Emotions and the memories that thrive within them fuel my way of thinking, and dictate how I use a brush when I paint. Color and brush strokes are a natural extension of how my mind works. I can look upon a subject and see the brushstrokes and the color mixing patterns that I will need to begin a painting. I love throwing in the unexpected bits of bright colors to bring more life to the paint. The mixture of my mark making and my handwriting create a beautiful chaos in my work. Whether it is the endless stream of thoughts written down behind the subjects, or the facial expressions of my figures, each canvas tells a story.
My work is quirky. I don't go for picturesque portraits of people that are normally expected. I like a bit of comedy and intensity instead. I love painting strange expressions, whether completely candid moments, or sometimes a bit more staged. Either way, I like portraying this cartoon-like view of the human face. It's amazing how many creases and curves one may have on their face when contorting one's face into a strange look. I love to have fun making my work, so taking a photograph that has character is highly important. When I pose my models, I make sure not to get the deer-in-headlights look that can come from candid photography. I make sure to capture them in a way that shows their uniqueness and personal oddities to do their artistic portrayals more justice.
All of the people on my canvases or printmaking plates to date are people that I personally know. I tried to capture a moment, a statement of them as individuals as well as who they are to me. There are many things hidden in the scrawled out messages in the paint: memories shared, hard times, favorite quotes, or even my personal opinions of the person. I've also hidden stories about myself in the backgrounds as well, so there are my own secrets and thoughts mixed in. All of these stories, memories, opinions are bits and pieces the simple, yet intimate details that I may not even be comfortable with sharing aloud, but none the less, the stories are here, hidden from view and just out of reach. During the stream of consciousness that the words are written in, I usually forget what I have written by the end of it. My thoughts and feelings remain a mystery by the end, even to myself at times. Even though the exact wording of everything may fade over time, I have created a sort of visual ode to not only my model, but also a part or a time of my life.Ashley Helbert