The female figure has been an artistic source of inspiration for centuries and Allison Meyler should know - it’s rich complexity was the inspiration in her latest series Ladies in Conversation. Here we explore how she showcases femininity in all it’s beauty, strength, grace and imperfectly perfect imperfections.
What unique insights about femininity have you discovered through your art?
Painting the female figure has made me think a lot about this topic. I think when I first started with this series, I was so intimidated by the subject and worried about the end result of each painting. I knew I wasn’t interested in portraying the figure in perfect proportions, but I wanted to capture the strong, bold, confident aspect of femininity. And, as is typical of my work, this includes drips, stray marks, and underdrawings. At first maybe they look like “mistakes” but they are often my favorite parts of the painting, and I think they represent the “imperfections” that make us each unique.
Can you tell us about a piece that you're particularly proud of?
It’s maybe not one piece, but often the first piece of a new series. This is probably because it feels like a bit of a breakthrough in my process when I do something new. I usually feel particularly attached to that piece and often end up keeping it for myself. There is one in my studio that was an early figure piece and the first time I used collaged paper - people keep asking to buy it and I have to tell them I’m keeping it. I really need to get that framed and hung in my house!
Something we always like asking artists is what drew them to their work. Is there something in your life that sparked you to draw the female figure?
Part of my process over the years has been to challenge myself to tackle a subject or genre that feels particularly daunting when I feel I’m stuck or in a bit of a rut. It started with my series of “Faces” which was primarily self-portraits. It was something I never saw myself doing but wanted to step out of my comfort zone. It was an awesome exercise and kept me engaged for quite a while. When I started to feel in a rut with that direction, I thought “What is something else I would never imagine myself being able to paint?” And the female figure came to mind!
How do you stay creative and find new sources of inspiration for your artwork?
For my figures in particular, I do love to draw inspiration from art history. Not even necessarily the super famous artists, but sometimes I just Google and find images that I like for one reason or another. I might use that as a jumping off point. I’m also lucky to live close to NYC so I try to get into all of the amazing museums and galleries as much as I can. Travel to new places also serves as a real boost to my creativity – whenever I return from a trip, I feel like new work really flows more easily – I think I’m influenced by new color combinations and patterns without even realizing it.