Behind the Muse: Denise Kanter Allen

Denise Allen painting Hannah Sions
Denise working on her painting of Hannah.

For Art Lotto #4, Denise Kanter Allen will be portraying Hannah Sions. Read what Denise has to say about her experience thus far:  

“My Art Lotto pARTner is Hannah Sions. When I first sat down with Hannah, it was after work at Friendly City Food Co-op. She had just finished after a long day at school and I had just finished my shift at FCFC.

It’s always awkward at first when you’re trying to make a good impression and getting to know someone in less than 15 minutes. Ha. I tried asking simple questions like ‘what’s your favorite color’ —all the colors—and where did you grow up—California and Korea and back to California—‘and now you live in Virginia?’ Woah. However, I know we met before this because I got to be involved with Hannah in another portrait project called Wonderkitten. I remember enjoying Hannah’s piece because it was ‘interactive’. Her portrait was attached to the end of a wooden toggle that you could move up and down in a path sliced through the board. After the climb up the grooves, you had to immediately run back down the path, and away from an active volcano! Oh no! BUT SO MUCH FUN you had to do it over and over again!

Her other work is quite amazing too. She creates commercial, portrait and fine art photography, She prints out spotless, high concentrated, beautiful copies of her work and work by other local artists. She meticulously applies details by hand to her photographs and gives each piece a story and a meaning and a clever title. She doesn’t believe in procrastination but definitely believes in giving her time to others—when she is not too busy being awesome–and she also believes in ‘Fate, Luck and Love’. Finally, she is also an art teacher for Rockingham County Public Schools. I asked more boring questions during our meeting, but my favorite reply was about her final thesis: ‘How to Inspire Creativity’. Creativity just radiates from her—in her words, in her pictures, and in her activities. It’s very hard for me not to be overly enthusiastic when she comes to shop at the Friendly City Food Co-op while I’m working. I know her students must love her.

During our meeting I took some photographs and immediately went home to select my favorite one to print out and use as my photo reference. I have decided to paint Hannah using acrylics, in my own style, in my own little studio at Spitzer Art Center. I really hope that I can include ‘all the colors’ in her portrait and maybe with a little fate, luck, and love, and close attention and care for details she will see herself in the portrait I create. And maybe she will know the beauty she exudes and perhaps she will see all the things that I admire about her as an artist, teacher and ‘inspirer of creativity’.” -Denise

Sean Allen Denise Kanter AllenDenise Kanter Allen graduated from JMU with a BFA in Studio Art and a concentration in painting and drawing. While at JMU she served as Vice President of her art fraternity, Kappa Pi, and devoted countless hours to volunteering locally. Denise is the co-founder of Art Lotto, creates and exhibits art regularly and works at our favorite neighborhood grocery store, the Friendly City Food Co-op. You can view her work online here and by following her on Instagram @artbydenisekanter.

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Behind the Muse: with Tahany Garrison

Tahany Garrison is getting amped up for her first year as an Art Lotto artist. At our Luck of the Draw event, she drew the name of fellow-first-timer Hannah Sions. The two met downtown Harrisonburg for a full evening of art shows on a recent First Friday:

“In the unintentional spirit of procrastination, I have just now started on a portrait of Hannah. I met with her a few weeks ago and, fittingly, strolled through a First Friday downtown. I snapped some pics, and was on my way to think about what I had done- because I felt like I had gotten myself into trouble by finally participating in Art Lotto. I hadn’t done a portrait in a year or two. I was a little terrified, to be honest. Then I remembered a mantra offered to me in the past, “Keep it simple, stupid!”“What a relief. As usual, I was over-complicating things. I already knew I wanted to use salvaged/recycled materials. I have a nice stash of paperboard I’ve been hoarding and a bunch of stuff that the city doesn’t accept in the recycle bin. That was the ‘me’ in it. Finally, I choose a photo of Hannah, which as it turns out, was one she took of herself. A gritty, webcam shot of her perfectly witty and goofy self- perfect!”

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Tahany3“Now it’s execution time. Alone time to work on this piece is hard to come by before 9pm with little people running around. So, to keep them busy- I asked them to tear up the card board while I laid out the portrait on my substrate. So, kind of out of convenience and improvisation, I choose to do do a mosaic style portrait. Originally, I wanted to use the subtle differences in shades of brown on the unprinted side of the cardboard to do a monochromatic image. But life is more fun with color, and I’m pretty sure Hannah would agree.” ~Tahany

 

This year, Tahany will be portrayed by former Lotto award winner, Rhoda Miller.