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American artist Deborah Allison celebrates the unique beauty of people and place in her work, taking inspiration from the world around her and a decade spent living and learning in Paris.


Cafe Cowboys

Café Cowboys, oil on linen, 20”x 22”

In a small studio in Santa Fe, looking out to nearby mountains, artist Deborah Allison brings blank canvases to life through her evocative brushwork. Industrial cityscapes, romantic European architecture, and magical landscapes sit alongside richly textured portraits and vibrant figurative work. Shelves overflow with well-worn art books, the walls covered in references, and meaningful objets d’art are scattered amongst the creative chaos—mementos of the people who have played a key role in Allison’s journey as an artist.

Although currently based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and represented by Holder Dane Art Gallery in Grapevine, Texas, Allison’s passion for art was ignited when she was transferred to Paris by the tech company she previously worked for. While she had nurtured an interest in art since childhood, she didn’t pursue it seriously until she found herself living in the City of Light. “Walking the historic streets where so many artists had walked, buying supplies where the greats purchased their paint, and visiting incredible museums stirred my heart,” she says. “The passion was and is a physical craving that I feel in my core.”


Faith, oil on linen, 16”x 18


A decade in France taught Allison to embrace art as a serious part of life rather than a hobby or pastime. She studied her craft in the studio with artist Alexandra Georgeon-Colin and took part in plein-air landscape painting workshops with Timothy Wells—who she was chosen to succeed as a teacher for workshops held in England, France, and Italy.

On her return to America, Allison studied portraiture and figurative work under master artist Anthony Ryder and developed her evocative brushwork and balanced compositions through workshops with Japanese-American painter Milt Kobayashi.

This medley of influences and inspiration is realized as a dynamic interweaving of classical and modern techniques. “I work in a very traditional layered ultra-realistic manner in many paintings, exploring and describing very fine detail,” Allison reveals. “In other works, I use the direct painting technique to express with active brush strokes, larger shapes, and a more impressionistic style.”


Finding the Calm, oil on linen, 12”x 22” 

Allison is best known for her portraiture and figurative works, which include both commissioned and gallery pieces. The commissioned portraits are an opportunity to capture the true essence of a subject, through 10 to 20 three-hour-long live sessions over the course of many months, or a photoshoot that allows for the work to take place remotely.

The figurative gallery pieces are more personal, giving Allison a chance to celebrate the everyday and find beauty in the mundane. “I find all human beings interesting, and all faces have their own individuality and beauty,” she says. “I want the viewer to see that beauty and perhaps appreciate all of our individuality.”


En Rose, oil on panel, 5”x 7 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, for an artist devoted to documenting the spirit of the place and people who surround her, Allison’s creative reward comes from the response her work evokes in the viewer. “It means the world to me when a client is moved to tears by a completed portrait, the moment someone looks at my painting and says they want to be there, or when a student tells me they can hear me coaching them while they work,” says Allison. “The fact that I get to spend my time creating work that can bring joy and thoughtfulness to others is so rewarding.”

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