Deep Nerd Magazine had to run to catch up with Ms. Jardine, but we managed to have a sit down, along with Miso the Cocker Spaniel, at her Deep Ellum studio.
Alison Jardine is a busy woman. Between teaching drawing at the University of North Texas in Denton and simultaneously working on her Masters in Fine Arts, she splits her time between her studios in Denton and Deep Ellum in Dallas.
Originally from Yorkshire, England, Alison holds a Bachelor of Arts in politics, history and philosophy from the University of London. She first began working in publishing and then came to work for Amazon at it’s inception in 1998, becoming an international project manager for the company. Alison left her corporate life behind when she moved to the US with her family thirteen years ago. She decided to pursue a career in art seriously in 2003, mainly building up her skills, eventually taking on the profession full time in 2009.
Alison’s body of artwork is diverse, ranging from colorful oil paintings, charcoal paintings, digital instillations to mixed-media sculptures. She admits to being very inspired by nature. Her materials include objects she finds while walking her dog, including styrofoam, wood, packaging and cement. If she’s not painting or teaching, you might find her in a shop at a machine carving wood into elegant frames.
Besides being a student, educator, full-time artist, mother of two teenagers, and wife to a avid longboarder, Alison’s hard work and original perspective have has earned her recognition in her adoptive state. Not to mention a twitter following (338K strong!). This year, she has made it to the final round of the Hunting Prize, one of the most prestigious awards given to artists residing in Texas.
Is Miso usually here with you?
It’s actually her first time here. I’m seeing how she does. Our other dog Archie recently passed so she’s been getting more food and attention. She’s a bit fat right now actually.
Tell us about your painting submission for the Hunting Prize.
They are just twigs but they almost look like writing. I have done very maximalist nature work in the past, so by stripping it down, and still making it nature painting, but minimalist, was a really interesting exercise.
What was you inspiration for this piece?
This is all coming out of my experience walking the dog. A lot of trails in Plano have power lines. I’m constantly seeing trees against lines, tress against lines. This is a reduction in energy, but in a contained way. It’s stripped down to three elements; the field, the line and the object.
What you do with your prize money if you won?
I’d be able to buy a lot of cement, a lot of art supplies and I actually have two kids who are about to go to college so it would be tremendously useful. There’s some artists friends’ work I’d like to buy; spread the love a little.
Were you always interested in being an artist?
My dad was an artist and my older brother went to art school. I was surrounded by art, it was a very natural thing.
Why did you decide to move from England to the DFW area?
My husband was offered a job here so we decided to quit everything, sell everything and start an adventure.
How do you think art in Europe differs from art in Texas?
The aesthetic and environment is very different, which have been the two things to profoundly affect my work. The reason I started with such bright colors here is because of the sunlight. It’s so intense, like a floodlight is on. It causes intense contrast and high drama, whereas in Yorkshire and [the rest of ]Europe, where there is more moisture in air, the atmosphere has purples and oranges. The paintings end up looking like Cezanne. It’s very different here. The aesthetic people expect and want from their art is very different. Here they like paintings that look new, crisp and graphic in inspiration.
You have studios in both Denton and Deep Ellum. What’s the difference between the two?
Denton is kind of strange because it has a block with lots of other studios of graduates so there’s a lovely sense of community. Denton seems to be a really nice friendly town. You can just park your car and walk between various things. In Dallas I always drive. Deep Ellum has that same vibe, but maybe less of a sense of community for me because Denton has the university, which I’m a part of. That adds an extra layer for me. But I really like Deep Ellum. I was very pleased when I found the area. I like it’s spirit.
What’s your studio in Deep Ellum like?
I’ve been in this space since December. Because I have my space in Denton, I moved from my room down the hall to share this one with my friend Heather. We’re both so busy at the moment we’re almost never here, but I like that it’s our cozy shared place. I barely see her though. She’s a commercial photographer building this amazing business right now, so I don’t think she even sleeps.
How often do come down to this studio?
I’m only down here on Friday’s now, it used to be full time. When I finish my graduate degree I can move back here full time to keep the pace going.
Where do you see yourself in the future, aesthetically and academically?
Continue, hopefully, showing in galleries and mixing building materials with painting, construction and making this sort of strange fantasy world that is half contrasted and half imagined. I like raising questions about the way we use the natural world and what we’re doing to it.
You can see more of Alison’s artwork at alisonjardine.com
Follow Alison on Twitter: twitter.com/alisonjardine
Photos by Manuel Somarriba