Monday, December 30, 2013

Finding Inspiration In The Abstract

My mother recently said to me, after explaining to her how I found inspiration in my wife's hair, that was what made me an artist. The fact that I could look at hair and see what it is I might like to draw. A while back I found myself, as I do often, looking at some maps. I was in a friends classroom, they are a middle school geography teacher, pulling down all the various maps she has hanging up to teach with. They are the cool, multi layered kind, with many options to look at. It was shortly after that I began dreaming up the abstract art you see here, and not long into that process that I realized I was interpreting a lifetimes worth of just simply loving to look at maps.

And why wouldn't I like looking at them. There is such innate beauty to be seen. Whether that be the natural forms of land masses that have evolved over the eons, or the strange delineations of countries, and counties, that we humans have imposed on our land. Either way the shapes are wonderfully attractive to me. For example I believe I could stare for hours at what map illustrators do to depict the fjords of Norway. Some of the renderings I have seen look so strikingly similar to the carved rock that they really are that it is almost as breathtaking as being there. As I said almost. Or perhaps it is the realization that
modern Jordan is shaped like a gun. If you don't believe me please have a look for yourself. And this man made boundary, seen only on a map, was created solely to amuse Sir Winston Churchill. Yet another of his more brilliant and prescient moves. Needless to say I find endless
inspiration in looking at maps.

In addition to that I had to insert my own style upon these abstract responses to such a ubiquitous educational and reference tool. So you will also see design work that creeps up in many of my other works. Things like circle shapes and layered rectangles. Shapes that are highly irregular in nature but do contrast nicely with the organic. I have my own ideas that came to light recently for why I do this as well. I believe it goes back to my first round of college a full twenty years ago and one of the art history courses I took. However, I am not certain about that and need to ponder this path of inquiry a little further.

As an artist I am continually amazed at where inspiration comes from. I find it particularly interesting when it emerges form areas you least except, or never anticipated. Often my process starts with an idea. Something I want to make art about. It is always rewarding when the reverse of that occurs.

As always I welcome any and all feedback so please do get in touch.

I hope you enjoy the art and thoughts,


Thursday, December 26, 2013

In The End It Is Not That Tricky

I admit I fall prey to this just as much as anyone else. However, it all made complete sense to me one day while listening to a physics lecture from Columbia University on complex biological machines. In truth this epiphany did not hit me right away, it came a little later while I was listening to a friend describe her crazy new diet. This diet had almost nothing to do with real food. And that was the moment it dawned on me. We are complex biological machines that must consume complex biological machines to live and the closer our food was to the source of that life the healthier we would be.

This is so simple it makes our complex nutritional world seem absurd. Certainly the masters of the food
industry do not want us to think this way as it would jeopardize their control on peddling us food that makes certain health claims or sells a specific nutrient. Rather you see food is not about its constituent parts but what those parts are assembled in say kale, or pork, or a pepper. In short I realized that whole food is all we have to eat for it's life force, it's complex biological machinery, is what nurtures us and keeps us healthy. I believe that to be healthy we simply need to exercise, sleep and moderately eat food in its pure form. That which it grew into. Whether that be out of the ground or after being born. Again simply eat real food.

Now I know it is a bit more complex then that and within those boundaries we also need to make considerations. For example meat is not bad for you, but plants might be more important to eat. Also it is a
fact that eating less of everything is a good idea. However, eating less processed food is not as good as eating none at all. That's because the processing moves the food far away from what it truly is, a complex biological machine.

Amazing isn't it...if you think about it. The idea that a complex biological machine must consume complex biological machines to live is simple. It is far less complex then deciding what diet, paleo, south beach, atkins that you should eat, or what cleanse you should do, or what nutrient is best to eat up. No instead eat a variety of the good stuff our planet has given us. After all we are part of the system and eating from that system is what we are meant to do.

I hope you enjoy the art and the thoughts.

Thanks, Doug.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Peace Of Mind Is Found In Many Way

Pen & Ink Fine Art By Doug Ashby
The smell of the ginkgo leaves were nearly as intoxicating as was the sight of the setting suns. Just the idea of that notion is fantastic, for in short order we have made this foreign place, this desolate world, a replica of one that once lived. That world is nearly forgotten now and those who truly never knew it are awe struck buy how rapidly this world is changing. Will we do the same here that we did before. Will the technology that is about to be released on all of humanity simply give us an attitude of do with this life as we please. Or will a new sense of respect come. And if we truly can make any world we see for us, how far might humanity go.

Everyday I feel more confident that there is less threat from those who would use our technology, my creation, for harm. What is the point when we can just move on and create a new life......a new reality. What would we have left to fight for. For now anyway this threat seems to be slipping away as our attention is turned outward. 

For me I plan to stay here and help steward this new world, the first of it's kind, forward. To protect it from the greed that destroyed our original home. In time humanity may come to regard no world as home. Simply maybe it will be just the universe. That, to my sense of morality, seems cold. However, I am a product of a by-gone era. One where we had a place. A place in time and space. This idea will be a difficult to hold true as the years go by, for why would anyone feel one place is home when there are so many potential ones to be created.

I originally created this drawing at the request of my mother who wanted to me to draw some ginkgo leaves. Two posts ago I showed you the stippled version. She had collected a few when her and my father were vacationing in the Appalachian mountains of North Carolina. She kept them pressed in a book and when I was visiting my parents recently she pulled them out and I set out to do what I do. I hope she likes the drawing.

The story above is one that I have been thinking, and writing about for some time now. It was born out of my explorations with the Japanese Ukiyo-e, or floating world, genre of art. It also of course hearkens back to my love of science fiction.

I hope you do like the art and words. I would love to hear your thoughts on it all so do get in touch.

Thanks, Doug.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Feeding The Creative Soul

Pen & Ink Fine Art By Doug Ashby
Nothing other then the sun itself could illuminate so well. Nothing, not even the sun, inspires such. Nothing, other then the moon, brings such a profound sense of calm, and mystery. Nothing, other then the moon, shrouds itself in a weird and wonderful dichotomy deep within our collective conscience. 

 For nothing other then the moon feeds the artist imagination. A timeless and enduring muse that renders itself available only at it's own will. While the scientist can tell you in great detail when and where the it will be. What it will look like. This only detracts from its precious omnipotence over our psyche. 

For nothing like the moon, not even the sun, has so much to feed the creative soul. 

Typically I am not one that defies the logical. I find that to be difficult. However there is something about the moon that has always intrigued me. This is why you see so many shapes in my drawings reminiscence of it. A while back a good friend suggested I go for a more realistic look and feel to the moon. This is my first attempt at that. I am not sure if it steals an essential quality, robs the imagination of all the possibilities those moons in my work might be. However this is simply a look at what our moon looks like. I believe the sky is wide open for what other moons, orbiting other planets, might look like in their night skies. This sounds like a fun avenue to explore.

Currently I am working on a ball point pen drawing that does have my signature, more then one moon, and yet attempts to render a more realistic look. I look forward to working on that in a moment and to sharing it with you. I also plan to do this drawing you see here with the stipple technique. That also will come soon.

I hope you like the art. Please feel free to let me now what you think.

Thanks, Doug.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

For My Mom.......

Pen & Ink Fine Art By Doug Ashby
This past summer my mother had a request for me. She asked if I would draw her some Ginkgo leaves she had found and dried while on a vacation she and my father took the previous spring in North Carolina. I asked if I could see the leaves and she obliged. That afternoon I set about working on them. This artwork here is the final culmination of that artistic journey.

I am not sure if this is exactly what she had in mind. My guess is she was hoping more for a simple image of just the leaves. However, I know she will not be surprised when she sees this image as she knows I have a hard time doing anything typical and expected. She knows I have to put my own creative spin on things.

So here we have another image in my ever expanding "Other Floating Worlds" series. Truthfully I am surprised this direction has not sputtered out yet. It has been some time that I have worked in this series and I really don't see an end in sight. I guess like the long lived Japanese Ukiyo-e art I have more to give. In fact recently I think the work has evolved a bit and has set out in a new direction, unique but true to my original intent.

Needless to say this artwork you see here is an original pen and ink stipple illustration. Stippling is similar to pointillism where by I use dots to create areas of shade and tone. The drawing is done with Micron Sakuru archival pens on Canson heavy weight fine art paper. The combination of the two makes the artwork archival/museum quality. Which simply means it will last a long time. Just like my prints. If you are interested in purchasing the original you can for $150.00. To inquire please email me at Of course my full line of prints are available as well. To see more about that check out my shop page.

I hope you enjoy the art. If you have any questions or just want to tell me how you feel about it do not hesitate to get in touch.

Thanks, Doug.