Meeting One’s Self Original by Carly Ashdown

Carly Ashdown’s earliest memories are of picking up a pencil and drawing pictures of people. Carly Ashdown was fascinated by human interaction and as a child these imaginative sketches were her way of processing the world around her. They helped her understand the world and her place in it, and creating the illusionary quality of movement allows her to experience a feeling of release.

After completing an Art and Design degree focusing on film and photography, Carly Ashdown went onto enjoy a flourishing career in television, working for organisations such as the BBC and Channel 4. But eventually Carly’s instinct to draw and paint deposed her previous career path, and she began to hone her skill. She soon became fascinated by what paint is capable of and its ability to seduce the viewer through illusion.

From a very young age, Carly Ashdown was fascinated by human interaction and the nature of being human which has influenced her work in many ways as she started training in psychotherapy at the Tavistock and volunteered at Mind in London. As she followed her desire to understand the human experience, exploring how we come to understand ourselves, the world around us, and the idea of personal transformation, it fed into and supported the development of her art.

“What unifies us is an inner beauty which we all share and that’s really at the heart of my work.”

One of her greatest artistic influences is Jackson Pollock who pioneered the unique technique of drip painting, and a similarly abstract style can be seen in Carly’s work, integrated with figurative painting.

All of Carly’s work starts with researching images, which she may take from books or online sources or even her own photographs. Beginning with around fifty images, she’ll narrow them down and begin to draw in a sketchbook, creating a series of sketches that evolve over time.

When she is ready to take it to the canvas she paints instinctively, starting with a charcoal outline that is washed over with water. Then, carefully selecting her colours, she will drip acrylic paint down the canvas. She says: “I often find myself in a dialogue with the painting, listening to what’s being asked of me. I know in the first 10 to 20 minutes if I’m creating something with magic in it.”

Detailed shading is created to help the figure pop out the canvas followed by dripping paint and flicking paint at the canvas. Carly will move between the vibrant and energetic adding of paint and detailed work with an intricately small brush to achieve the desired effect.

Near the completion of a painting she paints the white background, lays the painting flat on the floor and start dripping paint onto the figure to break it up further. Once dry, the painting will be stood upright and Carly may still flick more paint across the canvas to add any final shading. She says: “It is quite a process, and there is a lot of chaos within structure.”