look outside of our daily routines to stop, watch and listen to truly begin to see.

Do you think conditions are generally improving for artists? What more can cities and communities do to improve conditions for artists?
My mentor, Bill Worrell, once said, ‘Paint, paint, paint, paint, paint! Do not stop painting no matter what you do!’ Getting up every day and showing up with readiness to create, plan and/or design is essential. Being open and positive about new opportunities with caution is also a learned must. Many artists have multiple trades to make a living. Therefore, doing whatever it takes to carve out time in your life to consistently create is considered success in my mind.

I recently heard this quote in a documentary, “Success is the ability to move from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill. Being an artist requires the ability to constantly evolve, learn, and grow. From every creative experiment, I try to uncover a new insight to add beauty and light and to share it with gusto.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
Come to my studio for a visit! Contact me through our website for a tour of the studio and to see my latest work. My latest inspirations and projects can also be viewed on Instagram under the name @deballenart.

Be sure to view my special fine bone china collaboration with Emily Johnson, owner of 1882 Ltd. (a design lead ceramics company based in England), in creating a collection of fine bone china tableware called ‘Jenny’ and is available on our website. The ‘Jenny’ collection has been a favorite of coastal elegance style makers and has been featured in multiple editorials and found its way to stylish homes on both the East and West Coasts. A collection of artful gift items including hand painted tote bags, specialty hand painted serving trays and greeting cards are also available through.

Contact Info:

  • Website:
  • Email:
  • Instagram: Deballenart
  • Facebook: Deborah M. Allen

Image Credit:
Please credit these photographers:
Eric Stoner (Me pouring paint)
Shirley Salvatore (Blue and white painting on the beach and profile pic)
Brenda Ponnay (dishes on top of painting)

Getting in touch: SDVoyager is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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