I am extra excited to bring you this artist spotlight on Allison Cantrell. Why so pumped? I have known about Allison’s art for 10 years now (we both went to the University of Arkansas at the same time) and I’m just as big a fan now as I was then. Allison has an astonishing skill at drawing and it is impossible not to be sucked in by every detail in her work. Enjoy and you’re welcome!
Why is drawing your primary medium? What do you like about it vs. other mediums.
I started using pencils at a very young age and have stuck with them ever since. I love the amount of control I have with a fine pencil and the amount of detail I can achieve. However, I have recently been striving to break out of my comfort zone and experiment with other mediums. I’m hoping to have paintings to offer before long!
How long have you been creating art professionally?
The majority of juried shows require participants to be at least 18. As soon as I turned 18 I entered my first one and took home the Best of Show award. Ever since then I have been building my resume with juried shows, duo shows with my mother and gallery representation. On the commission side of things, I have been doing that since even younger. In the eighth grade an English teacher of mine commissioned me to draw her two children with their dog. She was thrilled when she saw the completed piece and since then I have been depicting people’s loved ones on paper. It is so rewarding to provide clients with unique artwork of their precious memories!
How did you become an artist? What is your story?
My mother is an artist and I grew up watching her. I took a natural interest in art and while my siblings played their games in other parts of the house, I was in my mother’s studio doodling away with scrap paper below her drawing desk while she worked. She has been my guide and inspiration throughout the years.
How did the horse become your primary subject?
Like most little girls I went through that “horse phase”. Some grow out of it. Some, on the other hand, grow deeper into it. I got my first horse when I was 13 and started participating in chuckwagon races across the state. My love for horses grew and that crossed into my artwork.
Although a lot of my career has focused on horses, I have recently started doing a lot of commissioned dog portraits and I never imagined it would be so enjoyable! I love traveling around and meeting dogs of all kinds. It is such a joy to draw both of my favorite creatures in this world!
How do you describe your style? How has it evolved over your career?
The style of my artwork is very photorealistic. But although I am trying to give as much detail as I can to a piece, I still strive to bring out a special part of each horse’s personality, to show something that you wouldn’t otherwise find in a camera’s snapshot. I have always loved realism and have improved on it throughout the years.
How do you get inspired? What is your creative process?
I get inspired by everything! I am especially inspired when a see a horse or a dog with a standout personality. Sometimes I’ll meet one and just immediately know that I need to put their spirit on paper!
What’s your history with horses? Tell us a little bit about the most important horses in your life.
My first horse was a little sorrel gelding named Bud. He taught me everything. I was 13 and had little experience with horses but my parents still gave into the obsession and brought Bud home for me. My mother says that every time she watched me ride she knew that I needed a horse of my own. Like a majority of kids who are given horses and then left on their own I quickly ruined Bud. He was blown up and wanted to do nothing but run (same as me!). My parents refused to send him to a trainer and told me strictly that I would fix him myself or he would be sold. That was the best thing they did for me. I had to pour through every resource I could find about training and behavioral correction. I had to teach myself to become a legitimate horse woman. After months of work, I succeeded in bringing Bud back to being a good horse! Our relationship was so much stronger and I had learned more than I ever would have if I had handed him off to someone else to do the training. I had to sell Bud during college but he’ll always be close to me. And I have plenty of drawings of him to keep the memories alive!
What is your favorite part of your being an artist? Any parts you don’t enjoy quite as much?
Best part about being an artist – I don’t have to dress up for work! The next best part – I get to dress up for the big gallery shows! Best of both worlds! Being an artist is certainly hard work though. It takes a lot of dedication and time management. I urge every young artist I meet to study business and marketing. Actually doing the art is only a small part of making a career as an artist!
Where can Decidedly Equestrian’s readers purchase your artwork and see more?