Gordon Allen was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1953. Following high school, he began study at The Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore but left after only one year, having found the avant garde approach to art promoted at the Maryland Institute, as well as most other art schools in the early 70`s, not to his liking. Through an outdoor writer friend of his family, the author Gene Hill, he was introduced to the field of sporting publishing in New York and at age twenty began to illustrate books for New York publishers, doing magazine illustration. He had grown up from age six hunting waterfowl on Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay with his family and in his early teens was introduced to fly fishing for trout in New York state’s Adirondack mountains and had a broad appreciation for and knowledge of the sporting world.
For several years he worked very hard at illustrating. Often the payment from publishers amounted to less than minimum wage for his work, but he was able to make ends meet by selling many of the original drawings. Some of the books illustrated include "Mostly Tailfeathers" by Gene Hill, 1975; "The Complete Wilderness Paddler" by James West Davidson and John Rugge, 1976; "Recollections of a Shooting Guest" by George Bird Evans,1978 ; "The Best of Sheep Hunting", edited by John Batten, 1980 ; "Fishing Dry Flies for Trout", Art Lee, 1982 ; "Making Hay" by Verlyn Klinkenborg, 1986 ;"Silver, The Life Story of an Atlantic Salmon", Roderick L. Haig-Brown, 1989 ; "The Georgia-Florida Field Trial Club, 1984 to 1999" edited by Rosamond Chubb Davis, 1999 ; "The History and Highlights of the Spruce Creek Rod and Gun Club, 1904 to 2003" by Knade, Bonya and Miller, 2004.
Creating etchings was a way out of illustrating, and in the late 70`s he began learning that medium by trial and error, mostly error. His idea was that he could essentially do one drawing, one composition, and have 100 prints or more that were themselves originals to sell. He eventually built a body of work and found a dozen galleries around the country receptive to his work, thus starting a small business and freeing himself up so that he didn’t have to illustrate, could pick and choose his illustration jobs, and also have time to begin painting, again learning by trial and error. For years he worked at painting en plein air, painting primarily in summer’s months in the Atlantic Provinces of Canada and in winter painting the marshes and watermen’s communities of the Chesapeake Bay’s Eastern Shore as well as the streets of a working-class community in Baltimore called Hampden. Allen now lives in Savannah, GA in a home that was built in 1900. He has done much work on the house and it’s grounds himself over the past several years. It has been his magnum opus, and the work is now largely done. His studio comprises 1500 square feet on the second floor, and here he has rededicated himself to etching and begun doing larger studio paintings.