By Eric Heinz
Swirls of blue and light purple make up Helen Keller’s hair, a design technique that artist Allison Moore used to portray an icon of American history.
It’s just one interpretation of ah. Each painting of a famous woman—and Moore has made about 20 paintings of various women—is a connection to the San Clemente-based artist, who started creating them at the beginning of the year.
“It started as a personal thing,” Moore said. “I was widowed last year after a very long period of caregiving and trying to keep my husband alive.”
Moore’s husband was in a motor vehicle accident in San Clemente in May 2014 and suffered a traumatic brain injury. He died in August, but while he was in recovery, Moore started a blog where she would discuss her husband’s condition and any updates.
She would later go on to start www.groundbreakinggirls.com, where she writes and reflects on her muses of power and hope.
“I came into the beginning of the year thinking that I had to make a life for myself and not thinking about the past,” she said. “I’m 46, and this is probably like the middle of my life, and I was really thinking about how I could be inspired instead of thinking negatively. I feel sort of mentored by them in this new period of change. They overcame so much in very difficult situations, and I just find that inspiring.”
Moore started painting women who had significant roles in history. Some of her paintings include renderings of Eleanor Roosevelt, Carrie Fisher and Harriet Tubman. Each of the paintings has Moore’s unique take on the subject.
“I spent time listening to podcasts, and I found them such a source of strength for me,” Moore said. “I really wanted to find that source of motivation not just for me but for my daughter, who is only six, but who has been growing up without a father.”
The paintings are done with water-based acrylics, Moore said, adding she started with oil painting but wanted the paintings to dry faster.
Currently, Moore has a display at the Mission Viejo Library and she hopes to contact other locations to set up her work.
Moore said she enjoys painting portraits and people most of all.
“It’s been really interesting,” Moore said. “I think the subjects I paint just sort of come to me, but I’ll do some research or someone will send me a picture. It almost feels to me as if… I can give them a voice and share these stories in a meaningful way.”
Moore said she’s also received calls from friends who are aware of her paintings suggesting she paint unsung heroes who are working to better the world. One such person is working in Colombia at an orphanage, and Moore said she hopes to paint her when she returns to the United States.
On her podcast, Moore talks to historians and locals who know history. That podcast is available on her blog website.