National Artist Day Blog - Featuring @ashcanworks – TPG Creations/The Pencil Grip, Inc.
Featuring an Artist in Spotlight for National Artist Day 10/25: @ashcanworks

Featuring an Artist in Spotlight for National Artist Day 10/25: @ashcanworks

Featuring an Artist in Spotlight for National Artist Day 10/25: @ashcanworks

Ready for some creativity? October 25th is National Artist Day, a time to honor the creative souls who bring color, beauty, and inspiration into our lives. Whether you're an artist yourself or simply appreciate the arts, this is the perfect occasion to let your imagination run wild and embrace your inner Picasso. 

Why Celebrate?

National Artist Day is a reminder of the incredible impact that artists have on our lives. They have the power to transport us to different worlds, evoke emotions we didn't know we had, and make us see the beauty in the simplest of things.

Featured Artist:

Ashley McKee @ashcanworks

We'd like to feature a talented artist and art teacher, Ashley McKee. Ashley McKee is an an amazing artist who we discovered across Instagram! She is a current brand ambassador of ours and not only creates wonderful, creative work using some of our products like Kwik Stix, Wonder Stix, and Magic Stix but also creates amazing work with all of the products she uses! Keep scrolling to learn more about Ashley and to get the inside scoop of how she started, quotes, techniques, and her favorite products!

More about Ashley:

"I haven’t actually been making art for long. After years of being a busy stay at home mom I got hired as an elementary art teacher in the same district as my husband, a fellow elementary art teacher! Same job, same district, same schedule! It was like hitting the job lottery! A few busy years later we bought a bigger home and started renovating (gutting), and I struggled with living in a work zone. I hadn’t really made personal art for myself or others since college, but I’d been following artists like Helen Dardik on instagram. Watching her paint with watercolors and gouache was MESMERIZING. I had to try it. So I ordered myself paints, brought my small antique draftsman’s table in from the garage, and I set up shop in the living room behind the couch because every other nook and cranny of our new home was a renovation zone." -Ashley McKee

The Start of Creativity:

This is the very first piece that Ashley created. This is an illustration of Mary Blair. Ashley admired her whimsical style, bold and divergent use of color, and confidence. 

"It was good practice, like riding a bike, getting the feel for how materials felt and manipulating them to do what I wanted them to do. My confidence grew."

Ashley also created a version of The Fantastic Mr.Fox inspired by the Wes Anderson film. 

"So I painted my version of The Fantastic Mr. Fox inspired by the Wes Anderson film. His color palette choices and style staple symmetry are a feast for the eyes! So I dove in, keeping those things in mind. I love textures, contrast, color, and WHIMSY."

Ashley painted a Cassie Stephens as a thank you and appreciation gesture. Ashley went on a whimsical portrait craze that kept her busy for two years! She realized she wanted a change and decided to step away from portraiture and explore new creative capabilities!

After an online book study with Cassie, Ashley realized why she wanted to teach. It was something Ashley, herself wanted to hear as a kid growing up. 

"Art, whether personal or developed for classroom lessons, is best when it’s a mix of what you love and what you know. The more you see, experience, hear, read, and do, the more inspiration you have to pull from to pour into creative problem solving and making!"

Ashley once created her own personal stories from her childhood and things she loves. She calls this piece "The Man in the Moon", it is a combination of memories she has of her grandfather. She remembers him sitting in his chair, drinking his tea, sitting close to the fireplace, and looking into the night sky. Ashley's grandfather was a big role model to her and a positive influence to her life and artwork. Check out these incredible pieces inspired by her grandfather.

"My rad plaid grandfather always wore plaid shirts with shiny snap pearl buttons that I loved. I love that art can tell a story, stir up feelings of nostalgia, and draw people together as a conversation piece. What a superpower!"

Mixing Products:

"A lot of artists I follow use watercolor, gouache, payons, or even Kwik Stix as a base for their work that they build on with markers, paints, colors pencils, pen/ink, etc. I LOVE mixing materials, and I explore combinations in my personal art and in lessons I develop for my classroom!"

When Ashley was a child she owned a popular toy called a Polly Pocket. She was fascinated by the little mobile worlds. What Ashley did, was recreate a tiny world for her nephew. She knew he would love this for his bugs, being that he loved the outdoors! 

In these next set of images, Ashley illustrated her home town. She lives in a rural area full of small communities. Ashley lives what she calls a "small town life." As she drives through her hometown each day, she appreciates the scenery around her, which is what inspired this series of artwork.

"I love the old houses, the mix of colors. It’s almost like going back in time as you drive through the towns!"

Ashley loves illustrating her own life and capturing special moments. In this next piece, she illustrated her kids playing in her pavilion at the end of the yard. 

Ashley enjoys creating some of her favorite folktales. These are Jack Tales, some of her most loved tales!

Ashley also had the opportunity to illustrate her very first book cover for 104 Art Jokes and More by Elaine Hammermaster Godinez. 

Her book cover illustration journey is not over, she also has a children's book on deck!

One of Ashley's creative hidden talents is creating unique gifts for people she cares about. 

"This is a sculpture I made of our former music teacher who moved away-the piano man!" - Ashley McKee

 These are birdhouses that were made with gourds, bought from a local farmer.

This local farmer also has a happy, old barn that it inspired Ashley to recreate!

Sharing Skills with Others:

One of Ashley's favorite things to do is to share her skills with her students. She does this by developing new student projects and painting in large areas! She does this to create an open and welcoming atmosphere for her students. 

"The lobby wall illustrations and mirror paintings are a warm welcome to all who come through our building, like a giant card for all to see." - Ashley McKee

"I want my school and the people in it to feel special and to maybe be inspired to think outside of where they are, push themselves as far as they can, and to always live a life of learning!" - Ashley McKee

 Ashley is currently illustrating sight words to help kindergarten friends! 

"Life as artist and art teacher mix and cross all the time, and I love that. I think it’s helped me to be a better, more open teacher." - Ashley McKee

More with Kwik Stix, Magic Stix, and Wonder Stix: