Early abstract painting by Ashley Kunz. 2014
I've always had an intense obsession with the arts.
My obsession wasn't limited to painting either.
My love of the arts started when I was 11 years old and was determined to be a famous singer. After realizing that I couldn't carry a tune if my life depended on it, I shifted my focus to writing.
I've always loved to read and thought that writing would come naturally to me. Very few things in life come naturally to anyone, and I learned very quickly that writing took a lot of hard work and determination. Throughout my teenage years I spent hours each day writing songs, poems and short stories. It was therapeutic, it was enlightening and it was empowering. I continued to write consistently throughout high school but once I graduated, I started spending more time living life rather than writing about it.
I didn't discover my passion for visual arts until I took a ceramics class in high school. On the first day of class, our teacher gave each of us a lump of clay and told us to make anything we wanted. I made a mushroom. The teacher, assuming I was a troublemaker, gave me an ultimatum on that first day. I would have to make 100 ceramic mushrooms, or I would fail the class. I spent the entire semester building mushrooms with my hands. I spent hours at the library researching the many types of mushrooms and memorizing their structure. I built mushroom boxes to hold treasures, plaques to hang on the wall, small mushrooms, huge mushrooms. Mushrooms that were brown and mushrooms that were teal and speckled. In that class, I learned about discipline and the importance of repetition in the arts. To this day, I still have a small collection of my mushrooms in my studio.
After I graduated high school, my focus shifted to starting my career in banking and raising my family.
In 2012 I quit my banking job and go to college to get a degree in Human Resources. Shortly into my schooling, I began to feel incomplete. I wanted to do something big with my life and Human Resources wasn't the end game. I was at home one day and came across a painting on the internet that I loved. Looking at that painting led me to question:
Can I paint?
Painting wasn't something I had ever considered to do even as a hobby, let alone a career so I started small with a few canvas boards and some cheap brushes and craft paint. I painted at my living room table in between doing homework and caring for my daughter. I posted a few pictures of the paintings I completed on Facebook and had people inquiring about how to purchase my art.
I didn't plan on being an artist. It just happened. I've never had any formal painting education so everything I know I learned through trial and error, watching videos online and reading books. I have self-taught my way for over 5 years and continually learn new things.
As I've grown in my career, I've upgraded my supplies and I work on large-scale canvases and I regularly take commission jobs. I've changed my style a few times and Also, my painting studio has been moved from my living room into an awesome space in my basement.
In 2015, global acrylic paint brand Liquitex had a contest in celebration of their 60th anniversary. The company was going to pick 12 artists throughout the year to represent the brand as a Diamond Artist. In May 2015, I was contacted by Liquitex and was told that I was selected to be a Diamond Artist for the month of June. I was shocked! I had never applied for anything before and somehow I won this huge contest! As part of my prize, I received a box of Liquitex paints and mediums, had an article written about me and my work on their website and they promoted my paintings to their hundreds of thousands of social media followers! The impact of being chosen for such a huge honor so early in my career was immeasurable as I still see how it has influenced my confidence in my work to this day.
I will forever be grateful for the support I receive from my family, friends and the community. When I was very new to the art scene, everyone was so kind and encouraged me to keep painting.
To answer the question: "can I paint?" In my opinion, the answer is "Yes!" I hope to continue to learn new things and grow as an artist.
Under Your Halo, 2018