My first exposure to Alison Stittsworth-Hall
‘s art was when she posted pictures of a restaurant that she had painted some time ago (it no longer is open) on the 614 artist Facebook page. I loved the bold colors and patterns that she used. From there, we ‘talked’ online and got the ball rolling. Since that time, we have had the opportunity to meet in person at her studio where we talked about her, our home town and more!
I was thrilled to learn that Alison is from my burg…from Pittsburgh…and attended The Art Institute of Pittsburgh, graduating in 1994 with a degree in interior design. She incorporates this skill into every single job and painting she creates which separates her from many ‘painters’ in the field, having the design background and 20 years experience putting it to work. Of course, we had to talk about where we grew up and discovered that we grew up in burbs very close to each other. She even knew about the swimming pool that my dad was very instrumental in getting built! If you’re not from Pittsburgh, the rest of what we talked about excitedly would mean much to you…LOL! Suffice it to say that we both speak Pittsburghese!
Creating has always been part of who she is, sewing her own clothes and for friends, making her own bedroom curtains and more. She states that she knew from an early age that she wanted to be her own boss and it had to be in some area of art or design….“the painting part kind of “picked” me!” That truly surprised her! When she realized that she was actually
good at it and people would pay her to do it in their homes/ on their walls, “well then I knew I had found my calling and passion in life”.
Her entrepreneurial spirit came naturally from her dad who owned his own businesses for a good portion of her youth. Unfortunately, when she was the tender age of 15, her world turned upside down due to the economy . However, she found herself during that difficult period, became humbled and a more down-to-earth and strong young lady. It also helped her learn that you do what you have to do to support yourself and your family.
The Art Institute of Pittsburgh provided another turning point for her, too. She thoroughly enjoyed her time there, the people she met and getting to know more about that side of the ‘burg. After graduation, she worked for a furniture company and private design firm for a few years but neither seemed like a good fit. So, when a fellow student/artist contacted her and suggested that she move to Columbus and start a business with him, she jumped at the chance at the age of 24 and has never looked back.
For the first 10 years, her art was actually her clients’ art, doing many projects she never imagined she could. In other words, it was what they specified and wanted in their homes and she also did faux painting. Initially, she didn’t get much help from other designers but that ended up being a good thing for her because it forced her to learn as she went, create a professional friend circle and build clientele mainly through word-of-mouth for the past 20 years. She has several loyal clients and designers that keep her busy and help spread her name. She also relies heavily on her Facebook connections, posting daily what she’s working on.to keep potential customers excited and interested in her and her art. This work built her confidence (without her even realizing it) and, although it was a slow growth in confidence and ability, it eventually led to her to start making her own art.
Eventually, her hubby joined her in this endeavor and worked with her for over 5 years. Then when she had her daughter and was home a lot more, her side business was born:”Branch” (2008). Although she was afraid at first to show others her creations, her excitement and curiosity about what she could create for herself , she chose to dive right in and start participating in shows. To her surprise, people responded well!
She actually has three business pages on Facebook to assist her in separating her photos and art works….
ARTistics by Alison: the umbrella name for all that she creates, initially formed in 1997
Branch by Alison Stittsworth-Hall: This is her custom art page. It is a “branch” of artistics. Any custom commission pieces her clients request are on this page along with any canvas pieces and art glass she creates for sale.
“A.S.is…”photography: This is her photographic art page.
She finds inspiration everywhere…the sky, the trees, each season and it’s color palette, textures in leaves and stones and flowers. Everywhere she looks she sees beauty, so it’s a challenge to get thru a day and stay focused. So she has also become a photographer, taking photos of all that inspires her on a daily basis so she can refer back to them constantly.
Over the years, she has learned so many techniques and new styles making her work a constant journey of growth, learning and experimentation. When asked to categorize her style, she says:
My style is abstract…full of texture and depth…has a classical element due to my love of classical architecture and I tend to take into account the fact that the piece will be hanging in someone’s home at some point. Because of my design background, I always think of that…so I make sure that (the piece) will fit into people’s (color)palettes at home.
The last year has been particularly challenging for her as her life took a rather scary detour. About 14 months ago, she experienced excruciating headaches. Unbeknownst to her, she had developed a brain tumor the size of a tennis ball that had caused an accumulation of fluid on her brain. For the next two weeks as the doctors worked on getting the fluid drained/under control, she painted constantly to keep her sanity. Next, she had to undergo 14 hour surgery to remove the tumor. This resulted in months of physical and occupational therapy, no work, no driving, using a walker and a reevaluation of what is important in her life. A client/restaurateur put together a benefit to help raise funds for her and her family and she realized just how many people loved and cared for her. Rather than viewing all of this as a tragedy, Ali pulled herself up by the bootstraps and found a way to ‘throw away’ the walker and begin to reclaim her life and recommit herself to her art in whatever form it takes. Although she still is not out of the woods re: the tumor (20% of it is still encased in her brain), she has not lost her fierce desire to create.
She now shares a studio at 400 West Rich in Franklinton with 2 other female artists. The connections and amazing artists she has met there have kept her inspired to ‘paint on!’ even through the adversity of the tumor and its effects. As she states, the art shows every month (Franklinton Fridays) there bring so many art lovers into the ‘little world down there’ and have led to some art sales there as well.
Alison says that she doesn’t create for the accolades.‘I guess my joy is seeing the smile on the face of every one that owns my art…the day i hand it to them, their expressions and joy are contagious!’The day she finishes a room in a clients’ house and they express their happiness have kept her going for so many years and is the reason she continues to create. On top of that, she feels blessed to be able to pay her bills by pursuing her passion so it’s not really work!
She thrives on the chaotic..and the random…but it is part of the process for her. Having a love affair with paint, working with it and seeing where it actually takes her is part of the joy. No actual process is necessary.
To put it very succinctly, she says: art is my life…it is my hobby and my career…it is my passion and my love…my constant!
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