Alison Templeton, a humble and persistent Susanville native, says she still doesn’t know what she wants to be when she grows up. However she sure does have a knack for bringing a blank wall to life.
Whether you’ve actively looked as you’ve driven through town or if you have kids who go to school at McKinley School, Diamond View, Lassen High School, you most certainly have seen Templeton’s work.
Students at LHS have been back in session for several months now, and if you drive past the school you may have noticed a brand new mural. What you’ll see is two bear paw prints on either side of the words, “We Are Lassen.”
The words encompass not just the name of a successful student organization at LHS, but also a motto of affirmation — a declaration of existence and perseverance.
What better way to memorialize the phrase than to have Templeton, a former LHS ceramics teacher and alumnus, to paint the very words for residents to see?
However, Templeton wasn’t always encouraged to take the path of an artist. In fact when she was in high school her art teacher told her she would never be an artist — a tough thing for anyone interested in pursuing their passion to hear.
It completely crushed her teenage spirit.
She uses the tale not to feel sorry for herself, but to show that no matter what anyone tells you (let alone a respected mentor in the trade of your interest), don’t listen to them. Do it anyway.
Doing exactly that, Templeton went on to receive her bachelor’s degree from Chico State University, majoring in both art education and art studio with an emphasis in sculpture and glass, a minor in art history and a minor in theater arts, preferring the stagecraft to performing.
Templeton, who was wearing a Zelda t-shirt underneath her matching green flannel, told the newspaper that during her time at CSU she delved herself into almost every art form she could get onto her schedule.
Templeton said she first started painting on bigger canvasses “way, way, way, way back” painting stage backdrops for the Miss Lassen County pageant. The backdrops were roughly 7 feet tall by 15 feet wide.
A good portion of her murals are indoors, as opposed to the murals you see throughout Uptown Susanville. The first mural she did in Susanville is still at the Elks Lodge in honor of Blue Star Moms.
She also painted the mural in the bottom portion of the Veterans Memorial Hall, where on Nov. 11, the local Veterans of Foreign Wars will host its celebration in honor of veterans. The organization also hosts its Saturday Breakfasts in the same location.
She’s crafted three separate pieces at Diamond View. A few years ago she created the panther piece on the floor of the gymnasium, the panther on the wall of the cafeteria and another.
She is also finishing the murals at Diamond View’s basketball court.
All of her work contains a rich quality that varies between a more true-to-life look while others have more vibrant and eye-catching colors.
One of the projects she has in-progress is what she’s calling “Space Whales” along the inside curve of Roop Street. You’ll have to (carefully) drive by the mural-in-progress for yourself.
Templeton can only really work on the weekends. In addition to being a resident artist, she’s also a land surveyor where she performs topography surveys — as she has been doing so since she graduated high school. It also apparently runs in her family, because family members on both sides of her family have done the same.
Templeton not only loves to paint, she loves graphic arts, print-making, screen-printing, glass blowing, welding, sculpture and many other art forms — just don’t ask her to draw or talk about herself for too long. Another thing she’s itching to get into (believe it or not) is blacksmithing.
She makes numerous things available for sale such as wands, and does the special effects makeup for LHS’s Every 15 Minutes, in addition to numerous plays and musicals at CSU, Chico.
If residents are interested in contacting Templeton for art projects, or if you are a business looking to paint your windows for the holidays, you can reach her at [email protected]