Figurative Art of Wayne C. Allen


Have a look at Wayne’s paint­ings, from “then” until “now.”


Exam­ples of Wayne’s pho­tos, in con­ve­nient categories


Wear­ables and oth­er things, so you can own our designs!

There are addi­tion­al items for sale at my society6 site!

About Wayne C. Allen and Figurative Art

Wayne at 23, after a hard day
in the Studio

I start­ed paint­ing back in the 1960s, but real­ly start­ed tak­ing it seri­ous­ly in Art Class­es at good old Elmhurst College.

I sup­pose that my “arts edu­ca­tion” began in Col­lege, at Elmhurst Col­lege (now Uni­ver­si­ty.) I’d paint­ed a cou­ple of things, in oil, while in High School, and they were “ok-ish,” but then… Art class.

The very first thing we were asked to do was to paint a por­trait from a live mod­el. Being me, I paint­ed her on plex­i­glass, and mount­ed the plex­i­glass on a box full of twin­kling lights.

The next paint­ing was tak­en from a “Life” or “Look” cov­er (mag­a­zines, for those of you younger than me.) It was a pho­to of a mom, dad, and baby, cud­dling. I loos­ened the image up a bit, but my colour palette was pret­ty bland. 

My art Prof gave me an “A”, but then, fate­ful­ly, asked me, “Can’t you see the colours in the shadows?”

Giv­en the amount of recre­ation­al sub­stances he and the rest of us were tak­ing back then, I guessed he was tripping.

After I grad­u­at­ed in 1973, I pret­ty much stopped paint­ing, focussing instead on pho­tog­ra­phy. (And… you know… makin’ a livin’.

Some years passed as I focussed on photography.
I opened a studio in a suburb of Chicago, and did model photos, figure studies, and ad work.

After moving to Canada in ’75, I of course opened a studio, and kept doing photos.

Flash for­ward to the ear­ly 80s. I tripped over some art sup­ples, and decid­ed to start paint­ing again. The paint­ings were large, and took for­ev­er, as I’d dis­cov­ered photo-realism. 

I think I was ini­tial­ly enam­oured with pho­to-real­ism because I’d spent so many years learn­ing to take good photos.

I went through a hyper-real­ism stage; a cou­ple of my paint­ings from way back then have an almost pho­to­graph­ic qual­i­ty. The down­side, for me, was that the images have a bit of a “flat­ness” to them. 

This por­trait has a sto­ry: a friend want­ed to learn to take stu­dio por­traits. Her friend came along to pose. She liked pos­ing so much, I pho­tographed her 2 more times.

This paint­ing demon­strates pret­ty clear­ly my hyper-real­ism stage; sev­er­al of of my paint­ings from ’83 through ’88 have an almost pho­to­graph­ic quality.

After anoth­er 10 year break, he writes with a smile, I once again picked up my brush­es. I’d decid­ed that I real­ly need­ed to loosen my style up, so in a cou­ple of steps I moved out of hyper-real­ism to some­thing head­ing toward semi-abstrac­tion. But there were bus stops along the way.

Here’s a flash-back to a qua­si-real­is­tic style, but… there is leas of an empha­sis on pho­to real­ism. And there are hints of what my Art Prof asked.

I’d finally noticed that there WERE colours in the shadows.

From 2000 through 2010, I fur­ther loos­ened my style. Much of my work back then fea­tures a more styl­is­tic, “blocked colour” tech­nique. I pro­duced sev­er­al paint­ings that fea­ture the play of light and shadow.

I won’t waste a lot of your time on Art Theory, but suffice it to say I’m not a fan of Abstract Art. I chose the middle ground. I saw my path, and’s called Figurative Art.

To quote Wikipedia: “Fig­u­ra­tive art, some­times writ­ten as fig­u­ra­tivism, describes art­work (par­tic­u­lar­ly paint­ings and sculp­tures) that is clear­ly derived from real object sources and so is, by def­i­n­i­tion, rep­re­sen­ta­tion­al. The term is often in con­trast to abstract art:

Since the arrival of abstract art the term fig­u­ra­tive has been used to refer to any form of mod­ern art that retains strong ref­er­ences to the real world. 


This “real world, focus” fit for me. My brain just does­n’t com­pute abstrac­tion. I like the “here and now” real­i­ty of fig­u­ra­tive art (I’m a sim­ple Zen guy, after all.) 

Realism dictates an almost exact matching of what is “right there.” In a figurative world, the realism remains, but is “overwritten” by the artist’s vision of how to bring out the emotions contained in the scene.

Fig­u­ra­tive art is a way of express­ing what I’m see­ing beyond the details. Each paint­ing I cre­ate has a very real basis in real­i­ty, but also cap­tures a play­ful sense of emotion–the colour in the shadows!

I’ve always loved the human form, and that also fea­tures heav­i­ly in my art. In a sense, it dove­tails with my love for pho­tog­ra­phy.
This paint­ing is one of sev­er­al from a lazy after­noon pho­to shoot. It is all about colour hint­ing at the under­ly­ing emotion.

I final­ly set­tled on the per­fect blend of fig­u­ra­tive art and styl­is­tic art around 2016. My com­mis­sioned por­trait style “locked in” and seems “easy.”

The result is a body of work that revolves between three themes: nude fig­ure stud­ies, por­traits, and “scenes from every­day life.” In each case, I fol­low my instinct to pro­duce paint­ings that are iden­ti­fi­able as “mine.”

My process is to take a pho­to (or down­load an image) and to use a com­put­er to edit it. I have a sense of where I want to end up and the tech­nol­o­gy means I’m able to shift colours, back­grounds, body shapes and posi­tions, etc. before I trans­fer the image to canvas.

Figurative art needs a strong basis in reality; but I don’t believe it has to be “accurate.” It’s possible for creative expression to marry itself with my artistic vision.

I (final­ly!) found my niche. 

Now retired (I spent 32 years as a psychotherapist) Darbella and I have spent the last decade travelling. 

Dar tends to be the “scenic” pho­tog­ra­ph­er, and she’s amaz­ing at it. 

I look for peo­ple and sit­u­a­tions that inter­est me, and then turn the pho­tos into paintings.

Wayne, and a wall of paintings

Please do look around at both my paintings and a representative sampling of my photography.

You’ll also see that I’ve added my art­work to cloth­ing and acces­sories. And some of my paint­ings and pho­tographs are avail­able as lim­it­ed edi­tion prints and wall art.

My style flex­es back and forth between real­is­tic and fig­u­ra­tive art. I’ve worked to learn to “see” the colours in the shad­ows… my art Prof was on to something!

And I’m proud to be a fig­u­ra­tive artist!

Please, enjoy!

Me and my camera
Me and my camera
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