Baffled onlookers watched as spray-paint artist Jason Allen of Iowa did wonders with his mind and hands during the 2019 Meeker County Fair.
What amazed the spectators was Allen’s ability to put on an interactive show while painting. He frequently asked questions such as what the audience thought the spray-paint smelled like, and exhibited a sense of humor, as the eagerness of the crowd heightened in anticipation of the final result of Allen’s unfolding artwork.
“People like meeting an artist,” said Allen, who was accompanied by his pet pug Gypsy. “They like seeing it done (and) for a couple of bucks, they can take some home. It’s always a good story I can tell my friends.”
Allen’s appearance in Litchfield followed stops at the State Fair of Louisiana, Dubuque County Fair, Georgia State Fair, Tennessee State Fair and others. After the Meeker County Fair, he was headed to the Dakota County Fair, in Farmington, Minnesota.
Allen uses a variety of instruments to transition what’s in the sphere of his abstract mind into the concrete reality. He uses palette knives, paint scrapers, foam paint brushes, acrylic artist grade spray paint, acrylic coats, bowls, water caps, an Advil bottle, an old microwave plate and an old cereal bowl. He created his own spinning table on which his canvas is stationed and where all the magic happens.
“I draw a lot of stuff,” he said. “A lot of abstract. I tend to steer away from beaches and galaxy scenes because I do so much of it with this. But I do a lot of still-life sketch—you know I sketch the pug a lot. Having a tattoo background, I notice that a lot of artwork has been focused as to be like concise, flashy-type pieces—kind of like a personalized individual, one-shot of what you would see on a wall at a tattoo parlor or something. So I do tend to make my artwork do like the lay of a tattoo.”
Apart from other artwork that he has experience with, spray-painting at festivities is a more practical job, he said.
“I do a lot of different forms of artwork,” Allen said. “I’ve worked in tattoo parlors and stuff. I’ve pretty much been involved in the arts since I had my first job. So I’ve always kind of been an artist. This is one that pays the bills man. It’s really easy for me to bring this to the people, I could bring it to the fair. By now, most people have seen this on Facebook, on Instagram or somewhere, but they’ve never seen it live, and I just like bringing it to the people.”
Allen likes to capture the force that cannot be observed in physical objects.
“I like to try to sketch things that can’t be seen,” Allen said. “What I mean is like I … bought some of these really old trappers’ traps off of eBay, and then I would set the trap, and I would sketch the trap … I’m trying to capture the energy stored within the trap. I’ll sketch marshmallows or cotton balls because there’s a quality about them that really can’t be (seen). ... If you can capture that quality, you know you’re advancing as an artist. I try to challenge myself for the most part. Anything that’s challenging.”
As an artist, Allen bears testament to always striving for perfection and constantly progressing no matter what, he said.
“I view stagnation in any form of art … as a death,” Allen said. “That’s what happens to artists when they just get a name for just doing this one thing, and that’s all they do over and over again.”