Visual artist D. Ashton recently contributed an incredible collection of drawings and paintings to our Gallery. PAC asked him what inspires his work. This is what he shared with us:
Having gotten certification in art teaching as well as majoring in art and art history, I have been lucky to have seen and studied all of the styles of art throughout history. When asked who my favorite artist is, I find it difficult to pin down one specific one. There are aspects of almost every style that I find interesting or appealing. But, I do lean towards artwork which has more realistic depictions of life rather than artwork which has abstract or expressionist works. That has a lot to do with my personality. If I have something to say, I like to be direct and obvious, rather than (like in abstract works) subtle, leaving people open to differing interpretations of what I’m trying to say. Having been a teacher and having dabbled in advertising art, I have learned how important it is to make the message clear and obvious.
As for the actual style of artwork, again, I prefer realistic depictions which (with a few exceptions) include any artwork produced between the mid-to-late Renaissance up to the impressionist period (and I’m talking paintings, mostly). I like works in which it is obvious that the artist has a lot of skill, training and talent. Ingres is one of my favorites as far as that goes, with his tightly controlled brush strokes and creative use of light and shadow.
Compositionally, I like artworks (and make my own artwork) with a lot of detail, a lot “going on” in them. I like a painting that, wherever you look, there’s something interesting to see. In this category, I actually do like one abstract artist: Kandinsky. It is said he often listened to jazz music while painting and titled many of his works with musical terminology (i.e. composition, improvisation, etc). You can see this in his works, with the arrangement of geometric forms creating a kind of movement throughout the entire compositions.
But, I think the one artist that encompasses all of these aspects (direct message, realistic style, good composition) is George Caleb Bingham, an American artist working mostly in the first half of the 19th century. A majority of his works (with a few exceptions) are narrative, a story, a “slice of life” regular people engaged in everyday activities. He brilliantly uses light and shadow realistically and arranges his compositions with a lot of little details throughout, which is what I like to do in my artwork.
All of the artists and styles mentioned influence my work. But, I think his stuff comes closest to the style I use in the “car” pictures. I just had a few rules. I wanted the cars to be the main focus, the width of them coming to within 1-1.5″ of either edge of the paper. I tried not to have anything covering up the cars much. If I did, I would put something in a big empty area, like a side door, and I never put anything covering up the details of the front. As with most of my artwork, I never let there be any big empty areas. Wherever the viewer looks in the picture, I want there to be something to see.
So, generally, in all of my artwork, I like a very realistic style with a clear message (no symbolism or hidden meanings) and a composition in which there are no big, open empty areas, something interesting to see in every area of the picture.
To see more of D. Ashton’s work, please visit our Gallery.