Breaking Into Colour

California-based artist Allison Rohland on how her process has evolved to produce distinctive and emotive abstracts using bold hues and textures.

My journey of becoming an artist was one of divine timing and serendipity. As a child I was mentored by a local artist and felt like I had so much creativity and vibrancy. But as I got older, I let my inner critic prevent me from creating. It wasn’t until I started working at a non-profit gallery and studio for artists with intellectual disabilities and autism that I returned to my journey as an artist. It was working with these disabled artists that unabashedly expressed themselves, that inspired me to go deep within and find my own creative story that was waiting to be expressed.

I am always inspired by colour. It is my greatest joy and passion to experiment with different colour palettes and how the individual colours interplay with one another. I like how different shades of the same colour can vibrate against one another to create complexity and interest in the work.

Most pieces start off with a colour palette and then I surrender to the process. I let go of any preconceived notions of what the piece should be and allow it to become what it is meant to. Cindy Sherman put it best, “I’m really just using the mirror to summon something I don’t even know until I see it.”

I’m a very tactile creator. I see things in the studio and find myself often picking up colours or tools and intuitively using them as I feel it. I like creating without expectations on the piece, because it allows more joy in the process and my inner critic can be removed from the process.

"I’m a very tactile creator. I see things in the studio and find myself often picking up colours or tools and intuitively using them as I feel it."

I’m heavily inspired by the abstract expressionist movement. I prefer capturing a moment in time, energy or emotion as opposed to specific imagery. It is how I feel during the creation process that forms the final energy of the piece itself. Much of my process includes going for inspiration walks, drinking a glass of wine and burning some incense or palo santo. I have to get into flow, otherwise, the piece will not become what it is meant to. I believe paintings are living things and we as artists breathe life into them. So, if I’m going to create something for your home, I want it to be something that feels good and was created in flow.

I keep coming back to the theme of integrating parts of myself that have been cast aside. In my textural work, these are the little colour flecks or “terrazzo” pieces embedded in the larger works. It is a metaphor for taking the broken parts of ourselves and turning them into something beautiful. Much of my colourful work is a less literal translation of this, but it allows my inner child to play. Art demands the truth of who you are to resonate with people and for you to feel whole in the creative process. For a long time, I didn’t paint in colour because I was turning away from the truth of who I was in order to meet what I thought the mass market wanted. Much of my work now is just coming home to myself.

If you can believe it, I previously only painted in neutrals. I felt like I was hiding a part of myself – which I was. One day, I asked myself what I needed to do to feel confident and proud in the creation process and I wrote in my journal, “paint in colour”. Once I started doing this a new life was breathed into my practice. I’ve been extremely drawn to pinks and lilacs. I feel like it is my younger self coming through to create and be seen in a new way.

Daffodils and tulips are my favourite spring flowers. They are some of the happiest flowers. I have memories of them growing in front of my grandparents’ house in spring and how exciting it was to see them bloom every year. When I used to live on the East Coast of the United States, winters would last so long and sometimes there would be snow on the ground as the daffodils sprouted. They were always a reminder that good things were on the way.

I’m currently working on large-scale textural works for a few hotel projects in California and am excited to scale my work larger. I’m most looking forward to leaning into the season’s feeling of hope and looking for the possibilities in my life and career as opposed to the limitations. I am continually wanting to grow in a new way.

Discover Allison’s work @allisonrohlandart

Discover Midsummer at The Floristry with our collection of flower bouquets and flowers jars each made to order by our florist team and available for flower delivery in Hong Kong.