Carly Allen-Martin is an artist out of Dallas, Texas. The message of her work is one of resiliency, optimism, authenticity, depth, and fearlessness. It is about overcoming the obstacles and walls we all face as human beings. She believes the world needs optimistic work, with which we interact with daily, that gently nudges us to live more boldly, more considerately, and more authentically as the individuals we were created to be. Allen-Martin studied at Santa Reparata International School of Art in Florence, Italy, The European Academy of Fine Arts in Trier, Germany, and Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo, Japan. She holds a BFA in painting from Texas Christian University. Allen-Martin is represented by Laura Rathe Fine Art Dallas, Laura Rathe Fine Art Houston, and Artspace111 Gallery. You can follow Carly on Instagram at @allenmartinstudios.
How do you know Hannah?
I met Hannah through our mutual friend Haylie in Los Angeles. Hannah was helping Haylie with her cookbook, and I was in town doing a photoshoot. I immediately knew Hannah was someone really special. Hannah is interested in everyone she meets and always greets you with her gracious smile.
What are your favorite pieces of art you’ve created?
I have a high standard for my finished product, so I love all of my work. With that being said, I have held on to a diptych in my living room for myself and my family to enjoy. It is called “Ode To Grace.”
What inspires you the most about what you do?
Being an artist is not an easy path. You have to be strong and yet vulnerable; an introvert to create, and an extrovert to promote your work. I really believe artists are critical to the well-being of our society, and it is a job I do very proudly. I am inspired by the boldness of taking time to make something beautiful in the midst of a sometimes uncertain and overwhelming world. For me, my work is a declaration that this life is truly beautiful and that more exists here than what is familiar to us.
What do you love the most about what you do?
I love being able to create work that enriches people’s homes and workspaces, and therefore their lives. I also love letting children know it doesn’t have to be a fairy tale that you can be a successful, working artist when you grow up.
When did you first know this was what you wanted to do?
I have had the desire to create as long as I can remember. I always identified as an artist. In college I really tried to become anything but an artist (out of fear that, as an artist, I wouldn’t be able to provide for myself), but once I realized all roads lead me back to the life of a creative, I decided to embrace it.
We know you are very busy, but what do you enjoy doing in your free time?
My favorite things to do in my free time are to travel with my husband and to spend time with our two small children.
What is a typical day like for you?
I start my day when my children get up which is about 7 a.m. We spend the early morning snuggled up on the sofa, easing into the day. By 9 a.m. my kids are off to school, and I am able to start working in my studio. My work requires layering, so I usually paint for about three hours to allow proper drying time for the next day. I then grab a bite for lunch and spend the early afternoon covering the business aspects of my work. After that, I play with my children at the park, or we may head over enjoy the Arboretum in Dallas. After the kids are asleep, I make it to art openings in the area or important community events. If there is not an event we want to attend, my husband and I love to relax and catch up on a show.
Which accomplishment in your life so far are you the most proud of and why?
At the end of the day what I cherish most is my family, and the hard work my husband and I have put in to create a loving environment for our children. As far as what I am most proud of, I am most proud of becoming a freethinking, strong female with the knowledge and confidence to know who I am and what I want to accomplish. I am most proud of that because I have a daughter and a son. I want to raise a son who values women and views them as his equivalent. I want to raise a daughter who has the courage to know her worth and refuses to play small or devalue herself. To me, if I can take on some of the challenging steps of progression in my life, then they may possibly have the advantage of picking up where I leave off.
How do you balance working and being a mom?
It is definitely a constant work in progress. What helps me stay balanced is to be really intentional about being present. I have learned to put my phone away and focus on my children when I am with them and to do the same for my work when I am in the studio.
What has motherhood taught you?
Motherhood is tough work. It is the hardest thing I have ever had to do and the most rewarding. The biggest two things it continues to teach me are the importance of staying gentle and patient and the importance of being an intentional adult. When you have little eyes observing you constantly, it forces you to reflect on the message you are putting out into the world and the manner in which you choose to deliver that message.
What have your children taught you?
My children have taught me to embrace how precious the smallest moments can be. They aren’t aware of the daily fears and stressors that can drain me of energy. They are just so genuinely excited to see a bug or an airplane or hear their favorite song. It makes me reflect on the beauty of simplicity and finding joy in the little details.
What do you love the most about being a mom?
I love having the opportunity and responsibility to constantly love two little precious people unconditionally.
What surprised you the most about becoming a mom?
Everything about being a mom has surprised me. It is completely different than any expectations that I had. Every stage and age continues to amaze me.
How has being a mom made you more compassionate toward women around the world?
I made the choice to have children with eyes wide open. Fortunately, I am blessed with good health, financial security, and a loving, supportive primary relationship. And even with all of those advantages, having children completely reshaped my life; my finances, my relationships, my work … everything. So I have the deepest empathy for women without even one of those advantages, who are still doing everything they can for their children. They are truly remarkable, and I hope as a society we can become more aware and learn to support and commend these women along the way. Not just for the good of their individual families, but for the good of our society as a whole.
Do you have a favorite book?
What is your favorite song?
“Ain’t Nobody’s Problem” by The Lumineers
Who is your favorite artist?
Willem de Kooning & Clyfford Still
What is your favorite place to travel to?
Where do you want to travel next?
What do you always travel with?
A boom tube music speaker
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Natural light and open landscape. The way the light shifts in the fall is magical.
Who in your life has inspired you?
Strong men and women who live bold lives and stand up for those who aren’t able to stand up for themselves.
Who were your idols and/or mentors when you were a child?
I rode horses and barrel raced as a child, and I remember meeting Martha Josey. Martha was a world-class barrel racer who was inducted into the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame. I remember wanting to be tough and bold just like her. She was a girl who knew how to take the reins in a male-dominated industry. I also had a love for Frida, who was able to embrace her suffering and turn it into art.
What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?
To take heart, stop apologizing, and trust your gut.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
That the best way to conquer fear and doubt is to simply get to work.
What does empowering women mean to you?
As a whole, I want to see women less worried about being likable and more concerned with being courageous. Women have come a long way in our society, but there is still a long way to go. It is going to take a lot of courage. The world needs more women who do not apologize for standing out and stepping up. We need to stand up for women who cannot stand up for themselves.
Who are the most important women in your life and why?
My mom has always been a free spirit who doesn’t put too much time and thought into what others think about her. My sister isn’t afraid to put her ideals out there and get involved locally and politically. And my adopted grandmother isn’t afraid to talk about faith, prayer, and loving people intentionally and loudly. I think each of their strengths have been really important and influential to me.
How did you get involved in women’s rights?
Maya Angelou said, “Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women.” I got involved unintentionally by starting with what I wanted for myself. Once I was paying attention, I was unable to ignore the gaps that remain in our country and the enormity of the gaps around the globe. The fact that we are still fighting for equal pay and the right to reproductive health care is really tragic to me.
What matters most to you when you shop?
Finding items that will give me fresh energy and bring me joy.
What does “fair trade” mean to you?
Fair trade to me means that the people and the environment responsible for creating and trading a product were treated with dignity and respect.
Do you have a favorite product that you want to tell us about?
I was recently introduced to Babies4Babies swaddle blankets, and I am amazed by their product. The designs are really clean and fresh, and their blankets are all organic with non-toxic inks. The sale of one Babies4Babies blanket will provide one medical kit with birth and newborn essentials to a Syrian refugee mother. How great is that?
Do you have a favorite women-led brands?
Little Moon Society is a new brand of children’s clothing about which I am really excited. Their clothing is made in Los Angeles by two talented women. My daughter loves their clothing, and I love that I am supporting a female-run business.
Which causes are you most passionate about and why?
I started working with Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center last fall. When I learned that 1 in 5 children will be abused by someone they know and trust, I had to get involved. DCAC is doing tough, amazing work to provide treatment, rehabilitation, education, prevention, and care in Dallas. Their staff is really incredible.
What is your favorite memory since getting involved in?
Touring their facility and seeing hands-on the difference they are making in children’s lives.
How can our readers get involved?
They have many ways to get involved from making a donation online, to hosting an event or lecture, or just volunteering your time. You can visit their website at www.dcac.org.
What is your favorite Instagram account?
Do you have a favorite blog?
(Cultural Exchange by) The Little Market!
Do you have a favorite quote?
“It is not enough to be nice in life. You’ve got to have nerve.” – Georgia O’Keeffe