Slick marble, black robes, and hushed courtrooms form the landscape of Allison Ford’s workdays alongside a Greenville-based federal judge. The only artwork the attorney is likely to spy during her 9-to-5 grind involves vintage oil paintings of solemn-faced justices long gone. But at night, once home, she lets the colors come out and run crazy across the canvas. “I think there are many parallels between being a lawyer and being an artist,” the 37-year-old confides. “The part I like about being a lawyer is the writing and being a problem solver, and that’s what art is. I put this paint here, I put this blob there. It’s like a puzzle that uses the same part of my mind. It’s very analytical thinking, but with color.”
The expressive lawyer’s ventures with color have caught the eye of the Southeastern art community, and she’s sold hundreds of paintings over the past ten years. Her works hang in galleries and shows from Maryland to Georgia, and most recently at High Point, North Carolina’s furniture market. “That was kind of a wow moment,” she admits. “To work with designers who wanted my pieces to complete their showrooms in the furniture capital of the world, and thousands of people got to see it? That was a really good feeling.”
Yet the married mother of two young boys hesitates to use the word arrived. When asked, she says with a laugh, “We’re always striving, and if you think you’ve arrived, you probably haven’t and still have some work to do. I appreciate that I’m an emerging artist and that’s good enough.”
Growing up in Charleston, Allison enjoyed crafting, especially making stone and wire jewelry. But art as a career wasn’t even a doodle on a legal pad. At Wake Forest University, her desire to create lay hidden beneath English and poli-sci papers—the same while studying law at the University of Georgia. She never received formal painting instructionuntil she was a working attorney . . . and let’s just say the jury was out after her first attempt. “My sister and I took a class in Charlotte,” she shares. “It was abstract, someone trying to teach you add paint here, maybe add some paint there. I just didn’t get it.” But her inner artist kept trying to break onto her docket. So, she sampled another class in Greenville. She recalls, “The teacher exposed us to some color theory, and that made it click! It was a totally different experience.”
Today in her free time, Allison creates abstract wonders on canvas and paper, including acrylic paintings and mixed-media collages. “I usually just pick a color, and it starts pouring out,” she explains. “It comes from my mind and my soul. I usually like to have an area of white space to give your eye a place to rest, and not be overwhelming.” The multitasking mom paints in her family’s sunroom, with her boys frequently playing at her feet. “I’m inspired and encouraged by the way children think about art,” she says. “Their creativity, they are so free. I think a lot of times we put a lot of pressure on ourselves. They just go at it.”
Ever the attorney, her closing argument promotes the arts. “Anybody can find themselves creatively,” Allison states. “It makes you a better, whole person. There are so many opportunities now to take classes and explore. Painting helps me be the best me I can be.”
Visit HelloAllisonArt.com to view more of Allison Ford’s work.