Community Dufferin News Lifestyle Local Contributor

Robert Allen: A Man For All Seasons

Thumbnail Sketches… by Connie Munson

Artist Robert Allen
Artist Robert Allen

This is a good place to start with Robert Allen because the calm and composed exterior belies a mind churning with ideas and potential.  With his background in the corporate IT world, where he enjoyed and honed his technical skills for creating presentations and branding, Robert found he needed more scope and time for creative expression with his own work.

Now he has reimagined himself a new lifestyle where his ideas can pour out, just as his words tumble so quickly over each other, and he then can map out the progressions one from the other to the next. “I have to keep track of it, (those ideas), and write down my goals … (I use) lists.”  Seeing potential his mind races ahead “…always (the) thought is there.”

As a child, he loved painting miniatures.  When 12 years old he built a playing board.  It folded up as needed, a very handy and inventive feature of it.  Even at that young age, Robert was looking ahead.  What if he needed to build another one?  There might be a market you know for those folding games tables.  So he prepared a budget sheet with all the details, the materials requirements and prices, all at the ready. 

For Robert, seeing the potential in what is around him, he finds his mind races ahead.  But always with the thought there, so it takes some personal management skills along with the fearlessness to take risks.  His creative practice ranges widely, as does his mind, from creating videos, to building games tables, to spray painting, to watercolours, his inspirational photography, and the artful repurposing of everyday items. 

Painting by Robert Allen
Painting by Robert Allen

For instance, while simply a shark fin to some, for Robert it became an arresting and very effective sign in his yard.  Then there were those inexpensive tables, a loss leader item from Ikea, another blank surface waiting to be used.  With children and young people doing their studying at home now, he reasoned they could become inspirational study tables with his designs.

We see his love for colour and fantasy with his spray painting pieces.  Robert started this about six years ago after watching a YouTube video on the technique.  He loved how fast it was and the entertainment value of it, too.  A huge fan of comics and heroes, he easily connects with children and adolescents.  His fascination with space and pure imagination come together here and engenders a sense of crossing boundaries which pulls people into these pieces.  Getting his work out in front of people is yet another challenge that Robert has embraced enthusiastically and methodically.  Working as a vendor at events, such as fairs and festivals, or even painting live at these, which proves to be mesmerizing for people.  One of his pieces of birch trees, untitled, 36×36, oil enamel spray paints, was commissioned during the Shelburne Street Event.  Robert also exhibits at various galleries and art exhibitions in southern Ontario.

His own artistic process with spray painting is something he features weekly on Thursdays at 2 pm as Spray Painting with Robert on Facebook Live. Now, with several episodes behind him, this too is looking to become a very successful venture.  

In keeping with his imaginative worlds, the door to his spray room is called, Tardis, Time And Relative Dimensions In Space.  This is from Dr. Who for those of us not so much in the know.  Well protected with his face mask, Robert looks the part of a time traveller and well might we ask what worlds he has seen when gazing at Big Blue, 36×48, done in oil enamel spray paints.

Big Blue, 36x48 - Robert Allen
Big Blue, 36×48 – Robert Allen

Robert’s work is a stepping stone for him to his larger inner world.  His art journey is infused with his spiritual connection to his God’s glory, with seeing design on a grand view, and how sunlight illuminates.  Some of his watercolours, the 8×10 inch pieces, are done with lines from hymns. Likewise, his hikes on trails in the area are chronicled with his wonderful photography, which in turn is then reposted on social media with different biblical quotes.

Beauty is such power, he comments. And at that point we both fall silent, contemplating the immensity of those few words and such a big truth.  In a world where so many of us juggle competing demands on our time and attention, Robert continues to do his things first.  His lists with goals, and his agenda, set up weekly and monthly, allow him to explore his world and reflect the beauty and wonder he sees around him.

Even as manager at a local drive-through, where he thoroughly enjoys the energy of his team of young adults, Robert still finds time to belong to different arts organizations.  As a member of Headwaters Arts with its gallery at the Alton Mill Arts Centre, Robert volunteers his time in different capacities and on committees and participates in their art exhibitions.  You can view his work at Robert Allen Art Studio here and inquire about his current outreach to promote local business through his RA Social Media Productions company.

A man for all seasons, Robert Allen steps forward daily into a world of many wonders.

Thumbnail Sketches© is a column Connie Munson, local photographer, artist, and writer, has developed for various arts organizations to profile their artist-members.  She is a director on the board of Headwaters Arts, which has their gallery in the Alton Mill Arts Centre in Caledon, a member of several other arts organizations, and may be reached at

References – Robert Allen: A Man For All Seasons

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