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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. Working to create a safe haven in her lavish landscape pieces for her viewers; her art is a place to rest a weary mind and to restore peace and a sense of calm.
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. “I was always a bit of square peg trying to fit in a round hole!”
Although very attracted to bright colors, and often getting in trouble after experimenting with her mother’s makeup, Alison 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, Alison indulged in many outdoor adventures where a lot of her creative inspiration was born. “I biked from Banff to Jasper in Alberta, I even cross country skied around Mt. Robinson 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, and more.
Through much of her time and research into the backgrounds of some of her favourite 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, then it was obviously the place to be. I created a portfolio and mailed it off with confidence, naive and ignorant to the prestigious nature of Parsons in the art world. But two weeks later I received my acceptance letter, much to my family’s chagrin. I was 19 years old, and bursting with creativity and rebellion!”
Art school was just the place for Alison and her highly creative mind. Although she went to Parsons with the intention of studying fashion design, she soon found herself gravitating towards different areas of artistic study. One of her favorite classes was Form and Space: an 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.’” Groan!
After a wonderful education and a life changing year studying abroad in Paris, Alison 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.”
Several years later, growing weary of the retail world, she put Alioops on hold and decided to take time to reflect on the next step of her artistic journey, fortuitously taking a trip to New Orleans where, unexpectedly, she met her future husband. Ever the decisive one, it was only a few short months later, and Alison was walking down the isle, marrying her dream man in the Philippines.
Not long after, Alison became a mother to two lovely 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 with the kids. 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 Alison 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.
“I am on a quest, to capture a sense of light and depth when I sculpt and 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, there are moments when the light shines in just such a way that I swear if there really are fairies, elves and gnomes, they are right 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 gallivanting all over the world." As well, Alison's husband and children have always been very encouraging throughout her art career, "they are, and always have been, my biggest cheerleaders!" .
Thankfully success has come after much hardwork. 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, in 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.
Today though, Alison continues with her love and passion for the arts with her award winning business co-owned with her husband, The Food and Art Cafe in Whitby, Ontario. A dream 20 years in the making and a joy she carries close to her heart. "This is the place where finally both my husband and I get to showcase our talents, he with his artistry in the kitchen and me with my art on the walls."
My art is about beauty. 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, or in the sun that caresses in the early morning light. 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 there too, they reach their own moments of clarity, then I have successfully shared achieved my life's 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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Alison Galvan Fine Art
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