With an eye for design and a love for the outdoors, mixed media artist, Alison Galvan redefines the world of art. Her bas-relief fusion three dimensional pieces embody the wild yet, peaceful spirit within Alison. She has worked to create a safe haven in her lavish landscape pieces for her viewers; a place to rest a weary mind and to restore peace and a sense of calm. Galvan’s creative journey started in fashion design and after a bit of self discovery, her career flourished into the epic, awe inspiring pieces of work she creates today.
Born and raised among a very conservative family in Vancouver, BC, Alison Galvan seemingly stuck out with her free spirited nature. At a young age, Alison loved sports and the outdoors, preferring to play soccer and baseball over joining Girl Scouts. She furthers, “I was always a bit of square peg trying to fit in a round hole and while my brother was very academically inclined, I excelled in sports, creative writing, drama and home economics. When I was little I was always trying to build or construct wild inventions.”
Although very attracted to bright colors, and often getting in trouble after experimenting with her mother’s makeup, Galvan wasn’t immediately interested in drawing or painting. Instead, she loved playing with clothes; figuring out
how to engineer her own patterns and sewing her own designs. “I fear I embarrassed my ultra conservative parents with many of my rather avant garde designs!” She recalls.
As a teen, Galvan indulged in many outdoor adventures where a lot of her creative inspiration was born. “I biked from Banff to Jasper in Alberta,” she explains, “I even cross country skied around Mt. Robinson in Alberta
and was in the group that was the first to bike the Dempster Highway from Dawson City to Inuvik. My father and I also shared some wonderful times together biking the Gulf Islands, hiking and sleeping under the stars.”
After high school ended, Alison quickly recognized that a traditional university education would not feel right. Luckily, a new independent school known as the Helen LeFeaux School of Fashion Design opened in her area and she plunged ahead into their one year program. She had hands on experience with pattern making, tailoring, draping, fashion illustration, storyboarding, etc.
Through much of her time and research into the backgrounds of some of her favorite designers, she soon learned that many of them attended Parsons School of Design in New York. “I was working on the assumption that if my fashion heroes attended Parsons and achieved success,” explains Alison, “then it was obviously the place to be. I created a portfolio and mailed it off with confidence, naive and ignorant of the prestigious nature of Parsons in the art world. Two weeks later I received my acceptance letter, much to my family’s chagrin. I was 19 years old, blond, and bursting with rebellion!”
Art school was just the placefor Alison and her highly creative mind. Although she went to Parsons with the intentionof studying fashion design, she soon found herself gravitating towards different areas of artistic study. One of her favorite classes was Form and Space: Introduction into 3D Work, and Color Theory. As her time at school progressed, she soon had to choose a specific concentration of study. She recalls, “Ever the practical person and heavily influenced by my family background, in the end I stuck with fashion, thinking of the future employment opportunities within that industry in comparison to the ‘starving artist.’”
After a pleasurable education and a life changing year studying abroad in Paris, she graduated from Parsons in 1993 with a Bachelors in Fine Art with a major in fashion design. What followed were years of traveling, exploring and eventually creating her own children’s wear company called, “Alioops.” Although her time working in fashion provided her with a fruitful career, she decided to take time to reflect on the next step of her artistic journey. She decided on a trip to New Orleans where she met her future husband. After two months of traveling together, they decided to get married in the Philippines. She and her new husband spent the next 15 months living and traveling through the Asian continent.
Alison became a mother to two children who showed her a side to her creativity that she hadn’t recognized before. “Years ago while homeschooling my children,” she explains. “I began experimenting with a gypsum sculpting compound to create school projects. As we progressed, sculpting and painting, more and more it was me that was having the most fun and getting lost in the creative process. I would often forget the time and the fact that history lessons were supposed to be happening.”
This process of sculpting with this mixed media, the use of acrylic paints, and her love of nature became the right combination to set Galvan off into her own creative world. She loved the way the material emulated the bark of trees and how it created unusual textures and shapes; each time allowing for “happy accidents” and spontaneity within each piece. Therefore, each piece contains unique qualities that are true originals.
“I am on a quest,” furthers Galvan, “to capture a sense of light and depth when I paint. The way light filters through the trees is so very elusive. It gives the woods such a magical feel that I’ve often said, that although I’m all grown up and ever so pragmatic, there are moments when during a hike, the light shines in just such a way that I swear if there really were fairies, elves and gnomes, they would be there flitting amongst the ferns.”
Besides the great outdoors, these magical works of art are inspired by many people in Alison’s life. Her father is at the top of her list as a huge supporter of her, “crazy ideas, dreams, and even gallivanting all over the world.” Her husband and children have been very encouraging as well throughout her art career. Artist Jack White, mentor for Alison, has also remained a steady influence in her life. Galvan elaborates, “I admire Jack White because very much like myself, he was not ‘born to be an artist’ and yet he and his wife decided upon this career path and have worked hard and smart to achieve tremendous personal and financial success.”
Alison has had success of her own through much hard work and dedication. In 2012, she was runner up for her piece, Endurance, in the “Inspired Art,” group show for Studio 1219, Port Huron, MI. She was also a part of group show, “Ka-Pow!” At the Foundry Art Centre, St. Charles, MO where she won second place for her piece, The Chaperones. In addition, Alison has been nominated by the city of St. Catharines for the St. Catharines Arts Award in the category, “Making a Difference” for her business, The Art Gym and the concept of making art; its appreciation, creation, and accessibility to everyone. The Art Gym is a new creation for Alison and has been encouraging many new artists, both young and old.
Alison continues involvement with The Art Gym while also toiling away on her own body of work where she now resides in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada. Each piece truly pulls the viewer in for a peaceful, cherished moment among the landscape and trees she so expertly depicts. The combination of her 3D designs and the mysticism of her subject matter create a very interactive effect that offer up a brief adventure or even a brief vacation.
“I want to create beauty,” Galvan describes. “I want to create mystery and wonder. I want to share with those that look upon my work, my sense of calm, and peace that I find in a craggy tree trunk as the sunlight caresses it early in the morning. In the woods is the place where I do my best thinking and have made some of my most momentous decisions. If by having one of my paintings perhaps across from someone’s desk, or in a den and it relaxes them and helps them to regain their focus, then I have successfully shared my vision and achieved my goal.”
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All original artwork has been created on gallery quality 2" wood panels and sculpted with a gypsum product very similar to the material make up of drywall. So, like the walls of your home will last forever unless abused intentionally, or unintentionally, as in the case of flooding, or other natural disasters etc... the sculpting material has been chosen for it's durability and longevity. Over the sculpting, all original artworks are painted with professional artist grade acrylic paints of the highest quality. Finally all pieces have been sprayed with an archival matte varnish to protect them from dust and light.
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