Born in Canada and bred in the U.S., Allen Forrest has worked in many mediums: computer graphics, theater, digital music, film, video, drawing and painting. Allen studied acting in the Columbia Pictures Talent Program in Los Angeles and digital media in art and design at Bellevue College (receiving degrees in Web Multimedia Authoring and Digital Video Production.) He currently works in the Vancouver, Canada, as a graphic artist and painter. He is the winner of the Leslie Jacoby Honor for Art at San Jose State University’s Reed Magazine and his Bel-Red painting series is part of the Bellevue College Foundation’s permanent art collection. Forrest’s expressive drawing and painting style is a mix of avant-garde expressionism and post-Impressionist elements reminiscent of van Gogh, creating emotion on canvas.
Painting is a cross between a crap shoot, finding your way out of the woods, and performing a magic act. Each time I begin to paint I feel like I am walking a tightrope—sometimes scary, sometimes exciting, sometimes very quiet, and always, always surprising; leading me where I never expected to go. Doing art makes me lose all sense of time and place and go inside one long moment of creating. Whenever I feel a painting in my gut, I know this is why I paint. The colors are the message, I feel them before my mind has a chance to get involved. Color is the most agile and dynamic medium to create joy. And if you can find joy in your art, then you’ve found something worth holding on to.
Visitant Lit: This image could be something accompanying a psychology or technology article. Tell me about the cross-hatching and what the image conjures for you.
Allen Forrest: A day not too far in the future, when we will be controlled and programmed to such a degree that few of us will escape it.
VL: Love the colors and stances of the women leaning on each other and folded in against themselves. Interesting that there are no hands, just elbows perhaps covering their front when all we see is their full nude backsides.
AF: Yes, those backsides. That lovely swinging mass of flesh. As the song goes “Beauty in motion, she’s rolling just like the ocean.”
VL: I am intrigued for the story of why you chose to paint him, his story is interesting and tragic.
AF: I was sitting in the locker room of the Queen Elizabeth Hotel waiting to be called to my next duty, when I picked up a Time or Newsweek and read there in black and white that Steve Prefontaine had been killed in a car wreck. It hit me like a brick. I had followed some of his exploits and used to be a distance runner years before. It seemed as though he was blessed with success—how could he die?! Years later I became friends with the man (a student with Prefontaine) who actually arrived at the car accident first and pulled Steve’s bloody body from the wreck.
VL: There’s something dark, bruised, and beautiful about this image.
AF: Yes—you got it. No one has ever noticed that before, but that was my intention. These are two wounded people sharing the most tender and loving kiss.
VL: There’s an incredible sense of longing and vulnerability in this. Based on a photo? Is she someone you know? Is she looking at the barn, the bush? Why the dead branch?
AF: She is looking in the distance wondering about the world out there waiting to meet her: the people, places, the wonderment of adventure. She knows she will leave her home in the country, someday soon. I only feel this when I look at the painting. It is not a person I know, just an idea of a woman I wish I could meet.