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Artist Studio: William McAllister

William McAllister
215 Holland Avenue
Braddock, PA  15104

Born: 1935 (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)

Lived/Active: California / United Kingdom

Profession(s): Painter

Known for: Genre, Interior, Cityscapes

Medium(s): Watercolor

Price Information as of 12/10/2010:
$1,300 to $4,500 for works from 5" x 7" to 30" x 42"

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 William McAllister
Vintage Django - Oxford
For Sale
  William McAllister
Taming the Catherine Wheel - Bibury
For Sale

Artist Biography:
Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on the 15th of August 1935.

In 1941, at the age of six, he started painting in oils.  In 1944, at the age of nine years, received his first commission to paint a portrait.  At the same time he was apprenticed to Frank Vittor, a well known sculptor in Pittsburgh.

In 1946, was enrolled in a special course for painters at Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh.

Following a tour of duty in the Air Force, he received a BFA from Carnegie Tech, in Pittsburgh.

In 1964, started to work in the Art Department of major Motion Picture studios, (including Desilu, Walt Disney, MGM, Columbia, 20th Century Fox, Paramount, Universal, Warner Brothers, Viacom, Lorimar, and many other independent producers), as a Set Designer.  Named Art Director and Production Designer in 1975, Mr. McAllister did enjoy thirty-six years of work in this challenging field.  He now paints full time.

Started serious works in watercolors in 1982.  Painted his last abstract oil painting in 1985.

Mr. McAllister is in constant demand as a juror, lecturer and conductor of very creative, style forming workshops.

December 2000 to December 2003:  Artist in Residence - St Catherine's Court - Bath, England.
Carnegie Tech; Pittsburgh, PA; 1958-1961
Aaron Goldberg; Los Angeles, CA 1983-1985

2002, Rachel Wolfe SPLASH 7, North Light, 2 pages (color)
2000, Joe Francis Dowden Watercolor: 2 Books in 1, Quarto, 2 pages (color)
1998, Rachel Wolfe SPLASH 5, North Light, 2 pages (color)
1996, Rachel Wolfe SPLASH 4, North Light, 2 pages (color)
1994, Rachel Wolfe SPLASH 3, North Light, 2 pages (color)

Exhibition Record (Galleries and Art Shows):
1986 - Brand XVI - 1991 - Brand XX1 - 2000 - Mr McAllister was juror of selection & awards - Brand XXX
1988 -'89-'90-'91;'91 , Lisa Dubins Gallery, Los Angeles
1994 - Novaspace - Mapping the Jungle
1994-'95-'96 - Cypress Gallery - Carmel, CA
1994-'95 - Waterhouse Gallery - Santa Barbara, CA
1994-'95-'96-'97 - Watercolor West
1998 - Galleria Prova - Tokyo
2000 - VENICE ART WALK - Painting sold at sold in the silent auction.
2001 - Beaux Arts Gallery - Bath, England
2001 - The Mall Gallery - London, England
2005 - Chome' Fine Arts - Bath, England
2006 - The James Gallery - Pittsburgh, PA
2006 - St. Vincent's College Gallery - Latrobe, PA
2007-'08-'09 - George Stern Fine Arts - West Hollywood, CA
Countless watercolor society shows since 1986

Society of Motion Picture Art Directors; Los Angeles, CA; 1964-2000
Various Watercolor Societies; 1982-present

Magazine and Newspaper References:
1992 - ESQUIRE MAGAZINE - "Man at His Best" column by Phil Patton
1995 - Cover of the Carmel Gallery Guide
1995 - WATERCOLOR PREMIER SUMMER ISSUE - Painting the Darkness
2001 - THE ARTIST - An award winning painting featured.
2002 - THE ART PAPER - Featured on the cover and a whole page article.
2002 - THE ARTIST - "In Conversation With . . ." - Featuring five works.
2002 - LEISURE PAINTER MAGAZINE - "A Place In The Sun"
2003 - ARTIST & ILLUSTRATORS - An article by Mr. McAllister

Artist Statement:

My resume defines one part of who I am.  The following outlines what I want to say about what and why I paint.

I would say that one of the major things that make my paintings identifiably mine is the selection of my subject matter.  Like many of my peers, I painted large, abstract oils for many years.  Then, with the realization that the world wasn't going to end in an apocalyptic cloud, but more likely would suffer the chance of death through apathy and neglect I switched back to the formative art of my youth - realism.

I'd also completed commenting on the momentary passions and fashions of my youth and, having been informed by my own life experience, I began my own unique testimony on the role of the very relevant art of painting.  Having spent, at that time, over two decades designing motion pictures, based on the emotional requirements of a script, it was natural for me to seek out, for my mature artistic expression, and describe in pigment, those environments that people created for conducting their public lives that are most telling about themselves.  I especially react to those places that are created by people for whom the quality of their environment is important, even in the mundane.  These are the subjects that have some meaning to me.  Meaning that I hope to convey to the viewer in some way and on some level - not that I', responsible for how anyone else reacts to my work.  I think that my responsibility ends at the point where a reaction, if any, begins.  I just trust that if I'm honest in my intent to perceive my subject matter, through my own reaction to it that reflects some aspect of the human condition, then anyone else's reaction to the work will come from that same pool of recognition and, hopefully, understanding.

People react strongly to my work because of this quest of mine to portray the human condition in universally recognized forms.  A collector of my work, in Hong Kong, has especially treasured pictures that I painted of locations around Catalina Island in Southern California.  They remind him so much of the first twenty-one years of his life, spent aboard his father's fishing junk.  It is summed up better, I believe, by the following two quotes, first by Charles Champlin, host of CHAMPLIN ON FILM on the Bravo cable network, and past Arts Editor of the Los Angeles Times.

"Bill puts form and content together in a lovely way, and in all his pictures that I've seen there is a prevailing kindness, an observer's warm eye, or perhaps it's a warm and sympathetic observer's keen eye."

and by Lisa Dubins, whose Dubins Gallery in Brentwood handled my work for five years, until her retirement, who once remarked:

"I could never imagine Bill painting fruit and flowers.  He has too much going on in his life."

It is important to mention that all of my paintings - studies and large studio pieces - are painted in transparent watercolors only.  I paint in transparent watercolor, not out of some dogmatic devotion to the medium, but because of the edge it gives me.  I liken painting in transparent watercolor to running toward a frozen pond in slick-soled leather shoes, then sliding across the surface, praying that one doesn't hit an ice cube imbedded in the surface - for there is little or no steering once the voyage commences.  That edge provides the tension necessary for me to create.

It has nothing to do with ability, and all to do with competence and dedication.  Creativity has less to do with talent than it has to do with motivation.  The desire to create does not exist on its own without acting upon that desire.  Wanting to paint, thinking about painting, mentally planning a painting is meaningless and futile.  You must plant your butt in a chair, or your feet in front of an easel, and do the work - then it will happen.  The trait that I hope that you may have observed in me is that if you take the time to learn all that you can about that which you love to do, you will develop a confidence that only comes with competence.  Security comes with that form of confidence, and through that security you become assured enough to share, and once you can share you will always be learning.  From that point on you are your own best teacher.

I suppose one other thing about my work, that is evident upon viewing an overall selection of my paintings, is the richness of the darks that are obtainable with watercolor.  I felt a certain frustration in all the years I painted with oil paints.  The hard reflective surface formed by the dried paint emulsion seemed to defeat the intensity of my deepest blacks and sepias.  I find that the matte surface of the cold pressed paper that I favor makes for some very rich dark passages that I include in my paintings.

I think that most of my paintings contain at least one, but usually a combination, of the subjects usually thought of in connection with figurative art:  skies, water, trees, still lifes, buildings, flower studies and even portraiture.  If any or all of the above are important for the conveyance of the emotional content I deem important to communicate in any given painting, I take it on.   I've never considered any subject too difficult.

                      most vagabonds i knowed
               don't ever want to find the culprit
that remains the object of their long relentless quest
                  the obsession's in the chasing
                      and not the apprehending
           the pursuit you see and never the arrest

                                - tom waits -
                               "foreign affair"
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