Student artist finds his passion in abstraction


Griffin Allman, senior painting and art education double major, peels tape away from one of his canvases. Allman likes to use more abstract designs that way people can interpret it in their own personal ways.

Senior painting and art education major Griffin Allman’s eyes lit up as he described the potential shapes in the support beams, the stairs and the floor around him and how he could piece them together with line and color on a canvas to create something beautiful.

His ability to find shapes in everything around him and then put those images to canvas is something he has found solace in.

“(Allman) reduces things down to their most simplified form,” Shawn Powell, assistant professor of painting, said. “Utilizing shape, line, color, composition and scale to articulate space and to elicit emotions.”

Allman paints using shapes, colors and lines, or abstractionism. Abstractionism is a form of art that can be interpreted in many different ways by many different people. 

Where one may see a cityscape, another may see a neighborhood they recognize from their hometown; others may see nothing at all.

“I think using abstract painting is interesting,” Allman said. “You can articulate specific kinds of ideas in this almost generic form that initially you might think ‘OK, there’s not enough specific detail for me to understand what’s going on’ but there never really is one idea that I’m trying to communicate. It’s really about different perspectives.”

Allman has had an interest in art since he was a child. He was voted “Best Artist” in his kindergarten class. He enjoyed art in high school and was in advanced art classes, but often he did not take it seriously. 

“I just kind of did whatever I was told to do to make things work,” he said.

Allman attended his first semester of college at Ohio University in 2015 with a major in integrated media. He only stayed for one semester because he realized he did not like his major or the university. 

It wasn’t until then that Allman took a step back and thought about his interests. He then realized what he truly loved to do was paint.

“Art was just always something that stuck with me,” he said. “When I left OU, I just sat down one day and I was like, ‘OK, you like art, you like painting, so let’s start taking that seriously.’”

Allman transferred as a sophomore to Kent State during the fall of 2016 as a double major in art education and painting.

Since then, Allman has had the freedom and support to improve his style and craft.

Kent State painting professor Gianna Commito said with time Allman has become a more serious and confident artist.

“The biggest thing is that he has slowed down and started to take his craftsmanship more seriously,” she said. “Before I suspect he was looking at his work through the lens of social media. In real life, there were some inconsistencies with his subject matter and the techniques he was actually using to make those paintings. By becoming more confident with materials, he’s been able to have more control over the imagery in his work.”

In the future, Allman hopes to use the arts as an exciting way to teach kids.

“Even if you hate school, you can use art as that tool to get out of that world,” Allman said. “Art can be used as such an exciting tool for them to literally shape their own realities, especially for the future.”

Contact Sylvia Lorson at [email protected].