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Jeanne Allen artist: Color Field, Impressionism, Plein Air

Jeanne Allen Artist, online:  ArtSlant  Jeanne Allen  Color Field Abstract


Jeanne Allen Color Field Artist     online ArtSlant Jeanne Allen

  Pour, brush, drip acrylics on canvas by Jeanne Allen












            Giardino III                                  Accent                                Monterey Seaweed

 Jeanne Allen is a Color Field artist of Southern California, who is busy pouring, brushing, or dripping acrylics on canvas, in her own interpretation of current color field art using the colors of SoCal beaches in abstraction.  Her drips are often self creating.  She constantly studies the many color field artists she relates to and admires.  She has been creating art for over sixty years, and her journey continues. 

 Jeanne Allen started drawing pictures of Sacagawea in her 5th grade history class, and her interest in art grew and developed in her teens.  At KansasUniversity, she majored in Design for her BFA.  She made honors and was elected to Delta Phi Delta, honorary art fraternity. 

 Classes were diverse and included many basic broad range aspects of art techniques.  Life Drawing utilized human models, while Nature Drawing provided comprehensive drawing in plein air or sketching at the Natural History Museum.  Raymond Eastwood was an inspiring teacher of life drawing, oil painting, and constructive drawing of ordinary objects arranged at every possible angle, which developed the artist’s eye for shapes, lines and constructions from a raw point of view.

 Sketch class developed fast 3 or 5 minute drawings of other students rotating as models, which developed dexterity and eye studies of human movements.  Water Color included plein air studies out doors on site or in class. Hands on classes included silver smithing, weaving, design and graphic arts. Inspirational Eldon Tefft guided sculpture in fired clay or other mediums. 

 As a fine arts student in the early fifties, Allen studied a wide spectrum of hands on art techniques as well as art history by lecture or museum trips to absorb art from early Greek statues, to pyramids of Egypt, to Michelangelo, to Italian Renaissance, to French Impressionism, to the experimental Abstract Expressionism and the newest art being created from the past to the present of modern art. 

 KansasUniversity, in the center of the USA, was a half continent away from the cutting edge artists of the early 50s.  Kansas did not offer perks or advantages of living on the West Coast or in the heart of NYC, but Allen learned about avant-garde artists who were experimenting during this time period after WWII. 

 I tried to study everything possible about modern art, Abstract Expressionism and Color Field artists.  Because I was born one year later than Helen Frankenthaler, I felt a close affinity to her as a Color Field artist.  During this time period, when I was a college art student, before internet and TV, it was very tricky to view innovative artists in NYC or along the CaliforniaCoast.  By visiting art museums and reading art magazines, I, as a young student, was able to create an attachment to the leading edge on both East and West Coast art centers.”

 Sam Francis, another Color Field artist, became an inspiration to Allen.  She caught on to his ideas of leaving some white showing and using white as being entirely integral to an acrylic abstract painting created with a water color technique.

 In 1967, Richard Diebenkorn and Sam Francis shared a studio near Ashland and Main Street in Santa Monica during Diebenkorn’s Ocean Park Period.  He was impressed with the window painting of Matisse and utilized some of the same feelings in his OceanPark paintings.  Many artists have created paintings about windows and doors as an entry through the Looking Glass to another world. The travelling Matisse retrospective exhibition that Diebenkorn saw on a trip to Los Angeles in 1952 influenced paintings which he made while teaching at the University of Illinois. At the end of the school year in 1953 he returned to Berkeley where he established a studio.

 During summertime of 1951, Allen visited New York City and the Museum of Modern Art, where Picasso’s Guernica was on display.  MoMA offered a plethora of impressive modern art.  Besides the abstracts, there were mobiles by Alexander Calder and sculpture by Henry Moore. Major artists on view in ‘51 and ‘52 were: Modigliani, Georges Braque, Marc Chagall, Edward Hopper, Gaston Lachaise, Fernand Ledger, Aristide Maillol, Joan Miro, and Henri Rousseau Jacques Lipchitz.

 During the summer of 1952, she worked in the Pentagon and lived in Washington, DC.  The place to view inspiring exciting art was at the Phillips Gallery, which was showing Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party with all its glorious colors and fascinating figures.

 In I953, Allen became a curator and director of the art school, at PhilbrookArtCenterMuseum in Tulsa, Ok.  The Kress Foundation of Washington DC donated a large collection of Italian Renaissance paintings and sculpture to Philbrook, (the home of the Phillips Family of Phillips 66 Oil Company), which is a beautiful Italian Renaissance structure located in a beautiful Italian garden site. During this time, Philbrook sponsored the Oklahoma Art Juried show, in which Allen was able to participate.  Also that year, Philbrook sponsored the American Indian Juried Art show and she met several Indian artists including Pablita Velarde, who was the first woman to win the Grand Purchase Prize.  Allen studied oil painting with Frederic Taubes at Philbrook. 

 Her next position was teaching art in Tulsa Public Schools. During the summer of 1955, Allen studied art in Mexico City, DF at Universidad de las Americas.  The summer workshop project included classes on oil painting, silk screen on fabric, field trips to all major museums of Mexico City, and cultural visits to Teotihuacan, Puebla, and various surrounding historical sites. The brilliant colors of Mexico provided an added component to her thinking and use of color in her paintings. Besides the hands on classes in oil painting and silk screening on fabric, Allen took field trips to see murals all around the city and various archeological sites.  There were mural viewings and lectures on Diego Rivera, Tamayo, Siqueiros, Kahlo, and Juan O’Gorman.  Seeing paintings by these exceptional artists was outstanding and impressive.  In class, she experimented with traditional paintings of people, plein air, and impressionism. Art was everywhere and there was time to soak up as much as possible. Mexico’s vissionary artists were on the leading edge of current techniques and styles which mixed some stylized realism with abstraction.

  Students learned about the cuisine of Mexico and visited markets.  A survey of Latin Music included folk music, mariachis, popular mambo and cha-cha themes as well as classical concerts.  Latin music has a rich color field feeling in the music in association with visual colors.

 A few years after her trip south of the border, she left teaching, and took time out to marry John Allen and have two sons.  He was a California native engineer, who was transferred back to Douglas Aircraft in Santa Monica, in1963. This began her life as an artist of the Malibu beaches and the Sierra of California.  The Allen family were hikers and spent many summer days in Tuolumne Meadows and also climbed Mt.Whitney, where she made watercolor sketches of favorite mountains and streams.

 Allen experimented with traditional subject matter to expressionism.  She continued her studies with Jeanne Dunlap, a very inventive sensitive teacher of both collage and stitchery.  Next, she studied ceramics with Jane Heald, an expert who had studied with Bernard Leach and also in Japan. Photography study was added to her art categories and she won several awards. She participated in local art juried shows in Pacific Palisades, Malibu, and Santa Monica and she had several solo shows. Allen studied art during travels and visited museums in New York, Los Angeles, Paris, London, Florence, Rome, Lausanne, and Geneva.

 Allen taught English and multiple disciplines for Los Angeles Unified Schools and earned an MA from CSUDH and MS from Cal Lutheran during this time.

 When her husband became ill in 2000, she put away her paints and brushes for about 10 years.  During the summer of 2011, she yearned to paint again.  She switched to acrylic abstracts and produced more than 150 Color Field paintings from small to large and had two solo shows.

 “This has been a great time in my life to return to the paintings I love so much.  I am experimenting with Color Field style and All over abstracts. And I am pouring and dripping. These paintings seem to be in my thoughts and in my head… ideas just waiting to be applied to the canvas.  I have been painting for more than 65 years.   I was born one year after Helen Frankenthaler and I feel a close affinity to her art creations even though I never met her, I feel a connection to her Color Field art. There is a second connection to the splashy colors of Sam Francis which inspire me.”  See:   ArtSlant  Jeanne Allen

 Some artists in New York, California, and everywhere chose to develop paintings which send a message to society by creating a social statement comment.  Some artists chose to create Pop Art.  Other artists concentrate on pleasant wide color arrays which speak to the viewer about feelings and happiness, and bright colors for the viewer’s mind by focusing on the feelings which arise by viewing the colors of nature from the world around us. Color Field painting is alive and well in Southern California.








           Splash I, II, III,   poured and dripped acrylic on canvas, 2013, Jeanne Allen

 Allen pursues her studies of Color Field painting, a style of abstract painting that emerged in New York City during the 1940s and 1950s. It was inspired by European modernism and somewhat related to Abstract Expressionism, while many of its notable early proponents were among the pioneering Abstract Expressionists. Frankenthaler, Diebenkorn, and Sam Francis all created Color Field paintings from their own point of view.  Color Field is characterized primarily by large fields of flat, solid color spread across or stained into the canvas creating areas of unbroken surface and a flat picture plane or splashes of color with fluidity. The movement places less emphasis on gesture, brushstrokes and action in favor of an overall consistency of form and process. In color field painting "color is freed from objective context and becomes the subject in itself.”

 Because Allen was painting near the CaliforniaBeach and Santa Monica, she was more influenced by local artists such as Sam Francis, Richard Diebenkorn and still her attraction to Helen Frankenthaler.  She tried large flat solid color approach, but was more drawn to using splashes of color with the white of the canvas or paper that Francis utilized.  Sam Francis had created many early water color paintings as did Allen and water color techniques are affiliated with the water color of Color Field applications using the strong whites already there before the creation begins.

 So, Color field put down its roots after WWII and continued to expand from early 50s to the present time.  Galleries are constantly producing spectacular shows of Diebenkorn, Sam Francis, Helen Frankenthaler, Pollock, Clement Greenberg, Rothko and others.  Janet Sobel is called the Grandmother of Drip.

 There are many painters who are aghast at drips on paintings.  Every artist needs to study the history of art from early times to the Renaissance to impressionism to the 50s of Jackson Pollock, when he was pouring or dripping fluid paint onto his canvas.  Helen Frankenthaler is famous for pouring or dripping. Sam Francis dripped or flipped paint on his canvas or prints.  It is OK to pour or drip.  One does not have to make everything super perfect in the classical format. Pouring and dripping began with experimentation in the 40s and 50s and is alive today on 2014, a viable contemporary art technique.  People who claim we should have no drips are uninformed or ignorant of a whole vast art movement of experimental Color Field or Abstract Expression artists.

 So long live Color Field painting and artists!  Do all that you can to keep this style alive and well.


BFA: Design, Delta Phi Delta, Honorary Art Fraternity.  MA, MS

CSUDH, Cal Lutheran, KU, UCLA, UCSB, SMCC, Pepperdine

Universidad de las Americas, Mexico, DF 

Oil, Watercolor, Life Drawing, Nature Drawing,  Plein Air, Impressionism, Constructive Drawing, Sculpture, Silver smithing, Weaving, Art History, Design, Graphic Arts: Professors:Raymond Eastwood, Eldon Tefft, Bernard Frasier.

 Experience: Art teacher, Director Museum Art School, Curator: Art Education, PhilbrookArt Museum. Director of art classes for adults and children.  Museum curator for Kress Collection Renaissance Art donation to Philbrook; Oklahoma Juried Art and American Indian Art juried shows and Gallery preparation for Kress Collection.  Studied oil painting with Frederic Taubes.

Oil painting, silk screen on fabric, field trips, major museums, culture visits Teotihuacan, Puebla, historical sites, cuisine of Mexico, Latin Music: classical, folk mariachis, Mambo, Cha-cha.  Study Murals: Diego Rivera, Siqueiros, O’Gorman, Frieda Kahlo, Tamayo. 

 Move to Pacific Palisades; Study: collage, stitchery: with Jeanne Dunlap. Ceramics: Jane Heald expert with Bernard Leach. Photography study.  6 California Teaching Credentials.

Paintings: people, plein air, expressionism, Color Field, abstracts.

   Participation in LA and SM art shows

 Local art juried shows, Pacific Palisades, Malibu, Santa Monica.

 Solo and group shows.  Awards.

 2014: Solo Show acrylic abstracts

2011-13: Painting acrylic abstracts: 100 Color Field paintings. Solo show.   

Posted by Jeanne Allen on 5/4/14 | tags: photography traditional modern landscape realism mixed-media sculpture abstract drawing painting color field abstracts Plein Air

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