Confession: All I want for Christmas is this painting by Alison Van Pelt. It haunts me.
But who am I kidding? Every one of her paintings is seriously divine. I’d take any of them!
From her famously haunting nudes to her Native Americans, animals, and more recent work from the “If I Were Ed Ruscha” series (like the one of Frida Kahlo above), Van Pelt has a way with the brush that strikes a delicate balance between ethereal and boldly powerful.
A true 1970’s California girl, Van Pelt’s painstaking photorealist style is tied to the influx of photography into the art world and is inspired by disparate influences such as Chuck Close, Robert Rauschenberg, Gerhard Richter, Helmut Newton, Paramahansa Yogananda, Dan Millman, and Hunter S. Thompson. It’s a powerful mix and something that is oddly tangible in her work. The canvases range in size from less than 8x10 inches to over 8x10 feet and are currently held by some of the most important art collectors and institutions in the world.
Here’s a little peek into her world……….
What is your creative process?
It’s a recurring marathon. I draw an image on canvas (or board, glass,
paper…) Then I paint, depending on the size of the piece, for a few
hours or a few days. I paint an image and once the image is complete, I blur the paint while the paint is wet. With a big piece this can take between 24 and 48 hours,
non-stop, non-sleep, until the paint is too dry to blend anymore. Then
I take a hot bath and in a perfect world, get a massage, a good meal
and a long sleep. That last bit is a vital component of the process.
Who has been the most influential person in your life?
My mom, Susan. She said I was a great artist and could do anything I
put my mind to. That’s a powerful message I heard when I was very
young and even when it’s not all green lights, I never questioned it.
What’s the most important education in your life (traditional or
self-education) and why?
I went to great schools - UCLA, Otis, Art Center and Florence Academy
of Art. But I did best alone, experimenting, making mistakes; that’s
when I’ve had my biggest leaps.
What serendipitous events brought you to your current career?
A great collector bought my first painting when I was 21. It seemed so easy.
What is your best attribute?
Patience and concentration.
What is your biggest flaw?
Who do you admire most?
Frida Kahlo, Georgia O’Keefe, Ethel Kennedy,
RFK, JFK, Martin Luther King Jr, Hilary Clinton, Barack Obama!
Who would you would most like to meet?
Paramahansa Yogananda, Babaji, and my next husband.
Who is your favorite artist and why?
Frida Kahlo. Aside from her determination and strength, she could directly paint her dreams and raw emotion and make it beautiful, powerful and enchanting. In
contrast, Gerhard Richter, for his irony, intellect, and rigorous,
methodical, devoted practice and mastery of the paint.
Who is your favorite musician and why?
I have to pick three: Rolling Stones, Beatles, Led Zepplin. Always
and forever - the soundtrack from my wild, magical, innocent youth.
What are you reading right now?
Upper Cut by Carrie White and Rebels in Paradise, The Los Angeles Art
Scene and the 60’s, by Hunter Drohojowska-Philp. Both great!
What element of nature is most enchanting to you and why?
I love the woods by the sea - that’s the fantasy. I know, greedy; I
want two. I live at the beach and there’s a sense that the intensity
of the city is balanced by all that vast space.
What is your most defining life philosophy?
Peace and love. I was raised by hippies. It was always live and let
live, but I’m becoming
more outspoken and a little more courageous about standing up for
things; less need to make nice, not so scared to make waves.
Well, Ms. Van Pelt, you’re definitely making waves for all of us who love your work!
An excellent variety of work by Alison Van Pelt can be found through Roseark in West Hollywood and Santa Monica.