Allison Ford’s abstract paintings are so vibrant, so layered and so well conceived in their use of white space that you’d think she’d been painting all of her life. But in fact, even though she’s sold hundreds of paintings and has her art hanging in galleries all along the East Coast, the Upstate artist only began painting seriously about five years ago.
It’s not that she wasn’t interested in art all along; it just took her a while to work up her courage.
“I grew up in Charleston, which I consider to be an arts town,” Ford says, “and that was something that was always of interest to me. I always dabbled in different art projects growing up, but I never really sat down to do anything seriously. In college, my roommate was a studio art major, so I would go to the studio with her because I was fascinated by the process of painting. But also because she was so good, I was intimidated by the process.”
Ford dabbled in printmaking and sculpting in college, but eventually shifted gears and earned a law degree from the University of Georgia. But she never forgot her love of art, and after her first child was born she decided to give painting another try. And she found herself once again in talented company.
“I took a class at the Greenville Center for Creative Arts,” Ford says. “Everyone in the class was a well-known artist except for me and this one other lady.”
This time, though, Ford didn’t feel intimidated. And she actually took some inspiration from her newborn child.
“I felt like I didn’t have anything to lose,” she says. “I knew that I didn’t know what I was doing, and I accepted that. And it just felt like a lot of pressure was off at that point; I just started to really adopt a childlike approach to painting. Children, they think their work is good without anyone else having a say about it; that was kind of eye-opening for me. Let’s just keep doing this and let’s not worry about what other people think. Some people are going to like your work, some people are not, and that’s fine.”
That approach paid off, and Ford developed an abstract, tasteful style that got her noticed.
“My first commission was before I even started selling artwork or was even thinking about it,” she says with a laugh. “I do think it was sort of an interesting transition when you realize that people will actually buy your work. You start to sell things, and then you have to get systems in place, and it grows from there.”
But it’s not just about expressing herself or selling her work. Ford is a law clerk to a federal judge by day, and she has a young family to care for; painting serves a therapeutic purpose for her.
“Having the freedom to go where I want to creatively is so relaxing to me,” she says. “I’m able to give myself an outlet, so I’m able to give other aspects of my life my better self.”
“This piece is a loose abstract of a farm area,” Ford says. “There’s a house and a barn, and the land around it, a memory of my grandparents and growing up poor on borrowed land, working very hard to build a better a life for their future and their children. That was the inspiration for this piece. One thing I always want to keep in mind is my family history, My parents’ generation and my grandparents’ generation who had to work through unfortunate times in the civil rights era, segregation, working to have a better life, working to get off the farm. And that’s an experience that I want to share with my kids; I want them to know what our history is and where we’re going.”