Nancy Allen

My early training in pencil sketch, oil painting and acrylic provide a foundation for applying various techniques to the art of silk painting.

I started painting on silk in the 1980s, after a friend in Florida described the beautiful silk art she had seen in Germany. It all started as a lark. We bought a dozen silk scarves, painted them with “touristy” things: flamingos, parrots, tropical fish, sea shells, palm trees. Then we took them out to Madeira Beach and sold all of them at the first shop we visited. This was all it took for me to decide I wanted to keep painting on silk. I am primarily self-taught – I am constantly working on my technique, relying on books about silk painting, recommendations of my suppliers, and discussions with other silk artists. I also joined SPIN, Silk Painters International, which offers support and inspiration to its members. I am currently a member of Tennessee Crafts Guild and the Blount County Arts and Craft Guild.

After moving to Asheville, NC, my designs and techniques changed. I wanted to be more professional in my art. Instead of using silk paint, I began using silk dyes, which yield brighter colors and are more color-fast. I began collecting photos, making sketches, looking at magazines – anything that caught my eye would serve as the inspiration for a scarf or other wearable piece.

The mountains provide a wonderful backdrop for my work, and I began doing landscapes, florals, and geometric designs, experimenting with clothing pieces as well as decorative works – wall hangings and pillows, pants, jackets, hats, skirts. Still, the bulk of my work consists of scarves and shawls. As I became more comfortable with the materials I use, I grew more relaxed in my attitude toward the finished creation. This has resulted in some very unusual but striking finished products.

Silk painting is my passion and my therapy. It is gratifying to see someone purchase and wear one of my creations, but it’s something I would still do for my own satisfaction.

Nancy Allen, Silk Scarf Artist