Ali Futrell: Larger Than Life
Granite Bay native Ali Futrell graduated with a degree in painting and a minor in design and technology from San Francisco Art Institute. Now back in Placer County, she continues to produce vibrant, large-scale, mixed media paintings in her Midtown Sacramento art studio, as well as murals for various public projects, including Hemlock Alley in San Francisco, Climb Real Estate in Walnut Creek, and an installation for Music Tastes Good, a festival in Long Beach. Futrell is also the creative event coordinator at the Arts Council of Placer County, the owner of a henna body art business, and has started providing mobile paint parties and events to teach all ages. “I love being able to continuously involve multiple mediums in my practice,” shares Futrell. “There’s never a dull moment!”
HLB: Describe some of your more recent works and their meaning.
AF: My last series—themed around ideas of beauty, gender, and the inner ego—were rooted from my experience attending San Francisco Art Institute. [It was there when] I first started searching for a concept in a city I was unfamiliar with, finding that I could expand on something I was most familiar with—my own body. I was able to create a 10-piece, large-scale oil painting series that had a relative foundation. The content involved complex compositions and narratives by using life-sized figures, party props, performance, and dramatic color—the latter of which I used to enhance the story and seduce the viewer through rich pigments and saturated hues. Themes of beauty, gender, and the inner ego are included through these performative female figures and celebrate confidence, self-acceptance, and glamour, provoking stereotypes around female identity.
HLB: What have been some of your biggest influences?
AF: My grandfather, Larry Welden, who was a watercolor artist and well-loved art teacher at Sacramento City College. He gave me my first art lessons as a toddler and although he has passed, to this day I try to channel his energy and talents, as he is a huge part of my artistic motivation.
HLB: Are there any challenges in creating large-scale works?
AF: My professors encouraged me to create large work—feeling my ideas and images should be brought to life through a life-sized approach. After attempting this method for the first time, I fell in love with the scale. Everything about it felt right—the size of the brushes, the brushstroke gestures, and the lack of attention to small details. The two downsides I’ve found, so far, are the higher cost and the transportation, which becomes quite difficult; other than that, I love the challenges.
HLB: Why is art so vital in today’s world?
AF: Not only is it an outlet for humans to express their emotions, feelings, and opinions, but it can also be used as a tool to share meaningful messages, educate about cultures, and draw attention to the beauty in our world. I think that with creativity and resourcefulness, like-minded artists can achieve great things. alifutrell.com
By Heather L. Becker