Drew Allen, Tulsa, Oklahoma, Abstract Visual Artist.

Fish of a different color


from here

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`A lot of people might think it's kind of outdated to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?

`Tough Guy.`

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

contemporary eyes.

`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,`

he said.

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

more homes.

`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

or 230-8869.