You can't look at Drew Allen's acrylic-on-bass named
`Loud Mouth` without cracking a smile.
Allen definitely put some fun, character and color into
taxidermy when he made fish his canvas.
Yes, Allen paints on actual taxidermy fish, and the good
news for Allen is that he says he is seeing a demand for
these unique specimens of art.
His 11-inch `Pinky,` an acrylic-on-perch, has sold along
with the 10-inch `Happy,` an acrylic-on-crappie, and many
others. `God has blessed me,` he said. `All of a sudden
everything is selling like crazy.`
Allen has been successful marketing his art, which is
being sold at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in
Kansas City as well as galleries in Arkansas, Colorado and
`A lot of people might think it's kind of outdated to
have a taxidermy fish on the wall, and so a lot of people
are getting rid of them. Yet this is a work of art that
even someone who hates taxidermy will want to hang,` Allen
Still the question begs. What made him want to paint on
fish? `Everybody asks that and the only answer I have
is God,` he said. `Just one day I thought, hum, I think I
would like to paint a fish.` He's also painted salmon,
pike, shark and a 9-foot swordfish, his biggest to date.
Allen says that, believe it nor not, even in fish painting,
he has changed his styles a bit over the years which has
improved his art.
Allen preps the surface of the fish by sanding, then
begins by applying the coats of paint. He paints the entire
fish, inside their mouth and even their eyes. Every fish is
different in color and style. Crappie brothers `Billy
Bob` and `Joe Bob` feature zebra and giraffe prints,
respectively. An acrylic-on-trout features squiggle designs
because it is swimming upstream. `Secret Love,` an
acrylic-on- bass, has two hidden hearts. `Daisy,` an
acrylic-on-pike, is dressed in floral.
When the fish have big teeth, Allen downplays their
ferocity. Allen painted a shark's teeth white with one gold
tooth. A piranha that looked incredibly mean became a
kinder and gentler piranha with pink and purple polka
dots, white teeth plus a little gold tooth. His name?
Allen's medium being what it is, he's always in the
market for taxidermy fish to paint.
`I run want ads just saying, 'Wanted: Dead Fish,'` he
said. `Of course, sometimes I get calls from people who are
just going, 'What? What do you want?'`
But Allen is in to more than just fish. He also has a
series of acrylic paintings on canvas featuring landscapes
that illustrate his love of nature and color. They seem to
capture a sense of 19th-century impressionism with
`I really enjoy these, and it's funny because looking at
these you'd think that it was the easiest thing to do, but
really these take more inspiration than any of the rest,`
His wife Kathryn, who has found her niche in abstract
painting, calls him a modern day Monet. Allen, who says he
has trouble with `drabness,` would just as well prefer to
be living in the scenes he paints.
`I am a nature freak,` he said. `Living right here on
the corner of the city is driving me crazy.`
Allen finds himself at a good time in his life. It
wasn't too many years ago, he said, that he was spending
his time stealing and selling drugs. But all has that has
`I gave my life to God seven years ago and it was like
instantly I had this talent that I never knew I had,` Allen
Traveling around the world as a college student to
Australia, New Zealand and Fiji was the catalyst for change
in Allen's life. `I came into contact with several
types of cults, a hippie cult, biker cult, some new-agey
weird stuff, and finally I realized that I needed Jesus,`
he said. `The word says commit yourself, commit your works
unto the Lord and he will give you the desires of your
heart.` Taking that notion to heart, Allen, in addition
to discovering his talent in art, became a self-starter in
home renovation. After he renovated his first home and
leased it out, he began doing the same thing with more and
`Now we're just buying and fixing them up and selling
them,` he said.
Through this work, Allen became the owner of Drew
Properties, a real estate investment company, and is the
co-owner of Allen Contracting and Millennium Construction.
Allen, 26, says that people are surprised when they
realize his age.
`I'll be at a firm and they meet me and they're kind of
like, 'Where's your dad?'` he said.
Allen also appears in commercials for businesses like
Taco Mayo and Mazzio's.
`And I give every single bit of the credit to God. He's
doing it. He's raising me up,` Allen said.
But Allen says that his long-range goal for the future
is to establish youth ranches around the world. Art is at
least one of the means in which he hopes to fund them.
In the near future, Allen says he hopes to be moving to
Costa Rica later this year to start a youth ranch.
Allen hosted the Tulsa Art Show in April, which
benefited Youth-Reach, a boys home for at-risk kids in
For those interested in Allen's art work, call 745-9555