Austin Van Allen
About the artist:
Austin Van Allen is an American artist, art teacher, and music teacher. Austin studied music education and educational leadership at Penn State University attaining both undergraduate, graduate degrees respectively. Shortly after graduating, Austin attained his art teaching certification, which drastically changed his career trajectory. Since then, Austin has fallen in love with teaching and creating art. For him, teaching art is more than showing students how to draw, sculpt, or paint, but rather it is about showing students how to observe and experience the world around them, and how to infuse creativity and innovation into every aspect of their life. Austin uses his watercolor and ink style to help his students learn how to envision and develop their imagination. Austin currently lives and works in State College Pennsylvania with his wife Emma and their dog Zola.
Since starting to create art in this watercolor and ink style during the spring of 2021, Austin’s artwork has been featured at the Rhoneymeade gallery in Centre Hall, Pennsylvania (2021) for a solo exhibition entitled “An Evening of Art”. Select works have been featured at M.A.D.S. Art Gallery in Milan Italy for their 2021 D.E.M.O. exhibition, and on Strathmore Art’s official Instagram page. His artwork is also scheduled to exhibit at the Luxembourg International Arts Festival (2021), the Holiday “Art is Elemental” show at the Bellefonte Art Museum (2021) in Bellefonte, PA, as well as future exhibitions in MONAT art gallery in Madrid, Spain (2022), and the Curio Cool art gallery in Zelienople, Pennsylvania (2022).
My artwork represents two sides of the artist in me: freedom of expression and a need for control. During the pandemic of 2020, the need for control overwhelmed me; this along with career challenges affected my mental state, and my art. I felt like I had to keep my thoughts and emotions bottled up inside and I lost my artistic inspiration. I was trapped, and I felt suffocated. I could no longer focus on hyper realism, the ultimate expression of control. Instead, I started throwing paint onto paper. I used my hands, brushes, and cups of water. Painting became a release, and I slowly started to feel like myself again. The ink that is drawn over top of the dried paint is only meant to highlight the beauty of the watercolor as well as to provide depth and texture. Even though the ink adds an element of control to my art, it is always reactionary and subservient to the freedom expressed by the watercolor paint. Instead of painting what I draw, I draw what I paint.
When I create my art, all the thoughts and feelings that I have to keep locked explode out in bursts of brushstrokes, swirls of color, and masses of lines. There is a release of emotion, energy and passion that comes from casting off control, as well as an acceptance and appreciation of the imperfect result. Just like my watercolor paintings, life can offer something unique and beautiful when left to its own devices. I stopped trying to control everything, and somewhere in the mess, I’ve started to find myself again.