Community Education

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Meet Mark, a Community Education instructor for 25 years!

Mark Allison has been a Community Education instructor at LBCC for 25 years, a recipient of the 2003 Teacher of the Year award, and an accomplished artist.

The son of a photographer and a civil engineer, his life has been largely influenced by aesthetics, composition, and creation. The first time he sat at an easel, made by his parents, he was 5 years old. That was the start of what would become his lifelong passion.

His Open Studio class, one of several he teaches through Community Education, is designed for beginning to advanced artists to create freely with Mark’s guidance when requested.

Mark Allison holding a painting

On an April morning, 15 people came to create, ages spanning from teenager to retiree. One painted a portrait of his sister’s dog for her birthday. Another painted his son’s ‘63 Chevy for his birthday. Someone else painted a landscape from a photo on her phone. Some used pencils, some used paint, some used charcoal.

A group of students gathered around Mark who began a color intensity exercise. On a piece of paper, he showed them different styles of applying paint. He discussed how the oils on your hands affect the paper, how the dampness of your brush will react on paper, and how a paint stroke will look based on pressure applied.

“Working with water is kind of like driving in traffic - you have to kind of hurry along,” he told the students. “You have to carefully access the dampness of the paper.”

He showed onlookers how to mix colors to make other colors, and recommended colors to use or not use. He cautioned of things to consider when choosing colors. He explained in poetic detail why he prefers some colors over others.

“The color yellow is for relaxation, often used by color therapists,” he told them. “Blue reduces heart rate so it’s a great color for a bedroom. Red does the opposite.”

Looking at the palette in front of him, he pointed to a vibrant red.

“The color of love,” he said, “it just opens your heart looking at it.”

Around the classroom, Mark displayed paintings used as visuals to show techniques he referred to. Many of the works used Cubism, a technique made famous by Pablo Picasso, where geometric shapes create two-dimensional images.

“I like using sharp edges,” he told his students “Jagged and sharp edges get both right and left brain to look at them.”

Since the left side of the brain wants to create order and the right side does not, Mark explained the tidiness of the geometric shapes that create abstract images gives the brain both order and chaos, attracting both sides to engage.

Mark encouraged his students to understand the rules of painting; why things are taught the way they are.

“Once you learn the rules you can then start to challenge them,” he told the class. “But first, you learn the rules.”

With many accomplishments as an artist in his own right, Mark was selected to design the 2009 Fall Festival poster and has received a Purchase Award from Oregon State University for his works featuring agriculture.

Are you ready to create your masterpiece?