26 Jul Q&A with Nellie Ashford, Kevin Harris and Lucy Warlick
Meet the artists at the show “Naturally Textured: A Fine Art Exhibition” Friday, August 4th from 5-8pm during the South End Gallery Crawl at Coffey & Thompson Art Gallery, Frame and Design located at 1200 S. Graham Street, Charlotte, North Carolina.
Can you describe your artistic process and preparation?
“I am a self-proclaimed folk artist whose work expresses cultural identity, shared community values, and aesthetics. My inspiration comes from the life that surrounds me and memories of my past. Do it for yourself that’s how I started, just do what you feel you want to do. I incorporate a mix of materials that often reflect real-life experiences with families, children, community, dancers, and musicians with vibrant detail and emotion. Through my art, I create a world of historical expression which mostly depicts imagery from the segregated South and reflects a time gone by allowing the viewer to understand the Charlotte that once was.”
“I would classify myself as self-taught. I have chosen to pursue my own brand of development by consistently challenging myself to get better. My mediums of choice are soft pastels and oil paints. I am meticulous about my process by always finishing one painting before moving onto the next. I am a self-professed growth junkie as I have consistently pushed myself artistically to learn something new with each piece of art I create. My inspiration comes from growing up in the 1960s in both Washington, D.C. with my father and summers spent in Harlem, NY with my mother. I currently reside in Charlotte, NC with my wife and three children.”
“I make my art either responding to a photograph I have taken or by giving over the subject to chance or chaos, covering the canvas with collage, random marks or stamping so that the subject matter reveals itself to me, like finding objects in cloud formations. My two approaches to painting seem to manifest from opposite sides of my brain, but what connects these two sides is my intuition, which chooses a particular photo or finds a subject matter in the chaos of a canvas of random marks and additives.”
“I generally try to develop at least a small sketch laying out the value pattern. Sometimes, an alternative I can use and edit photo references on the computer which saves time. When I begin a painting I start with a simple two value statement which separates light from shadow. I may do this as an underpainting or a drawing on the surface. I work looser at the beginning and gradually get thickness. I build any light areas (fat over lean). The way I paint is more painterly realism because I do like to see some evidence of brushwork, but there is always a part of me that can’t help but try to render certain areas more realistically to emphasize the focal areas.”
What do you want your audience to know about your work?
“Each work that I create has a story to tell. Vintage fabrics clothe images of people who reflect varying ethnicity, religious faiths, occupation, ages, and genders. They identify and complement each other and their world. To people, I’d like to say that I’m honored when people recognize my work, like it and even buy it. I’m such a folk artist that I never thought it would take me this far so I’m humbly honored.”
“I am very mindful of making the work my reward and seek excellence as opposed to sales. Currently, my paintings are consigned to multiple galleries in Charlotte and I have displayed my work at numerous events throughout the East Coast in cities like Atlanta, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C. My work has been featured in Art & Beyond Magazine and I have self-published several books of my pastel portraiture and oil paintings.
“I am a figurative painter who wants to paint people’s thoughts filtered through my mind and my brush. I want to present a situation and pose to viewers a question they can solve by engaging their story-telling imaginations. I like to draw the viewer into the picture through design, value, and texture. Color, for me, is an afterthought, although I am getting less afraid of it these days.”
“I like to depict beauty, particularly the beautiful figures around me and that I encounter which is why most of my subjects I know personally. But, I also want viewers to dig deeper when looking at my work to analyze why colors were used, why figures are positioned as they are, etc. Hopefully, viewers are satisfied with the craftsmanship I have presented them.”