Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Artist of the Month Interview at Dyslexic Advantage

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Fernette Eide, co-founder of the organization, Dyslexic Advantage...about painting, dyslexia, and family.  Our interview, as well as my painting June appeared on the Dyslexic Advantage blog. You can read the interview below...

June, 2013-2014, oil on canvas, 20 x 22 inches

Artist of the Month: Michael Allen, Painter

The artist of the month is Michael Allen, a gifted painter who along with his remarkable family is a member of our community. Michael lives and works in Lebanon County, PA.

When I asked whether either of his parents were artists, Michael to us, “My dad’s an engineer. He draws and builds bridges in major cities.” But interestingly, it was Michael’s father’s father (also an engineer) who first inspired Michael with painting. “In his retirement, he took up painting and I only remember him in his retirement. He had a studio in the back and I always went to see what he was working on.”

Michael, like many adults of his age, only learned about dyslexia through his son. When his son’s tester asked “Did you have trouble?”, he answered that he did have trouble and was in a remedial reading class, but he also did well in school.

Michael: I still like to read, but I read very slowly.I found a way of kind of skimming to get a feel of what the symbols were. I read a paragraph 2-3 times before I comprehend it. I found a way to deal with it.

Fernette: Do you have any tips to share about how you were able to do well in school?

Michael: I had to go to class and I had to write things down. That’s my trigger. If a classmate would look at my notes, all they would see is gibberish – it’s just the trigger. It’s the note that I recall that leads me to the memory. If a question appears on a test, I’ll recall writing something down at the time, and then my teacher saying it. If I didn’t go to class and tried to catch up by reading the book, I did terrible. I couldn’t have that visual moment to recall unless I could create it.

Fernette: That’s fascinating. As a group, it seems as if most dyslexic students we’ve spoken to tell us that they recall memories as scenes rather than decontextualized facts. There are different networks in the brain depending on whether information is recalled as a scene taking place at specific location and time or something more generically.

Because of our book and research, we’ve been interested in advantages and strengths that  might come with dyslexic thinking. Do you have any thoughts about your strengths and differences that might be helpful in your work as a painter?

Michael: Well, I love to draw. I also deal with the world in a visual manner so that drawing what I see whether literally or out of my imagination makes a lot of sense to me. When it came time for me to go to college, art is what I felt I knew best.

I stuck with it and then I was fortunate enough to study with a group of people who opened doors for me as far as the history of art and possibilities of gave me an outlet to explore my visual ideas.
Fernette: Who did you study with?
Michael: I went to a state school Kutztown University in Pennsylvania. It’s 3 hrs out of New York City and at that time they were all exhibiting in NYC and at the top of their game. An opportunity to study with them was perfect timing…just what I needed.
Fernette: Did you ever think there was a tension between thinking visually and verbally and that that could be a challenge in school?
Michael: Yes, I still struggle with that a lot. I went on to get my masters degree at the University of Delaware and taught in the college system for a little while and still teach some workshops and classes here and there. It’s still very difficult for me to find the words and put things together verbally. That’s always been my kind of struggle. Easier to think visually than to write something out or speak it.
Also most of how I get through the day is visual. If I drive somewhere, I know how much time it takes to get to that tree or if I’m at this street corner. We joke around the house, What time do you think it is? I’ll look at the light on the trees and think about what time of year it is and think it’s probably 5:30 and it’s 5:36! I don’t know if that’s my years of looking at painting and understanding that light and colors and understanding seasonal change or an aspect of dyslexia…or both! That’s one of those things I thought – everybody does that.
As far as painting goes, most of my painting is done on-site. My June painting was done in 45 minute increments just after sunrise June 2013 and June 2014. If I do something in the studio, I take the on-site paintings and recreate them using memory. I have a crazy visual memory.
Fernette: Does that mean you can recall colors really well?
Michael: Yes. Part of my graduate work was in restoration. There was a color course where we were tested on high-end color aptitude and I scored very high on that – so that along with the ability to memorize- really recall a memory of that is really crucial to what I do as a painter.
Fernette: How do you choose what you decide to paint?
Michael: They’re moments that click for me. What you see in the artwork is not verbatim reality – it’s not like a photograph of a moment. They’re constructed out of actual experience mixed with memory.

Fernette: What about powers of observation? I would think you’re a pretty good observer.

Michael: They are pretty astute, but that’s what I do as a painter – my daily training.

Fernette: What about telling facial expressions or other types of visual information?

Michael: I could always read people pretty well. I could always tell if they were being genuine or not.

Fernette: I’d like to close by asking about your woodworking and also find out where people can view and purchase your paintings.

Michael: I make frames for all my artwork and I also work as a cabinet maker. My father, the bridge builder was a cabinet maker by hobby. I always grew up in a woodworking atmosphere. I also build furniture for the house and Benjamin and I built a Viking Longship. He’ll be 10 soon. He researched the longship and in a roundabout way, he made it in the same way they would’ve at that time.

Fernette: Fantastic!  I saw Jessica’s blog Cattails and Cobwebs!  It’s wonderful! Michael, you, Jessica, and Benjamin seem like you’re living a dream – being able to work in a creative profession and also to have a pretty idyllic educational curriculum that allows you to learn and create together. I’d like to recommend to our readers that they check out more of your work and visit Jessica’s blog. A link to Michael’s artwork can be found here: Michael Allen Studio or the galleries Somerville-Manning or Lancaster Galleries.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Inspired Landscape

I am pleased to announce that three open-air works are included in "Inspired Landscape: an invitational" at the Oxford Arts Alliance, Oxford, PA.  The exhibit features 13 artists with ties to Lancaster County, PA.

Opening night is Friday, October 3 from 5-8 pm.  The exhibit continues through October 2014.

An exhibition catalog is available here.

Dawn in Millbach, 2013, oil on paper, 8.75 x 14.125
Dawn in Millbach, 2013, oil on paper mounted to panel, 8.875 x 14.125 inches

Millbach in Winter_oil on canvas_6.5x12.5_sm
Millbach in Winter, 2011, oil on canvas, 6.5 x 12.5 inches

Turbines at Long Level_oil on canvas mounted to panel_14.125x10
Turbines at Long Level, 2012, oil on canvas mounted on panel, 14.125 x 10 inches

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

MAKERSfest 2014

MAKERSfest, is not my usual kind of gig.  Presented by the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen, this is its inaugural year.  Held on the 300 block of Queen Street in Lancaster, PA on Sunday June 8, it is celebration of fine finished craftsmanship as well as the act of making.  This street festival is not your average art and craft festival, its focus is on making.  That is where I come in.  I will be a wandering minstrel of sorts...without the song and dance...just paint.  Come visit with me while I paint Lancaster City and then wander a few blocks to Lancaster Galleries where you can check out more work!  See you there.

Afternoon Sketch-Lancaster
Afternoon Sketch: Lancaster, 2005, oil on paper, private collection

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Celebrating Twenty Years of Exhibiting

On April 23, 1994 I had a small etching included in the 4th Annual Juried Exhibition at Elizabethtown College.  It was my first exhibition.  

I was a student at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania and still experimenting with a variety of subject matter and media.  Finding a new confidence in drawing, I began a series of etchings and drawings based on shadows falling on architectural forms.  I was confident with my artistic accomplishments, so, I began entering my work in regional juried shows with hopes of kick-starting an art career.  After a few rejections I was finally granted entrance into the artworld.  My etching, Untitled, was selected for the exhibition by renowned painter and printmaker Robert Cottingham.

From this exhibition forward I began a steady routine of exhibiting. By 1996 I had graduated from Kutztown University, had my first solo show, sold some work.  Twenty years later I am still making and exhibiting work!  I will be blogging about my first twenty years in the coming months as well as sharing more of what is currently happening in the studio.  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Michael Allen Participating in the Mount Gretna School of Art Benefit Auction

Join us on
Sunday March 30, 2014 at 4pm
at Lancaster Galleries
34 North Water Street, Lancaster, PA 17067

A Benefit Auction to support the Mount Gretna School of Art

A House by the River_oil on canvas_7.5x8.75_sm

Preview the auction on Saturday March 29th from 5-7pm or Sunday March 30 from noon to 3pm.

I had the great pleasure of teaching a workshop and holding critique for the inaugural summer of this intensive program.  It is a wonderful opportunity for students to spend a few weeks working with great artists from all over the U.S.  Follow this link for the full list of artists participating and to learn how to start your bid and support the school!

Read an article about the school on Painting Perceptions

Friday, March 7, 2014

New Drawing Exhibited in The First Thirty

My new drawing , Crossings, 
is featured in The First Thirty at Lancaster Galleries.
The exhibition celebrates Lancaster Galleries 30th anniversary and features a wide cross-section of what the gallery has exhibited over the years.

The exhibition runs from March 7 -March 28th with an artists reception on March 7th from 5-9pm.

MAllen,Crossings, 2014, charcoal and conte crayon on paper, 48.5 x 42.5 inches

Thursday, March 28, 2013


Nightlife, 2013, oil on canvas, 48 x36 inches

2013: From Observation: An Invitational, Lancaster Galleries, Lancaster, PA


From Observation: An Invitational, exhibition catalog

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Benjamin's Pirates with Cowboy Remnant

Benjamin's Pirates with Cowboy Remnant, 2011, oil on paper


2013: From Observation: An Invitational, Lancaster Galleries


From Observation: An Invitational, exhibition catalog

Friday, February 1, 2013

A Moonlit Night

A Moonlit Evening, 2011, conte on laid paper, 15 x 11 inches

2011: Evening Light: Paintings and Drawings (solo exhibition), Lancaster Galleries, Lancaster, PA

Hydrangea in Sink Light

Hydrangea in Sink Light, 2011, oil on canvas, 20 x 16 inches

2011: Evening Light: Paintings and Drawings (solo exhibition), Lancaster Galleries, Lancaster, PA

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Street Lights 2

Street Lights 2, 2011, oil on canvas, 20 x 20 inches
2011: Evening Light: Paintings and Drawings (solo exhibition), Lancaster Galleries, Lancaster, PA

Plate of Cookies

Plate of Cookies, 2010, oil on paper mounted to panel,12.75 x 12.25 inches, private collection PA


Pause, 2011, oil on canvas, 48 x 42 inches

2012: New Summer Art, Somerville Manning Gallery, Greenville, DE
2011: Evening Light: Painting and Drawings (solo exhibition), Lancaster Galleries, Lancaster, PA

Houseplant in Kitchen Light

Houseplant in Kitchen Light, 2011, oil on paper mounted to panel, 13 x 15 inches
2011: Evening Light: Paintings and Drawings (solo exhibition), Lancaster Galleries, Lancaster, PA

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A Midsummer Night

A Midsummer Night, 2010, oil on canvas, 40 x 32 inches
2012: A Special Exhibition of A Midsummer Night with Notes, Thoughts, and Other Works on Paper (solo exhibition), Lancaster Galleries, Lancaster, PA
2011: Evening Light: Paintings and Drawings (solo exhibition), Lancaster Galleries, Lancaster, PA

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tailights in the Alley

Taillights in the Alley, 2009, mixed media on paper mounted to panel, 10 x 9 inches, private collection
2012: Landscapes, UD@Crane, Crane Arts,Philadelphia, PA
2011: Evening Light: Paintings and Drawings (solo exhibition), Lancaster Galleries, Lancaster, PA

Headlights in the Alley

Headlights in the Alley, 2010, conte crayon on laid paper,12 x 10.5 inches
2012: Landscapes, UD@Crane, Crane Arts, Philadelphia, PA
2011: Evening Light: Paintings and Drawings (solo exhibition), Lancaster Galleries, Lancaster, PA

At the Door

At the Door, 2009, charcoal and conte on paper, 50 x 32 inches

2011:  Evening Light: Paintings and Drawings (solo exhibition), Lancaster Galleries, Lancaster, PA