Friday, November 10, 2017

StockFord Park Mural 2016/17/ part 1

Stockford Park, 2016 , the bare canvas

Some practice notes and we gear up to get started. It is Bike Maine

Little concert from Bike Maine. Duanne Ingalls happened to wear a shirt matching the color blue of the sky.

Drawing notes for Fred to show proof I was working on the idea

Original water color sketch with a tentative plan for the stage walls.
Working the ideas first out on paper really more to create the vibe. I knew I wanted the sky to be big and Crows flying. We had a magical summer of rainbows here in Lubec that summer, specifically over The Narrows. It was magical.

Some inspiration. This is a certain vantage point in Lubec on Water Street I often take note of. Really there are so many. I took a few of my favorite snippets and wanted to put them into the mural, so I deviated from the original drawing. I like to paint that way, start with an idea and then let what wants to come out be born.

First day on the site. THE mural is under way!! It all begins here, with this little bit of charcoal. Of the ashes something will be born. I love starting my work in charcoal...what could be more magical than burnt stick to unlock the curtain, black like Crows the messengers.

and so it begins

I have my notes spread out, reference drawings, big jugs o paint to mix. These paints were from Sherry Evers at the Clutter Shop. Before that the paints had been Claudia Malhmons, a local accomplished artist that recently passed. She is well missed in the art community here so I was super happy that she got to partake in this project in some way. Her legacy carried on by her materials. I had the basic colors only so it was a fun test in my skill for color theory mixing. I love the nitty gritty stuff. Thalo Blue as opposed to Aqua marine blue.... yum yum my mouth is watering. If she was still alive she would be down here checking on me by now.

I love this wild west down east crazy little town. THE DODGE building shall be mine one day!!

First scratches. I had music...and was dancing and painting a lot with my finger in the air mentally crafting. The neighbor dude had to come over to find out what the heck was going on.... I was off in my own little world, just where I want to be.

End of day one.
I have decided the building must live and abandon the original watercolor idea. What is gonna fly is gonna fly.

Finding my perfect sky blue was a pretty fun era in time for me. I spent weeks thinking about what my perfect shade of blue would be.

I came to the mural every day for a long time to get the foundation of the painting built. Each day I came this little spider had cast a web some place a new. Each visit I would just paint around her. 

this is what the Moon and Venus were doing when the project was first being born.

I just had to draw what was in front of me that day. We lost the Old Cat Food Cannery over the winter. No longer there but preserved in the mural in just the nick of time.

Of course the Crows had to come and keep a good eye on me. As well as many town folk stopping by to say "hey". People are super happy to inquire about the project. People start to stop and ask me about it everywhere I go....As an introvert this kind of attention makes me uncomfortable so I apologize to those that have had socially awkward encounters with me.

Turtle Totem Love

Home turf on Water Street

Annabell is still alive when I am painting this.....

I get totally into the is all I can think about. Quinn is my little helper. He goes days with me and rides his bike around the park. He hangs out with the seagulls and walks on the beach. He helps lug shit and can mix paints for me by instruction. What ever I need he's my man. He's got his Moms back. We get the idea to pull an all nighter, We are bike riding adventuring loving dirty Hobos. We bring fire wood and lamps, the radio, an electrical chord and plenty o snacks and drink, light a fire in the grill and get to work. We paint until 2 am then sleep in the car. It is a goal of Quinn's to stay the full night..."No matter what Mom!!" It has become an epic memory for Q now.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

" Open Sky " acrylic on board...S. Ashby
I Want To Be

when old age sets 
white haired and amber eyed all aglow 
A Woman who enjoyed her youth
Who savored every step
like it was the last bit of the gravy on the plate
I fought hard
to make it sing
to find my voice
to stand tall
I pray my children fly stronger on their own wings
I want to be - that woman with peace in her eyes
I fought hard for love she says . . . and won.
                                                  ~ sherry ashby

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Finding a Mob Boss

It is always a pleasure to work with author J.D. Rule. This is the finished art I recently completed for his latest book entitled

" Voices: Of The American Muse"

 This is the third book I have been commissioned by JD to do work for.  He came this time with an exact scene to capture that was utterly appealing to me. The scene as he spelled out is that of a mob boss, sitting in a dark corner and out onto the stage walks a stripper. He has immediate designs on her. She is unaware of his presence and has yet to meet him. JD's instructions for me are to give her a face to fall in love with and to make the make the mob boss very much in the shadows. The strippers pole must be prominent. All else is up to me in design and medium. And so the journey begins to climb inside another persons head and to bring their vision to life.

As an artist this kind of work is much different from gallery work or making art for myself. I am on a deadline and I have a guide line, it does not flow the same way as if I am connected with my own vision. I am trying to do right by someone else's idea and work more with in a structure. I can't get too lost... I have to stay on the path to get to where I have been hired to be.

So it begins with a million rough sketches, playing with paper choice or substrate depending on the medium,  which medium will create the atmosphere I am going for?,  and playing with design..this is illustration not gallery work, the rules are different. What do I want these characters to look like? How can I translate this? So begins the process of finding my own vision and for me all else stops. The children fend for themselves to be fed, the dishes pile up and the laundry is not done. I dive into a project like this with full focus. . . and that is one of the things I love about art.
. . . a face to fall in love with...

I love detail. So putting the mob boss in the shadows was a bit of a challenge for me. I chose to work on a cotton rag creme colored paper to push the high lights and make the darks dark, What is more shadowy than charcoal? Burnt sticks....awesome. A chunk of burnt wood to push around freely on paper, I forgot how much I loved this medium until this project. I often use it as sort of an under painting as a tool, but rarely do I use it alone for a full drawing. It is a wonderful free medium to use, but a bit of a challenge to photograph, it picks up the layers one can not see with the naked eye. I used white charcoal on the lady and outlined her in ink, one simple layer of ink with a dip pen to keep the line solid...she is supposed to be seen after all. Charcoal has a way of floating away from you, so the ink anchored her.


For the lady she is drawn out of my head with no reference. I draw women all the time, but rarely draw men. I tend to focus on the divine feminine. But it was clear I needed a dude for reference for this project. The most Mob Bossy guy I know goes by the name of CrowsNeck Boutin and he graciously allowed me to "borrow" his face for this assignment. Like me, Crow is a native Lubecer. And growing up in Lubec presents some unique challenges. We live in an economically starved area, but the land here is rich in so many ways, for the ones like us that took root here, it is a powerful place to have been born and raised.

Crowsneck is a Professional Prize Fighter and now lives in Southern Maine. He says, "A prize fighter is what I am. I battle for money. I battle to evolve as a spirit and a man."
Crow is a fierce, kind and intelligent man, very layered and very disciplined. He is in tune with the force within himself and within the world around him....all pretty mob bossy qualities.

I would imagine going into battle in a cage fight to have similar attributes to a man setting out to win a woman he has designs on, that primal part of the human race we are derived from..... And it makes a woman like me who so often contemplates the divine feminine contemplate what it means to be of the divine masculine, especially as a mother of two boys as I am. The evolution of spirit and the conquering of past demons. Living an authentic life has no gender.

I drew many sketches before I settled on the one I would is the process of my Mob Bossy dude . . .

 ...sketches for the shadowy Mob boss....

People often ask me how long a painting or drawing takes.  I tend to just make stuff and don't think about the time, it seems to take away from the process for me. And really, there is no way to answer that question in a concrete way. When involved in any kind of a project I eat, sleep, and pray it. The hours spent on it are much more than the hours spent putting charcoal to paper. On this project I spent a good solid 7 days ....if not more.

*********************************************************************************ABOUT THE AUTHOR  

JD Rule

The title - Voices: Of the American Muse - was chosen because each of the five women portrayed in the stories is forced to take action as a solitary player, with no support systems or back-up plans at the point where a decision must be made. They all take place on American soil, none have time to consider what to do, and for each the consequence of failure is severe. Not all of them succeed.
Whether their action is heroic is for the reader to decide. 
Looking to have it out by mid November. 

other work I have illustrated for JD can be found on Amazon and at local venues. Belt: Two Novellas

Find more about JD here....he is an talented amazing man.

Friday, October 7, 2016

I saw you today- with your crooked smile
and your heart on your sleeve.

I saw you there in the garden, next to the forget -me- nots 
and the "my love lies bleeding". I knew your head was the clouds and a conversation with dragons was pasings through the ethers. 
You don't live with feet firmly planted.

Just before I saw the garden- I was driving along Water Street 
a "Love Song" came on the radio.
a parked car had a license plate that read "LOVE".  
My attention was pulled to the very next parked car with a licence plate that read " TRAP".

I turned off the radio and kept driving.
Then I saw you there,   . . . in the garden
with your head and heart in the Clouds
resting among the flowers
-the wildest of flowers
                                       ~ Sherry Ashby

Poetry growing in a box, " My Love Lies Bleeding " grows with the wild flower " Forget - Me - Not "

Sunday, March 20, 2016

" Convalescing " graphite on paper, Sherry Ashby

Sacred: Women in Vision now on display at the Umm Art Gallery for the month of March, 2016

 She sits on a chair that has roots reaching to the earth and limbs growing towards the sky. The roots of the growing chair gather nourishment from the water for now, until they can find higher ground to take root in, but they are roots that needed to be soaked. The Woman rests upon the chair gathering the golden light from below in the earth and harvesting the white light from above. The element of air, water and the grounding of earth energy are all present here. She has been through a powerful storm and now takes a moment to recharge. There is a need for solitary time and introspection as she taps into collective energy to heal a psychic wound. 

Her one arm merges with the limb of a the chair as it grows, and she is tapping into this grounding life force. The other arm has taken the shape of a wing, suggesting the element of air (thought) and the need for cleansing and letting go.

The roses that sit upon the chair suggest the importance of self love and self healing.

" The seat of the soul is where the inner world and the outer world meet. Where they overlap, it is in every point of the overlap"  ~ Novalis 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

"Inside Out"  pastel on BFK Rives, Sherry Ashby Cunningham
You Were My Fish
swimming up stream
always against the tide

you were my angel, my lover, my demon
you filled it all with toxic venom and sweet sweet love
wide awake in a house of mirrors
                                 you beckoned- I came and came and came again
juice poured through every crack, every crevice
until I was barren.

my addiction- I bled for you and you alone
you were mine but never mine
I was yours, always yours

You filled me to the brim and it over ran
slurped it up and came back for more
never satiated
the cycle- spinning
lost and empty and full

dancing in the moon
though never roaming always still

you gave it away
you gave it all away

" Inside Out" (detail) pastel on BFK Rives, s.a.cunningham 

Friday, October 3, 2014

New Birth

" Silkie Returning to the Sea" mixed media on BFK Rives paper, Sherry Ashby Cunningham
" Sailing Home", mixed media on BFK Rives paper, Sherry Ashby Cunningham

" Waiting To Be Born" mixed media on BFK Rives paper, SherryAshby Cunningham

" Remembering the Beauty of What Was", mixed media on BFK Rives paper, Sherry Ashby Cunningham
New Journeys start....but the past is not erased. Try as you may to forget, it is a part of you. Embrace. So much beauty...I saw in you. Finding that same beauty in myself is part of the new journey. As I see beauty in me I see beauty in you. Forgiveness, letting go of anger and bitterness. You will forever be part of my soul, my one can take that away. We are connected, why not be connected in love? The dark and the light is equal in it's importance. No matter the will always lie in the foundation of  how we were born and it is how we will die...united in love in loves embrace.