Cecel Allee: Banking on Change

Text by Linda Wright / Photography by John O’Hagan

Working with numbers was Cecel Allee’s job until an unexpected turn of events. Now she works with brushes and paints, and her art-loving fans can’t get enough.

A dozen years ago, Cecel enjoyed working in the banking industry. But when her vocal cords were damaged during a surgery, she was unable to talk for almost two years. Difficult for anyone, but as a wife and mother of a 2-year-old, life for Cecel was a challenge. In search of finding something to replace her job, she picked up a paintbrush, and as the saying goes, the rest was history.

“To save money when I began painting, I was building boxes from lightweight wood rather than buying canvases,” Cecel explains. “And my paints were actually house paints that I mixed to create my own color palette.”

Ten years later, still building boxes and creating unique colors, Cecel’s paintings are mostly large format and bursting with color. For the last few years, she has been selling her work once a month at the Scott Antique Market in Atlanta, Georgia. In the morning, she fills her van with paintings and returns home with an empty van in the evening. Some of her most frequent buyers are decorators who have discovered that Cecel’s art complements many of their clients’ homes.

She recently opened a gallery, named C. Allee, in Watkinsville, Georgia. Visitors can wander among her paintings and works of other artists that she loves. The high ceilings, mellow wooden floors, and bits of bricks peeking through the painted walls work together to create an inviting ambience for art lovers and collectors alike. 

“Someone once told me that I was channeling my inner child in my paintings,” Cecel says. “I wasn’t sure whether to take that as a compliment or and insult, but then I ran across this quote from Pablo Picasso shortly after: ‘Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist when we grow up.’”

For more information about Cecel’s art, e-mail her at cecelallee@gmail.com.