Being a creative person is not an easy job. Many artists don’t have the confidence, or support to continue with their art, and a lot of them quit at early stages of their development. I always find it fascinating when I see artists that overcome that hump of mistaken beliefs and go for it. Most of the time it has to do with exposure and being inspired by someone or something that you can’t ignore. It is no mellow road, we all have to start somewhere, and putting ourselves out there gives us vulnerability to be criticized as well as acclaimed. So be brave, and “Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart.” Don’t be afraid, know that you have a gorgeous and huge community of people that want to help. We were all helped once by someone, and like my professor used to say: You gotta give back. This is my way of giving back. Giving you exposure to others, and showing you that it can be done. Just stay connected with your heart, and persevere.
My featured artist, this time, is Ashton Shaw Despot. Ashton is a very inspiring impressionist painter based in New Orleans. Her paintings caught my eye while I was researching for home decor. Her work communicates in mysterious ways I have to say. They are bold, yet soft in a soothing way. They evoke nature, emotion, freshness, and a harmonic balance of color and weight. There is something nostalgic about them, actually more dreamlike. Her use of light is exquisite and her bold short strokes showcase her spirit and passion for what she does. Her work appeals to me in many ways, and I hope it does to you too. I knew I had to ask her for an interview once I discovered her work.
this is Ashton Shaw Despot From South Louisiana. Last child of three.
How did you know you wanted to be an artist Ashton?
I knew at a young age that I wanted to create something beautiful for the world. I have always been fascinated by the delicate beauty all around us. But it took some time and encouragement for me to explore art as a career. I was first challenged in high school by two amazing teachers. They put the bug in my ear to make it a career and the drive in my heart to live life passionately. In college I studied graphic design, but always took painting and sculpture classes as my electives. My painting and drawing teachers influenced me immensely and I am thankful for their critics and patience. But it wasn’t until I studied art in Ireland for a month that I knew I could make it as an artist. I created more than 30 pieces while I was there and I had gained excitement and joy like never before.
Ireland WOW! Im so jelly… So how does it work? Tell me a bit about your creative process. Walk me through it.
My creative process changes with each project and I try to let everything develop organically. In college my professors would always stress “trust the process” which meant you had to explore and develop your ideas. Skipping steps never made the work better in fact it was quite the opposite. I usually make binders with inspiration photos including colors and compositions. I use a plethora of photos and sketches to come up with the final composition. It can change drastically too depending on the day or the mood I am in.
Do you search for inspiration? Does it come to you?
I search for inspiration in a number of ways just as the meaning of the word “search” expresses. I gather photos from life, magazines, books, Pinterest, Instagram etc. Honestly, I’m kind of a hoarder of images! If I am organized enough, I take these photos and categorize them in folders. Then, when I am working on a project that might have the particular subject matter, I pull the file. I also have files on my computer and in Dropbox. It is actually quite an organized mess. It works for me though. Then, when I am working on the piece, I let it develop organically. I often turn the painting several times to ensure the piece is balanced. I use the drips of water to determine shapes, and I don’t worry about it looking exactly as I had pictured it in my head.
Your work is heavily inspired by pastel, and blue color schemes. Is that part of your aesthetic?
I love blues and greens. I think they are soothing and natural. I am most inspired by landscapes so it seems fitting to capture the colors of lush foliage, water and the sky above. I am also very intrigued by light and how it dances on the ground. I love pops of light pink and peach to express a warm glow. I hope my work feels dreamlike and warm, and I think soft colors work best in achieving this goal.
A lot of artists never put their work out there because they feel it isn’t finished. How do you know a piece is done?
Honestly, a piece is never done. But sometimes you are happy with what you achieved in that moment.
You seem to be a pretty positive person, is there a personal or professional motto you live by?
I live by the words of Confucius. “Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart.”
The artist road isn’t an easy one. Surely, there are some things you’ve learned along the way you can share with us?
The biggest lesson I have learned in life is that nothing can be planned. You will think you have it all figured out and something always surprises you. You must learn to be fluid like water and go with the flow of life. Enjoy everything you can, but also don’t be afraid to feel sadness and worry as they are just as real as any other feeling.
In moments of self doubt or adversity, how do you build yourself back up?
I turn to my friends and family. I have an amazing support system that builds me up constantly.
Is there someone, in particular, you look up to?
I look up to my dear friend Amanda Judice. She was good listener, extremely kind and accepting. She had strong roots in faith and family, and lived in the moment always looking for the good in every situation.
What advice would you give other creatives trying to make it as an artist?
Follow your heart and never stop exploring. Get Up, Show Up, and Do Good Work.
Thank you Ashton for your words, and we wish you the best pursuing this road. Inquiries about Ashton paintings can be made on her website: http://ashtonshawdespot.com