In her day job, Allison Hutchins encourages school-aged kids to smile big for the camera.

In her free time, Hutchins, 38, uses her camera to create dreamscapes, finding inspiration in the works of Edgar Allan Poe and Lewis Carroll.

“What I enjoy is that it’s not so cookie-cutter, not so cut and dried,” Hutchins said.

Hutchins, of Lewisville, is the featured artist for the Downtown Arts District Association for March. Her work will be at the March 2 First Friday Gallery Hop at DADA’s office, 604-A Trade St.

Hutchins had always enjoyed painting and picked up a camera four years ago.

“The more I got into looking at photography, the more I loved it,” she said.

Hutchins, the mother of two boys, started with landscape photography then began experimenting with digital art a few years ago. She uses stock photos or her own photos to create dreamy, vivid scenes. For the March Gallery Hop, she focused on the theme of Alice in Wonderland, resulting in bright, fantastical scenes.

Q: How would you describe your art?

Answer: My art would range anywhere from abstract to surrealism to conceptual. Lately, I have leaned more toward surreal to conceptual due to work and time constraints.

Q: How have you evolved as an artist?

Answer: I have stopped letting society dictate what “art” is and started to create what I want to create. There are many artists and critics who do not consider digital artwork as true art because it does not involve traditional mediums. Living in the digital age, it is only a new and modern way to create.

Q: Who has influenced your art?

Answer: I have classic favorites like Picasso, Rembrandt and Klimt, but modern artists and photographers like Arthur Brouthers, Bruce Riley, Nikolina Petolas and Lee Howell have had a major impact on me as well.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

Answer: Currently my biggest challenge is finding time. I travel frequently due to my job, so I like the fact I can create digital pieces when I am away from home.

Q: What does art do for you?

Answer: Art helps me clear my mind and bring a little sanity back into my chaotic life. To bring ideas and inspirations into a finished piece is the most fulfilling feeling. It’s a piece of my soul.

Q: Any advice for other artists?

Answer: Never be afraid to think outside of the box. Just because you can’t draw or paint a certain way doesn’t mean you aren’t an “artist.” Art is creating. Every time you create and you create what makes you happy, you are creating art.

Lisa O’Donnell writes about artists — visual, musical, literary and more — weekly in relish. Send your story ideas to lodonnell@wsjournal.com or call 336-727-7420.

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