Art Spotlight: Ashton Hill of Kettle Head Art

Ashton Hill’s imagination takes place in a whimsical children’s book filled with creatures and forests.  Her elephant painting inspired my husband at The Big What, as he is always attracted by the animal. It was a pleasure to experience her art and style for the first time and we knew we would want a further look into her life and inspiration.

Where are you from? How do you think where you grew up affected how you turned out as an adult?
I grew up in rural Highland County, Virginia, engrossed in mountains and forests. My neverland-esque childhood still thrives in my mind and that is where my creations come from. My mother home-schooled all her children, training them up with her art teaching experience which influenced my own creativity in my younger years.


Where do you live now?

Currently I’m located in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.


What music gets you going creatively?

Funk gets me moving while strings intrigue me. Every image in my imagination is directly affected by the music I surround myself with.


Do you vend at festivals/shows?
I haven’t had the opportunity as of yet to officially set up shop at any festivals, but I have appeared at shows to paint. Given the chance I’ll be vending for festival season next summer.


Describe yourself in three words: Asymmetrical, Colorful, and overly empathetic.


Were you always artistic or did something bring on the desire to create?

My mother told me the other day that she had wax poisoning when I was born. Apparently I had a crayon in hand when I exited, and had graffitied her womb on the way out.


Why do you think art/creativity is necessary to society?

Without Art and Creativity, even our language would not have been contrived. What are words besides some beautiful symbol of creative representation.


What is your favorite piece you’ve done to date and why is it your favorite?

Every piece is my new favorite, each better than the last. The most meaningful piece of work I’ve created is “The Rabbit Heard a Thump” though, representing my awakening from the darkness of depression. This painting was done on the anniversary of my dear friends death, and when I had finished I found myself spiritually, artistically and physically enlightened.


Where do you find inspiration?

The connection between the earth and her creatures draws my attention more-so than any other design of nature or man. I see inspiration by observing the abundance of life outside of society.


Who do you look up to within the art or craft world? Bob Ross!

Tell me about your creative process.

When working on an art piece, I prefer either one of these two extremes. Live painting opens my mind to the natural pace of the music, whereas hiding in my studio all night fixed on my canvas gives me the solitude to look inwardly and paint as I feel.


What are you working on currently, what are your plans for the future? My most recent painting which was started at The Big What Festival in Possum Holler, NC, was finished throughout the next few weeks at different live shows. Now that I have completed this piece, I may rest my mind until something else calls my hands to paint (Lord knows what it will be).


What are some challenges in your craft that you have experienced?

The greatest challenge of being an artist is learning to let go of your “baby” for pocket change. I often work so hard and put so much love into my paintings that it’s difficult to accept a client that is blind to the effort put forth. Often enough, while finishing the details of a piece that has drained me emotionally, creatively and physically, I will have a drunk frat boy saunter up and offer 50 bucks for it. I guess the challenge is learning to make a living out of what I love doing.

da bear

What do you do for fun besides create?

I practice photography, mix loose teas and spend time in the quiet.


Is art your only career or do you also have another career?

I’ve been in and out of college for 5 years now, working slowly on obtaining my human services degree. I would like to eventually turn my attention to my farm and it’s development into a drug and alcohol rehab center.

What is your studio or workspace like, and how do you work in your studio?

My studio has never been consistent. I work where I can, where I am and with whatever I have. Each painting is done in a different setting, with different music and different people.

Tell me something funny that has happened to you recently, anything.

While working on a painting at “The Big What” I sent my boyfriend off with my pup “Buddy” to retrieve something from the art tent. When they came back my dog has “Sat” in another artist’s paint. His whole rear was bright green for days! honestly I have a theory that someone just decided he needed a bit of flair.

What is the most defining moment in your life this past year?

After working in solitude for years, believing that I would eventually be recognized for the time and love poured into each creation, I finally received it during this summer tour. To see my audience sincerely lost within my paintings has been acknowledgment I worked so hard for. This summer has been a turning point in my art career.

What is your view on life, i.e. the meaning you see behind it?

There is no meaning to life beyond what you make it. You are here as one of many, each with a different purpose than the next and each with the ability to be useful or useless.

Favorite QUOTE:  “We all know that Art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize the truth, at least the truth that is given to us to understand.” Pablo Picasso

If you could teach or tell the new generation of artists, what would it be? Don’t ever get stuck on one idea. Don’t ever get stuck in one medium. Growth comes from experience, from practice and from exposure.

Where can we buy/order your creations?

I recently opened my Etsy site, called Kettle Head Art. You can also find my information by the same name on Facebook.