• Charlotte Ashley

Provenance and my craft.

Updated: Sep 5, 2020

For this week I’ve been taking part in the very British wool week organised by the fabulous Rainy Williamson. today’s theme is provenance and I couldn’t be more thrilled, a subject I feel I have something to contribute.

When creating artwork that’s bespoke It has provenance in bundles, A portrait will always have a story and will never be “just a picture” the work created by me starts life on the back of a sheep on the farm, all wool is processed by hand, and the canvas is made from scratch the paint is made from scratch even the colour is processed by me and that’s one element. Often this isn’t the most important part to my clients, Even if it is an amazing thing to shout about.

My work is predominantly pet portraiture and often contains the hair and personality of that pet. I’m not just making A German Shepherd I’m making Jess who was so much loved by her mums and they would know if a hair was out of place and my work NEEDS to be her not just any old dog, not only does it contain a lot of her hair it needs to look spot on. The provenance has dual meaning and comes from both the owners of the animals and also from me. the Clients have as much say in my commissioned artwork as me which I find quite exciting as you don’t know what your going to end up with.

It is so important to me to capture that something in an animal and I try so hard to get that sparkle in the eye or the way they hold their head. I have captured “that look” without a picture before and let me tell you it was the hardest thing I’ve done yet and also the most nerve wracking thing to deliver, when that lady said I hit the nail on the head it was amazing and such a relief. Below are photos of that process, the top dog is Lily and her mum had a million photos on a pen drive and a few were clear and close enough to use as reference, Lily unfortunately wasn’t with us anymore so asking for another was out of the question, she wanted the look of lily in picture four with her head cocked slightly and that was her typical look she gave, the only problem was the picture was really old and blurry so I found a more in focus picture to copy the finer details from and literally had to wing it. Lily’s mum was happy with the result and I was pleased with myself. I’m very fussy about what photos I can work from the better the photo the better the finished result.

I am an artist who processes my own materials and I often get labelled with the ”craft label” and you know what I’m good with that, back in the old days I used to find this offensive and slightly demeaning like I wasn’t good enough to be called an artist, these days I’m confident in myself, I’m very sure of my work and have learnt the hard way when you drive yourself mad questioning every mark and move you make you only diminish your confidence and it shows in your work.

I have a craft that I love, processing wool is therapeutic and adds an extra element most artists can’t get close to, my friend Sara once said to me “even Picasso didn’t make his own paint” he probably did 🤫 but it made me smile.

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