Seattle might be notorious for niche coffee shops and scenic waterways, but locals know it's also home to an array of people who love to create. This city is chock-full of artists and today marks the first weekly artist feature on Seattle Refined! If you have a local artist in mind that you would like to see featured, let us know at email@example.com. And if you're wondering just what constitutes art, that's the beauty of it; it's up to you!
After we published our first Artist of the Week profile last week, we heard from many locals who were either artists themselves or had loved ones who they thought would be perfect for this project. But one name quickly came to the top of the list for our next profile - partially because both his father and his aunt submitted him! Curtis Ashby doesn't just have a proud family who wants him to get the recognition he deserves - he's also a talented painter and graphics designer.
Seattle Refined: How long have you been working with paint and graphics? Do you work with other mediums?
CASH: I’ve been drawing and painting since I can remember, but I got serious about it in 2006 when I was a senior in high school. I had a mentor at the time who specialized in Mexican folk art and helped me dive into the world of color. I mainly focus on painting with acrylics and spray paint and drawing but I also like to try out other mediums and work three-dimensionally with cardboard, paper and found objects.
Can you tell us about your artistic process and how the different stages work into it?
When I paint, I like to work quickly. I spread and blend the acrylics in an oil paint style. I start with stencils and spray paint to build up the background and I keep layering and adding texture to give it the feel of a wall you might find on a city street that had been painted many times and is now peeling back to show its layers.
Tell us about where your inspiration for your pieces comes from?
I am inspired by the colors and textured found in the city as well as wildlife that is more likely to be seen in suburban or rural areas. I like to blend the two environments. I am completely fascinated by American ornithologist and painter John James Audubon. The idea of exploring and adventure while at the same time discovering and painting thousands of different birds and other animals seem amazing to me.
Do you have one piece that means more to you, or is extremely special to you?
When I start a new series of work, the first piece of that new collection is usually my favorite because it influences the rest of the paintings in that series. I also have a large painting of Jesus that my Uncle Edmund painted a few years ago when he came to Washington to visit. I watched him paint it in my room and I was so enthralled and inspired by his process. That one is definitely a special piece to me.
You mention in your “About Me” section that the recent loss of your brother changed your outlook on life.
My brother was always a huge supporter of my art. We grew up skateboarding and playing music, so art was everywhere around us. Whenever he saw a cool skateboard graphic or band logo he was quick to show me in hopes it’d spark an idea for whatever I was working on at the time. A few months before he passed away, he was working on moving to Utah. He asked me to paint an old bookshelf he had so he’d have some of my art in his new home. The look of excitement on his face when he saw the finished product was really rewarding. Something I’ll not soon forget. I’m more motivated now than I have ever been to pursue my passion for art. I miss him a lot, but I know he’d be encouraging me and asking what I was going to paint next. I’m always thinking about the next great art project now.
What is next for you? Anything you’re working on right now that you’re really excited about?
I recently was hired by the City of Tacoma as an assistant muralist. I am very excited for our upcoming mural in the Fernhill neighborhood. Working with this mural team is proving to be a very wonderful experience and I’ve been learning a lot from the other artists as well.
Lastly, how do you take your coffee? (We ask everyone :)
I drink plain black, drip coffee. I like to keep it simple.