This article appeared in the Fall 2008 issue of Texoma Living!.
Allison Gillies paints large, so large that the usual run of canvases don’t provide enough space for her expansive ideas of color, shape and texture. She tried making her own canvases out of fabric from Wal-Mart, but that didn’t work either. An old tarp in her father’s garage reminded her of a sail, and her quest for something big enough to hold her ideas was over.
Gillies’s father passed away in 2000, just before she finished her degree in Drawing, Painting and Art History at the University of North Florida. She moved to Whitesboro to be close to her mother while she completed a Master’s Degree at Texas Woman’s University in Denton.
She found a showplace for her art in Whitesboro at the Pustizzi-Meschko Fine Art Gallery. There she hangs, or rather drapes, her giant works. Sometimes she uses a fan to direct a breeze over the painting so that it and the large human figures and skeletons, which she often adds, move with the breeze.
The power and beauty of the human body have always been a source of inspiration for artists, she said, and she calls the body the predominant focus of her work. “It’s about understanding anatomy and how it gives shape to the human body,” she said, pointing out that the skeleton has been standard equipment in artists’ studios and academies from the Renaissance to the present. Gillies said that for her, the body is symbolic of the transience of life. “I’m sure the deaths of my sister and father have influenced me, made me realize how transient life is.”
Some of her art is music, literally notes. Often Gillies integrates musical notations with her art. She said that one day she noticed the notes of a measure formed a visual pattern and concluded that the patterns would impart concepts of mathematics and universality to her paintings. To understand better the science of music, Gillies learned to play the mandolin and read music.
Recently, the Whitesboro artist developed a new technique of painting on both sides of a sail. “I was hanging this painting when I realized that light passed through from the other side. It was blue, and I wondered, if I added some red on the back, could I get a purple figure to show through?”
Besides creating art, Gillies teaches. She is a full-time instructor at Dallas Institute of Art and an adjunct professor at Texas Woman’s University in Denton. In addition, she holds therapeutic workshops for Denton Friends and Family, and Art for Community’s Sake. “Art is my life. Teaching is my passion. What I enjoy most about teaching people a new skill is the look on their faces after they have mastered the technique.”
Allison Gillies will be showing her work at a solo show October 24 – November 21, at the Pustizzi-Meschko Fine Arts Gallery, 110 E. Main St., Whitesboro, TX 76273. The public is invited to an opening-night reception from 5 p.m.-7 p.m. on October 24. For more information, contact Tina Meschko (903) 465-6460. INQUIRIES: Allison Gillies, PO Box 28, Whitesboro, TX 76273, (214) 676-0384