While most students are getting ready for bed or finishing up homework, Allison Nill, a junior art major with a concentration in painting, is up late at the Scarfone art studio. Sitting on a stool in the open-aired studio, Nill gets in the creative mindset needed to produce her next piece. Bastille’s “Pompeii” echoes through the studio on a speaker behind her.
And the walls kept tumbling down
In the city that we love
Great clouds roll over the hills
Bringing darkness from above
She first sketches out a female figure in ink. Next she adds a piece of wood behind the white canvas, which creates a unique grainy texture.
But if you close your eyes,
Does it almost feel like
Nothing changed at all?
With a paintbrush in hand Nill adds a layer of acrylic, ink, oil and charcoal. Her work starts to morph into a mix between abstract and realism.
“I like that I’m able to express myself in a unique way and how soothing it is to sit down and paint,” Nill said.
As a freshman she changed from a psychology and biology major to art because of her desire to paint. Also, she wanted to explore the freedom art gives each individual.
“I did it for half a year and said I can’t, I have to quit.” I just want to be doing art,” Nill said. “A lot of the classes here are so free it allows you to explore what you’re good at.”
Starting out drawing smaller pieces in ink, she transitioned to use more mediums to paint. Nill has considered changing her minor to sculpture so that she can explore a new medium.
If Nill is stressed she paints to find relief. “Whatever experience I have that day will come through in my paintings,” Nill said. “I’m experimenting from it.”
The life of an art major is not for the weary. Nill revealed that she has stayed long hours to finish pieces. One night she stayed up almost until the sun was up to complete eight pieces.
“Sometimes I’m in [the Scarfone studio] the entire night. One time I was in there, I pretty much spent the night and I didn’t even realize it when I looked up from my painting it was 6 a.m.,” Nill said.
“Some people assume my artwork is dark because of the dull colors I use but that’s not alway the case” Nill said.
For each of the pieces she uses a piece of wood in the background to create the same texture for each. She also concocts the same ingredients for each painting acrylic, ink, oil and charcoal for each.
Many of her paintings include several similar aspects such as the same shades of black, tan, and brown, along with aspects of contorted figures that are almost blurred between the foreground and middleground.
“Just because it looks dark it might not be necessarily what I’m trying to convey,” Nill said. “You have to look at the theme to decide what the artist is trying to portray through all the pieces. Its different but now that I’m learning these different approaches it’s helping me become better.”
She has done various freelance work including, creating an album cover for the band All That Is On My Mind. Nill previously attended the University of Colorado, where she met the band and was then asked to make their album cover.
In the course of several years her work has been displayed in the Scarfone Gallery including Katy, Look Inside, and Jayme.
In the special problems painting course, advanced painting students are given the freedom to create their own subjects.
“What you’re doing is making inspiring work around your artist statement,” Nill said. “So you develop a concept that you like and all the work you make during that semester goes along with that.”
Nill plans on either taking taking a year off to do a internship and then going to grad school. “In the art world in order to be really respected you need to have your masters,” Nill said. “I also want to learn more because everyone teaches different styles.”
“I want to sell my artwork and have my artwork in different galleries,” Nill said.
Nill hopes to work for a big company like Nickelodeon or MTV where she could be given a position as a creative director.
Theresa Stanton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org