Fire and Water: Watercolor and Inks by Austin Van Allen

Don't miss the February exhibit of local artist, Austin Van Allen. 

Van Allen is an American artist, painter, and art teacher based in State College, Pennsylvania. His watercolor and ink style is a relatively new direction for his artwork. During the pandemic of 2020, society’s need for control overwhelmed him; this, along with career challenges affected his mental state, and his art. He felt lost and could no longer focus on hyperrealism - the ultimate expression of control. Instead, he started throwing paint onto paper using his hands, brushes, and cups of water.

This raw, unrestrained way of painting allowed him to more fully appreciate the beauty of liquid watercolor paint: colors bleed together, water runs and pools in unique places, blooms happen - he learned how to celebrate all of it. All the thoughts and feelings that he keeps locked in explode out in bursts of brushstrokes, swirls of color, and masses of lines.

There is a release of emotion, energy and passion that comes from casting off control, as well as an acceptance and appreciation of the imperfect result. The ink that is drawn over top of the paint is only meant to highlight the beauty of the watercolor and provide a little depth and texture in the artwork.

Even though the ink adds an element of control to his art, it is always reactionary and subservient to the freedom expressed by the watercolor paint. These works of art explore the balance and dichotomy of first, relinquishing control (the painting) and then, adding in complete control (the ink work). Since creating artwork in this style, Austin’s work has been featured locally, nationally, and internationally including shows in Madrid, Luxembourg City, Monaco City, and Milan.

To see more of Austin’s artwork, follow him on Instagram @a.j.v._art, or, for purchase inquiries, visit his website at