North Vancouver author and artist Jenn Ashton is no stranger to creativity. Coming from an artistic family she has lived her life bringing creative flair to all her projects large and small. From the non-profit Boardroom and the challenges of being a young parent, to producing music and enjoying scholarly pursuits, Jenn Ashton is known for her originality, resourcefulness and vision.
Carrie: Welcome Jenn, how would you describe the art you create?
Hi Carrie! Thanks so much for having me! Well, I would have to describe my paintings as the epitome of ‘whimsical’. Any that art I make has that quality, it’s never perfect; my seams aren’t straight but it works and it’s a part of my voice.
Carrie: When did you first realize the arts were an important part of your life?
I knew I was a writer when I was very young. Growing up in the 70s too, art was an important part of our world and how people expressed themselves. I have always had a very creative thought process, so I don’t know if I ever ‘realized’ it formally, it has always just been there.
Carrie: How did you discover your artistic style?
In terms of my recent painting revelation, it came about after I took a 6 week e-course last year to learn how to paint by Tracy Verdugo. Here I discovered ‘intuitive’ painting. This really suited me because I feel and work hard at being very mindful in everything I do; it really clicked with me and then that’s when the painting ‘eruption’ occurred.
Carrie: What does your workspace look like?
Well, my workspace is our dining room, though I have set up a place outside for the summer as well. I began on the dining room table, but now I have had to put screws in the wall to accommodate large canvases.
The dining room table is covered in paint bottles, there is a canvas drop cloth that covers the wall and the floor, and most of the books have been removed from the bookshelf so I have a place for more paint and supplies. I also have a desk in the living room that faces outside, I go there for finer work or when I need better light. It’s generally messy, but because it’s also our home, it’s a happy, well organized mess.
Carrie: When you have multiple creative interests, how do you decide when and where to focus your creative energies?
Ha! Good question. An easy answer to that is that the way I process and do everything is creative, it’s just a case of priority. I’m really good at prioritizing so I just do what needs doing first and go on from there. If I have spare time (rare!) I’ll just work on whatever is calling me: music, painting, writing, programming, study, sewing, baking, woodwork or something new. I will follow whatever sparks me in the moment.
Carrie: What would you say to people who have also had inspiration from dreams or some kind of subconscious source?
First of all I’d give them a high-five because I think it’s rare, then I’d encourage them to follow whatever they feel or see and ask if I could help out in any way! It’s really the best feeling there is, the drive to be there doing this thing, as often as you can.
Carrie: How does your life experience and emotional state feed into your art?
Funny enough if I am feeling emotional or not clear, I can’t paint. It doesn’t come through. I pretty much have to have an empty mind. I think it is because of my life experience that I am where I am now, and through meditation and yoga I can get that pathway really clear.
Carrie: What is one piece of advice you have for struggling creatives?
Don’t struggle! Don’t judge, just do and accept whatever comes out. The point is to just keep doing it and find the joy in the doing, more than in the result.
Carrie: What is one creative resource you can’t live without?
The Internet. I can’t say a specific site, there are just so many and they are always changing. I like to look at MOMA and see what’s on.
Carrie: Who/what inspires you?
Just about every artist I see or writer I read inspires me. Also a good sleep, that can be very inspiring… and nature, always.
Carrie: How do you define Creativity?
To me creativity is just another means of communication. Everybody has it, some people just don’t use it, or haven’t found a way or a need to use it.
Be Creatively Courageous: What classes have you taken to help you discover your creative voice? I want to know! Let’s talk in the comments below.
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