Alizon Gray was born in 1980 on the Mornington Peninsula, an hour south of Melbourne, Australia. Gray now lives and works in the inner northern suburbs of Melbourne and has been painting abstract works since completing her BFA – Honors in 2005 at the Victorian College of the Arts.
How did you get into art?
My mother is a painter so there were always art materials in easy reach in our home and I was always encouraged to embrace my creativity. I have a newspaper clipping with a picture of my mother and I painting on the beach together when I was about two years old, so it is something that has always been there.
When I was 16 I was confronted with some health issues and left secondary school to focus on my health. At the time my mother was teaching oil painting and would start each class with a meditation to free the mind from the expectation of what the paintings might turn out to be. I joined the classes and found that the experience of mediation and painting was a really positive way for me to work through the challenges I was experiencing. From that point on, painting has been a central part of my life and the practice of painting is very calming for me. I am terrible at being able to sit and meditate now, but the connection to painting through reflection and quietude is still very strong.
How would you describe your style? What makes your art special?
My paintings are generally very layered and tend to have a lot of pink! I don’t intend to make pink paintings, but pink paint makes me feel happy, either when using it in my own work or looking at other artists’ paintings, so I can’t help but use it in my paintings.
When I paint, I paint for myself. I hope to make paintings that are beautiful and make me feel calm when I look at them. I often say that the world is chaos and that I want to make paintings that are a counterpoint to that. I want to paint spaces that interrupt the noise and allow a quiet moment to breathe. I hope that this translates to others when they view them.
How do you go about developing your work?
I am an intuitive painter so I keep building up layers of marks and veils of paint until something clicks and I decide it is finished. I usually start by laying down a ground of colour (usually pink) then start adding squiggles, dots, and shapes, and then paint over part or all of them. By the time I reach the final layer most of these marks are painted out but hints remain which creates a lovely depth to the work.
Who or what influences you?
I am inspired by colour and the act of painting. I am inspired by the journey that I go on with each artwork that I make. Often I finish a painting and I think ‘I don’t quite know how I did that, how did I get from a blank canvas to having an artwork that is now its own entity?’. I feel like there is some sort of magic that happens when I am painting that I am not really controlling; the wonder of not knowing where a painting will go and then the realization that it has found resolution keeps me hooked.
Of course art cannot be made in a vacuum and I am definitely inspired by other artists, particularly those who celebrate colour. Some Australian artists whose work brings me joy include Lara Merrett, Jahnne Pasco White, Danica Chappell, Megan Grant, Ken Done, and Idris Murphy.
What are you planning to do next?
I am currently developing a body of work for my solo exhibition at Weswal Gallery early next year.