Welcome to a new series here on Pender & Peony…Cocktails & Queries – where we chat with inspiring female leaders in business, design, art, and fashion! The idea is to have a casual cocktail with a lady I admire and think has some sage advice to offer us.
I will be sharing the full interviews here on the blog, but part of the conversation will air live over on my Instagram. Watch for those announcements on social.
I am so excited to welcome Allison Cosmos to P&P and introduce her to y’all! Allison is a savvy artist whose intricate and lush art works are in a word stunning. You are going to love them!
You might even recognize Allison’s work from…oh House Beautiful or Veranda or Elle Decor where she has been featured. Designers love her modern Chinoiserie style and vivid scenes with lustrous color. She has been commissioned to create works all over the country.
Allison is a fellow Carolina girl originally hailing from Greensboro, N.C. and she currently resides in Southern California with her hubby, two kids, and two dogs.
Don’t miss my IGTV chat with Allison on Tuesday 5/18/21 at 4:00PM EST. Let’s learn more about her and her work!
My Interview with Allison Cosmos:
Did you always want to be an artist? (Tell us about your epiphany moment or how you started your career)
Allison: I owe much of my creative journey to public school teachers who encouraged me throughout the years. I decided on Ringling College of Art and Design for my college education where I learned all the foundations of art and design. They offered a community job board or sorts for freelance work. I started getting commissions for painted furniture and murals and that’s how I got my start! I enjoyed it right away!
What is your process like for creating an artwork?
Usually I begin with an animal or bird I want to learn about, and this becomes my “star” of the piece.
Allison: Usually I begin with an animal or bird I want to learn about, and this becomes my “star” of the piece. I begin by creating a Pinterest board for a piece or a series and fill it with reference and inspiration. From there I start drawing!
I prefer working on tracing paper with pencil. Once I get the layout and composition just right, I paint a background color on a wood panel or canvas. Next, I transfer my drawing to the substrate with a transfer paper. I work in translucent layers of colors with acrylic paint mixed with matte medium.
From there I continue building layers as they dry. Finally, I start in with the tiny lines and details.
Your Chinoiserie panels are well known and many of my readers will recognize your tryptic from Summer Thornton’s interiors featured in House Beautiful. How do you create a modern interpretation of this classic style? Is there a particular work or design that influenced your exploration of Chinoiserie?
Allison: I absolutely love Chinoiserie, however, sometimes it’s a little dark and serious. I think my translucent washes of color give it a brighter, more cheerful appearance. My line making is sometimes looser than traditional Chinoiserie and generally my compositions tend to be more dense and lush as opposed to sparse. My grandfather traveled to Asia and brought back many treasures, and I’ve always appreciated them.
What do you collect and why do you treasure it?
Like jewelry for the home, lighting completes the look don’t you think? So many sconces and chandeliers, never enough rooms!
Allison: Lighting is kind of a strange thing to collect, but I LOVE light fixtures. Like jewelry for the home, lighting completes the look don’t you think? So many sconces and chandeliers, never enough rooms!
I find it impossible to resist drinking glassware too. Each friend or family member can select something they like and then everyone knows whose drink belongs to who! I recently picked up some fun glasses with bees on them!
For someone just starting to decorate their home and collect antiques, what’s your best piece of advice?
Allison: Go big or go home! Choose larger statement conversation pieces instead of 20 smaller items. I shop on Chairish and local antique stores. When collecting art, consider asking the artist to make something custom for that bare spot on your wall! Be sure to mix an abstract piece in with a Chinoiserie piece or a landscape.
What do you think about the grandmillennial movement and traditional design making a “come back”?
…we are all looking to appreciate handmade things over mass produced items that everyone has.
Allison: In my opinion, we are all looking to appreciate handmade things over mass produced items that everyone has. We want something unique and special or things we can admire that our great grandparents treasured. With the abundance of technology and plastics I think we are all hoping to capture that feeling of a slower lifestyle. Sipping lemonade and doing embroidery in the garden.
What is your go to cocktail?
Allison: I enjoy a Pimm’s cup, especially in summer with lots of fruit! I’ll never turn down a mojito though!
Favorite travel destination?
Allison: I prefer an extended weekend expedition to friend’s home. It’s more practical and enjoyable to spend time with those we love. I would like to plan a trip to Greece however!
What are your sources of daily inspiration?
My garden inspires me everyday — whether it’s an emerging seed we planted or a butterfly passing by!
Allison: My garden inspires me everyday — whether it’s an emerging seed we planted or a butterfly passing by! We love our feathered guests that frequent the bird feeder each day as well. I admit I have a total addiction to Pinterest for inspiration! I think I have a board for everything!
Some of my favorite periodicals include Veranda, House Beautiful, Elle Decor and Traditional Home.
What project are you most proud of?
Allison: I renovated our midcentury ranch almost entirely by myself. I figured out how to put in flooring, tile, remove a wall, put in doors, I built a custom closet, built a beautiful fence, and even tried to do the electrical. I probably won’t do it again but I am glad I tried it and I think it looks pretty good! I definitely appreciate a good tradesperson!
Where will we see you next? ( Tell us about upcoming projects)
Allison: I’m very excited to be producing some wallpaper/fabric designs. I also have some beautiful Chinoiserie works soon going up in all of the guest rooms of the Beau Rivage resort in Mississippi which is currently being renovated.
Follow Allison on Instagram @allisoncosmos
This or That:
Coffee or ✔️ Tea
Early Riser or ✔️ Night Owl
✔️ Biscuits or Scones
Lipstick or ✔️ Nail Polish
✔️ Chintz or Stripes
Oil or ✔️ Acrylic
Wallpaper or ✔️ Paint
✔️ Mountains or Beach
✔️ Flats or Heels
Whistler or ✔️ Matisse
Stay tuned for more details! I’ll be chatting with Allison on IGTV live next week plus you know we have to make Pimm’s Cups, since those are her favorites!