‘The sky is the limit’ – artist Christine Allison’s cloudscapes lift the spirits

‘Sometimes it’s just ridiculous’ Painting by Christine Allison

If the rain, the dark evenings and the (even darker) news are getting you down, you need an art fix – an encounter with creative energy and a feast of colour, art you can gaze at until you forget everything but the image in front of you. Distraction. Absorbtion. Escape.

Well-known Lyme Regis artist Christine Allison is exhibiting a new body of work at the Sou’-Sou’-West Contemporary Arts Gallery just outside Bridport, and it’s a real humdinger of a show. Clouds scud, skim and billow; they menace, dance and glow, and all in a palette of colours that will surprise and delight you.

You can browse through the books packed with the dawn to dusk sketches Christine makes from her studio overlooking Lyme Bay and which inform the paintings on display. These preparatory works (very covetable, too!) help to explain why, despite the use of a seemingly-improbable but delicious colour or the scratched vigour of the marks she carves with her palette knife, you just know that you are looking at skies which are observed and known, intimately and passionately.

Christine Allison in her studio. Photo by the author

As Christine says in her artist’s statement:

In my latest work I have returned to a favourite theme – the sky. Back in 2005 I was making oil paintings of Lyme Bay with the sunrise and Portland on the horizon, I was fascinated by the ever-changing colours and moods of the sky. A sketchbook from that time has ‘don’t let the dawn start without me’ scrawled on the first page, if I missed the dawn I had missed an opportunity.

My studio and home overlook the sea, I swim into the rising sun each morning, the sky dominates my days. Quietly it has crept back under my skin and into my work. Lockdowns have kept me at home, no travelling to the Middle East with my big bird paintings, no life models to paint and draw – but the sky has been there for me every day, like a faithful friend – waiting for me to realise it was still my subject.

Now I am obsessed. I work in my sketchbooks daily. I paint from my sketches. I can’t always trust myself to paint directly from the sky, I do but I have to watch myself that I don’t become too literal. It is as if I need to process what I’m looking at through my sketchbook, and then catch and create the energy and the mood of a that day in a final painting.

I work in oil paint, I love the visceral feel of paint on the surface and the smell. Many of these new pieces are working on Bockingford Watercolour paper. I love to use oil paint on paper. There is a freedom in tearing off a big piece of paper from a roll, stapling it to the wall, layering it with gesso and then going for it with paint, brushes and palette knives.

This new work is often abstracted, gestural, energetic – frenetic even. The sky gives me every opportunity to be expressive. The darker and more moody the better.

You have until 7 November to catch this gorgeous show at the Sou’-Sou’-West Contemporary Arts Gallery on the Symondsbury Estate outside Bridport, Dorset, DT6 6HG, 10:30 to 16:30, daily. You can even take a class with Christine and unlock your inner artist!

Sketchbooks and Christine’s book on display in the gallery. Photo by the author


Workshops with artist Christine Allison during her exhibition ‘The Sky Is The Limit’ at the Sou’ Sou’ West Gallery on the Symondsbury Estate.

Wednesday 3 November

Friday 5 November

10:30 – 13:30

Maximum 6 places on each workshop (only one workshop per person). Adults only.

£30 per place.

Please book through Sou’-Sou’-West Gallery on 01308 301 326.


“My sketchbooks are an important part of my creative process, they are my aids, my teacher,  my reference books, my tools.”

In these workshops, which are suitable for both emerging and established artists, Christine aims to encourage and develop your creative use of a sketchbook to inform and enrich your final work.  

Bring a sketchbook, a selection of dry materials to make marks and colour with, these can be water-soluble but no paint please in the gallery. Christine will also bring media to share and experiment with.

Tea, coffee and biscuits will be provided.