Allen was born and raised in Rhodesia(Zimbabwe) and started painting in oils at the age of 16. After high school, he completed a 3-year graphic design course course at college and worked in the print and graphic design industry until 1989 when he immigrated to South Africa.
For several years, Allen owned and operated printing and manufacturing businesses in South Africa before he began painting and exhibiting fulltime. At this time Allen began to document and paint African people in their rural environments. Allen immigrated for a third time in 2000- this time to Canada, eventually settling in Gatineau(Quebec).
Gradually Allen's work has changed but he has continued with his tradition of exploring the human figure and has chosen to paint himself and his children in a variety of guises and environments. Using an illustrative approach to his technique as well as using simple props and painting the figures in remote or unusual places, Allen gives his works a sense of mystery and emotion.
Allen is a self-taught painter and continues to paint from his studio in Gatineau.