Makers for Makers: Ashley Provencher
Half way through my college career I transferred to Montserrat College of Art. It was a strange jump to go from a State university to a small private art school of under 500 students so it took time to adjust. In my second semester, I met a girl who would become my roommate my senior year and that is where Ashley comes into my life. My roommate and Ashley were tied at the hip and I openly welcomed the smiling positive soul into my life. She was the third roommate we wanted to have. There aren't many people you would say that about, I'm sure, but Ashley lights up a room and pours nothing out but love to the people that surround her.
Ashley now lives in Boston where she has truly found her own unique path as a painter and illustrator. Its been a joy watching her work hard over the past 4-5 years after college to become the amazing artist that she is today. You can see all the dreamy textures she creates in her work that is sea inspired as you read through this #makersformakers feature. There is no one more deserving than Ashley so I am proud, honored, happy—all that sappy stuff—to introduce you all to Ashley Provencher.
Tell us about yourself as an artist.
Well to start off you should know that I’m madly in love with the ocean, being near it, in it, close to it; everything about the ocean brings happiness to my life. I grew up going to the beach at any given chance that was available. My mom and I would spend sun up to sun down by the water. Over the years I started to paint my ideas of the ocean. My paintings aren’t exact replicas of the ocean but more my memories and feelings from my times spent there. The other part of my art is my love for New Orleans. I spent a summer there rebuilding, working on urban farms and setting up charter schools. The vibrancy and excitement of the city brought out the colors in my work. In each piece I’m looking to bring joy to the viewer, when they look at my paintings I want them to smile and feel the warmth and energy in each one.
What made you bring this dream to reality?
After graduating from college I started working at an art gallery in Boston. It’s a very unique gallery that assists in finding artwork for hospitals and health centers all over New England. I remember like it was yesterday, the owner of the gallery asked me to bring in some of my artwork so she could take a look at it. At the time all of my paintings were just something I did in my spare time. I had never even considered showing them to anyone. The next day I brought in a few of my paintings that I thought were somewhat representative of me as an “artist” and she loved them. That day we created a PowerPoint for a major project with the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center, which showed my artwork as an option for a wall in a waiting room area. In a week we heard back and my pieces had been chosen to be installed there. It was one of the happiest days I’ve ever had. After that I knew I wanted to keep painting and actually pursue a career as an artist.
What are the core beliefs behind your art?
I think believing in myself and my art. All through college I consistently doubted myself and my artwork, I never felt like I could express my art the way I wanted. Now that I have an amazing support system (friends/family/coworkers) I finally feel proud of what I create. It’s amazing to get emails from hospitals telling me that my artwork has brought smiles to patients and their families while they might be going through something where they need a smile or just something to get lost in.
What was your biggest obstacle when starting out?
Definitely self-doubt. Not having the courage to show what I could create to others. You have to move past what other people think, if something makes you happy or gives you joy you should go for it. For so long I was stuck not wanting to share with others my artwork I thought that people would look at my paintings and not see what I was trying to represent or create, but once I got past the fear of rejection I realized that everyone is different and what some might not enjoy others might love.
Do you have any makers you admired that have inspired you?
I have so many current makers that inspired and continue to inspire me. Most of them are also lovers of the ocean so I feel like I can really relate to them and their artwork. Kim Hovell is one of my favorites she uses such simple brushstrokes and shapes to create these breathtaking contrasting oyster shell paintings. Paula Desimone is another artist who I love. You can get lost in her monoprints, the layers and colors that reside in her pieces bring such an excitement but also a peacefulness to the viewer. Lastly, Robert Cipriani; his work is what I reach for. The layers and texture each of his pieces has is laid out so gorgeously. He started out as a graphic designer and used that background to create such analytical, organized ocean/beach scenes from his times on the cape. Unfortunately, he passed away a couple years ago but I still go to his work for a lot of my inspiration.
What does your typical day as a Maker look like?
Well unfortunately I’m not a full time maker so my days are spent at an office from 8-5, but once I’m home that’s when the magic starts. I live in a very small but beautiful apartment in Boston’s Seaport, because my apartment is so tiny it can be difficult to do a lot of painting in there, so I usually head up to the roof deck where I can see the ocean (and smell it.) I paint till it gets dark then head back downstairs where I either keep paintings or sketch new ideas that came to me while I was up there. The weekends are usually spent traveling with my boyfriend to new beaches or places (we’re trying to visit all 50 states!) my sketch book comes along with me where ever we go so I can either write down something that inspires me or sketch it.
What do you love most about being a Maker?
Being able to create. Since I can remember I’ve always loved making things, painting things, creating things, it’s something that keeps me going. Painting is my way of expressing myself if I didn’t paint I don’t think I’d be really living.
What advice do you have for Makers just starting out?
Be brave! What you create is a part of who you are as a person, never let fear stop you from following your dreams.