I have been painting landscapes in oil since November, 2006, when I took a class by Tom Anderson at Art by U in San Ramon, California. Tom was a student of Bill Alexander—who also taught Bob Ross. You may recognize Bob’s name because he taught half-hour sessions on PBS. Perhaps you remember his “happy little trees,” and “there are no mistakes, just happy accidents."
In 2009 I returned to the Southwest metro area of Minneapolis and began taking classes at the Minnetonka Center for the Arts with many fine instructors, including Holly Stone, Richard Krogstad, David Erickson, Andrea Altman, Michele Combs, and Dorothy Odland. Here my personal style began to develop, and I was open to trying different techniques and styles of painting.
January 2011 found me with my own studio/gallery space and a stronger commitment to pursuing my art in a more professional manner. In May, I had my first Gallery Showing and sold my first painting. What a wonderful feeling when someone wants to hang your work in their home. Also in May, my husband purchased a pochade box so that I could paint outdoors. Finding it difficult to learn the correct technique in "plein air" painting, I decided to take a workshop from Richard Abraham. Richard opened me up to a new way of painting, and I found I wanted to spend more time painting outdoors than in the studio.
I decided to sign up for the Grand Marais Plein Air Competition held in late August and early September of 2011. While there I took two classes, one from Brian Stewart, and the other from Mary Pettis, both outstanding artists. In my class with Mary, I was able to "see" the shapes in trees and start to paint with a "painterly" eye. My paintings hung at the Johnson Heritage Center with over 30 other painters work for a month. I have fallen in love with the Plein Air technique because it brings me into nature and I am able to do two of my favorite things, discover the beauty of the natural world and then paint it to help me remember that moment in time.
Mary Pettis invited me to attend her Master Painting Classes and I was able to learn many valuable lessons from her and other artists from her class, including Sandi Pillsbury. Winter 2012 found me back up north painting during the Grand Marais Winter Plein Air Event. What fun to paint outdoors with others who love to paint too. This time offered me an opportunity to paint, and meet other artists.
In early spring, a local Chiropractor purchased “Sunset on the North Shore.” In late spring of 2012 I began taking Atilier classes from Mike Coyle in Excelsior, Minnesota. Mike was helpful in taking me back to the basics—drawing what you see in an accurate manner. A valuable lesson and one I continue to strive to learn. In May I sold “Maiden Rock,” a 24x36 original, and in June, “Ft. Snelling Pathway” was accepted into a Juried Show at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum and sold! I also had the opportunity to paint in the Slate Islands for 3 days in Ontario, Canada in July.
In October 2012, my husband and I returned to California. We now live in the Irvine area, and I am currently taking additional classes with the Saddleback Emaritus Program, including, watercolor and pastel. I am enjoying learning new techniques and mediums. In addition I have begun a Color-Theory class with artist Philip Journeay, a gifted artist who is kind to take me under his wing. Along with these classes, I am a member of the Southern California Plein Air Painters Association (SOCALPAPA), as well as the Laugna Plein Air Painters Association and paint out often with the SOCALPAPA.
Whenever I am painting, I know I am doing what I am meant to do because time flies by. Some of you may know this a Kairos time. Kairos is an ancient Greek word signifying a moment of indeterminate time in which something special occurs. For me a good day at the easel is when I look up from a painting I’ve been working on and I have lost all sense of chronological time.
My current goals include continuing to develop my personal style and developing my skills by continuing my art classes, and getting outside to paint, paint, paint. I also intend to continue entering my work in some local shows, and develop personal relationships with other artists. Long term goals include selling my work to anyone who loves it, having my paintings available at a gallery in the area, and maybe one day to have my own Ash Art store front.
If you would like to follow my progress, you can find me at Facebook.com/ConnieAshArt. In addition, you can e-mail me at Ash_Art.com.