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ASK THE ARTIST: 12 Questions & A Joke with Mike McAllister

Updated: Oct 24, 2022



Though Mike McAllister had a career in creative advertising and marketing for 37 years, he never strayed far from his love of creating fine art. Now retired, Mike has concentrated his attention to his painting and love of restoring antique cars. Mike earned a BFA from the High Museum School in Atlanta, GA and attended the Cleveland Institute of Art and the University of Delaware. Though he has worked in many mediums his true passion is soft pastels finding inspiration in the works of both the French and American Impressionists, the American master Edward Hopper and by the colorful pastels and oils, of Wolf Kahn. With more than 75 group shows and over a dozen one-person shows, his works reside in numerous public and private collections throughout the US, Baja Mexico, Canada and Asia including the Cleveland Museum of Art.



“My goal in painting is to interpret my very personal reaction to a scene or event so that the viewer also forms a reaction which- while not necessarily the same as mine- is no less personal.”

-Michael Kay McAllister


Q If there was a favorite work of art you could hang or display in your home, which would it be?

MM If I could obtain any Pissarro piece it would make me very happy but, three stand out: “Boulevard Montmartre Winter Morning”, “Farm at Osney” and “Vegetable Gardens in Eragny”.


THE FARM AT OSNY. Camille Pissarro. Oil on canvas 22 × 18 inches, 1883
THE FARM AT OSNY. Camille Pissarro. Oil on canvas 22 × 18 inches, 1883

Q If there was one dead artist that you could hang out with for a day, who would that be? Why?

MM Camille Pissarro. His understanding of color, tone, technique, and design have deeply influenced my work but I’d like to know how he works and what his thought process is.


Pissarro’s “Self Portrait” and one of his beautiful pastels.
Pissarro’s “Self Portrait” and one of his beautiful pastels.
“Painting, art in general, enchants me. It is my life. What else matters? When you put all your soul into a work, all that is noble in you, you cannot fail to find a kindred soul who understands you, and you do not need a host of such spirits. Is not that all an artist should wish for?”
“Work at the same time on the sky, water, branches, ground, keeping everything going on an equal basis… Don’t be afraid of putting on color… Paint generously and unhesitatingly, for it is best not to lose the first impression.”
– Camille Pissarro, French artist (10 July 1830 – 13 November 1903)
Camille Pissarro was a Danish-French Impressionist and Neo-Impressionist painter born on the island of St Thomas, US Virgin Islands. His importance resides in his contributions to both Impressionism and Post-Impressionism. Pissarro studied from great forerunners, including Gustave Courbet and Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot. He later studied and worked alongside Georges Seurat and Paul Signac when he took on the Neo-Impressionist style at the age of 54. In 1873 he helped establish a collective society of fifteen aspiring artists, becoming the “pivotal” figure in holding the group together and encouraging the other members. Art historian John Rewald called Pissarro the “dean of the Impressionist painters”, not only because he was the oldest of the group, but also “by virtue of his wisdom and his balanced, kind, and warmhearted personality”. Cézanne said “he was a father for me. A man to consult and a little like the good Lord,” and he was also one of Gauguin’s masters. Renoir referred to his work as “revolutionary”, through his artistic portrayals of the “common man”, as Pissarro insisted on painting individuals in natural settings without “artifice or grandeur”.Pissarro is the only artist to have shown his work at all eight Paris Impressionist exhibitions, from 1874 to 1886. He “acted as a father figure not only to the Impressionists” but to all four of the major Post-Impressionists, including Georges Seurat, Paul Cézanne, Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin.
– https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camille_Pissarro

THEME ONE #9- EARLY MORNING. Mike McAllister. Soft pastel on paper 13 x 14 inches
THEME ONE #9- EARLY MORNING. Mike McAllister. Soft pastel on paper 13 x 14 inches

Q If there was a magic power you could use in your art making, what would it be?

MM Much more time.


MIKE IN HIS STUDIO
MIKE IN HIS STUDIO

Q If we were going to talk about your art, where would you want to start?

MM I feel like I’ve been exploring the visual world all my life, even drawing before I could talk.



PALM GROVE. Mike McAllister. Soft pastel 11 x 14 inches
PALM GROVE. Mike McAllister. Soft pastel 11 x 14 inches

Q What quality in others makes you want to slap them?

MM People, especially creative people, who don’t believe in themselves, who are afraid to try to expand themselves and afraid to fail or, sometimes, succeed.



CHILE FIELDS. Mike McAllister. soft pastel on paper 12 x 16 inches
CHILE FIELDS. Mike McAllister. soft pastel on paper 12 x 16 inches

Q What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given as far as your art, inspiration or career?

MM Any number of things might be the answer to this question. However, probably the best advice I ever got was from one of my instructors in art school. He emphasized that whatever we were doing we should always use the best materials so that we would concentrate all our efforts on the creative and not be fighting poor materials. To emphasize this, he had each of us purchase a sheet of the most expensive watercolor paper in the school store (the equivalent of a pitcher of beer at the local bar). He then had us tear it in half, half again and so forth until we had nothing but confetti. He then had us throw all of the little pieces out the classroom window. His comment, “Now you don’t have to worry about ruining an expensive piece of paper, you already have.” This is a lesson I pass on when I teach. Buy the best materials and put all your efforts into the creative process.