Tomisha Lovely-Allen

December 23, 2020

Tomisha Lovely-Allen is a self-taught portrait and figure artist from Louisville.

“Capturing momentary glimpses of people being their natural selves always spark my urge to create. Witnessing emotions as manifested through facial expressions and body language is intriguing. People are some of the most expressive beings in creation. Even with the greatest effort it is difficult to hide some of the most common emotions and expressions including fear, sadness, anger, excitement, wonder and imagination. My process always begins with a connection between an unexpectant subject and my camera. I then proceed to translate the original experience seen through the lens to canvas usually with oil paints.”

Tomisha has four paintings in the Call and Response exhibit. Her work is also featured in the Momentum exhibit.

Dreads Under Blue Hat
Tomisha Lovely-Allen (Louisville, KY)
9″ x 12″ | Oil on Canvas
$320 framed, $275 unframed

In an age in which society is so captivated by media and being attached to electronic devices, and now COVID-19, we are becoming more isolated and therefore miss out on the physical connection we naturally have with one another. The art that I create draws me back to that natural connection and the acknowledgment of the valuable presence of human life.

“Dreads Under Blue Hat,” a 9” X 12” oil on canvas, was inspired by a walk through the St. James Court Art Show in Louisville, KY. Camera in tow, I was looking for the opportunity to capture interesting subjects in the hustle and bustle of the crowds. I was drawn immediately to this gentleman because of his towering and demanding height and the playful way in which light traveled through his beautiful and long hair. My process then transitioned to expressing on canvas with oil paints the mood experienced in the moment the subject was originally captured.

Looking back on this work in the season we are in today, I ponder over the challenges this man and most other black men face just to exist. How much thought has to go into confidently existing as one self while being nonthreatening at the same time. As a mom of black teenagers “the talk” occurs often. Navigating through the most simple task such as driving, walking through a neighborhood and shopping in our local grocery store are not to be taken lightly. I am aware things have changed since the civil rights movement in the 1960’s and yet there is so much more work that needs to be done to experience a true sense of equality.

30″ x 40″ | Oil on canvas

Daydreaming is a 30” X 40” oil painting on canvas of my daughter. I was immediately drawn to photograph her expression of deep thought as she gazed out a window. One can see the weightiness of her lean into her right shoulder. The golden early morning light casted beautiful shadows across the back of her body and the undersides of her legs. The juxtaposition of the cool blues to the warm golden tones created an environment of serenity and calmness.

One can’t help but be curious of what a child of such a young age could be thinking of with such depth and focus. At the time, her older brothers were also on the bed watching the television. She, on the other hand, had nothing to do with the television and everything to do with her thoughts. The hope is that the viewer is drawn into her expression an becomes curious of her thoughts.

Cool in Pink
16″ x 20″ | Oil on canvas
$575 unframed, $670 framed

“Cool in Pink” is a 16” X 20” oil on canvas painting. The painting was referenced from a candid shot of my eldest son. I was immediately drawn to the phases of emotions he experienced while testing out sunglasses while on a shopping trip. This particular image reflects the immediate since of confidence that rose up in him as he tried on this particular pair of glasses. This young man is now a senior in high school and is trying to make plans for his future. Like many of his peers they are attempting to transition to adulthood in a season of a global pandemic, the constant reminder of civil unrest and the uncertainty of what the next year will bring. The hope is to hold on to the truths of who they are, and the confidence of who they can achieve to be, and dream past the cloudiness of the times we are in.

16″ x 20″ | Oil on canvas
$575 unframed, $675 framed

“Josiah” is a 16” X 20” oil on canvas. In this work, the subject is fully consumed by the world that exists within the headphones and the screen of the device he is captivated by. The device is a source of entertainment and escape. One can see that in his expression there is no sense of worry, fear or anxiety but captivation, focus and contentment. The environment he physically exists in is completely void of distraction and barriers. As I reflect back to the age the child was I knew his ability to see his wonder, imagination and curiosity be realized would be challenged by the reality of his color. The greater challenge I had not fully understood was how close his ability to live and thrive would be determined by the color of his skin.

My goal in all my work is to create an environment that bridges a connection between the viewer and the subjects and my hope is the viewer will be drawn to acknowledge the humanity of the person captured on canvas. I have been given this small gift for a purpose and is thus compelled to use it and share with others. By doing so I am honoring the gift and the Giver.