Aubrey Ashburn is a third generation woman artist, whose abilities and passion were cultivated by her mother and grandmother through mono-printing, life drawing and painting. Ashburn’s love affair with animals began on her family ranch in Ohio at the budding age of three when her best friends were 13 farm cats. As one of wildlife’s protectors, with an inherent artistic ability, it’s no wonder these two passions eventually led to her work as a wildlife artist.
Ashburn is particularly moved by the humanistic connection that animals have with each other. Many of her works depict a relationship between a mother and baby, two members of a herd or even an entire pack. Her use of color and expressive brushstrokes accentuate the complexity and intensity of these connections. Even her pieces of solitary animals convey a deeper sense of feeling, reflection, and energy. “Just like people, animals cannot hide who they are,” Ashburn says. “Their character is projected onto everything they do, think, and feel.”
Ashburn’s contemporary wildlife depictions in oil give a purposeful voice to her subjects and are seen as bold and powerful, with rich complex texture and palette choices and filled with meaningful intention, striking at the heart. They walk the traditional and contemporary line, with forms rooted in realism, yet abstractions that push the boundaries of color, line and value.
In 2013 after a trip to Africa, Ashburn set out to raise awareness of the need to save the African Elephant and other threatened species. She was inspired to begin facilitating healing as well as education through her work. Since then she has dedicated a number of series of works to raising the awareness of endangered animals around the world.
In addition to her success as a painter, Ashburn is also an award-winning classically trained singer/songwriter and is credited on over 20 blockbuster video game soundtracks and scores.
Ashburn currently resides in Santa Ynez, California with her husband and her beloved dog, Blue.
Adelman Fine Art is pleased to represent Aubrey Ashburn and share her talent with collectors worldwide.
Q & A Interview:
AFA: When did you realize you wanted to be a professional painter?
AUBREY: The arts in general have always been a focal point in my life, however, I didn’t feel the desire to pursue visual art professionally until I found my calling to help save endangered species. I remember the day it happened, my best friend had just returned from Africa and was telling me about her experience with orphaned baby elephants in Kenya and about the work The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is doing to protect them against poachers. I’d always had an affinity towards elephants, but when I left our lunch date, the call to action was more than clear and on the walk back to my car, I serendipitously saw elephant images everywhere, further driving the message home. I was so inspired and painted a 36×24 of what they call a “big tusker” bull elephant. It really blew the lid off my creativity and I felt like I had a million art babies that were just begging to be born!
The following year my husband and I visited DSWT in Kenya and as I transitioned my career from singer/songwriter in the video game world, I found an outlet donating my singing voice to many DSWT rescue film and documentary scores that have subsequently been used around the world to promote awareness of the situation.
AFA: What is the last thing you Googled?
AUBREY: Ironically, I googled “what does raccoon poop look like”……and I have a totally reasonable explanation for this! Ha! Living on a farm, one must become keen on what different animal feces looks like as a way to track mysterious situations that occur in the country, including continuing to find small dog sized poop on my second story bedroom balcony.
AFA: As a wildlife conservationist, what do you think is the number one thing you’d like to relay to our readers? (What can they do to help the cause?)
AUBREY: If I could impart one message to readers, it would be, if you’ve always appreciated animals and the natural world, I encourage you to take the next step in furthering your involvement though action. Whether that means researching more about something that concerns you and sharing it with friends, donating to a vetted non-profit, planning a trip to an area of interest, or fostering an orphaned elephant for only $50/year through DSWT.org. Any action you take is bound to deepen your connection and understanding, which is what’s required of society for things to change. I think it’s important to just do something, which will likely lead to something else. It can be truly rewarding and fulfilling to get involved.
AFA: Of all your travels, what has been your favorite trip and why?
AUBREY: By far the most unforgettable experience I had was in Africa! In all my travels, none can compare with the profound sense of home and origin that Africa instilled. Scientists now know without a shadow of a doubt, that all humans evolved out of the African continent. The experience of interacting with orphaned elephant babies, ranging from 3 months to 3 years old, can never be matched. Seeing that these incredibly smart emotional beings, who witnessed their families being slaughtered by people, could be so forgiving, trusting and loving to mere strangers, was profound!! The other remarkable gift we gave ourselves was observing mountain gorillas in Rwanda. I’ve never felt so fiercely humbled and thrilled ever in my life. Briefly exchanging glances, you can sense their intelligence, and proof that we share 98% of DNA with them.
AFA: You are at dinner….who (alive or not) is at the table?
AUBREY: Frida Kahlo, Georgia O’Keefe, Vincent Van Gogh, Edward Degas, Henri Matisse, Paul Gaugin, Gustav Klimt, Carl Sagan, Dian Fossey, Stephen Hawking, Martin Luther King Jr., Rumi, YoYo Ma, Maya Angelou, Daphne & David Sheldrick, Barack Obama & choreographer Alexander Ekman.
AFA: Being a singer/songwriter for hit video games, such as the Dragon Age series, Rift, Avatar, Alice In Wonderland, and more, which did you enjoy working on the most and why?
AUBREY: The Dragon Age series was by far the most rewarding in terms of collaboration and creative freedom. I collaborated on eight songs/themes between the two games and was given liberties to write lyrics in an idiosyncratic language, which was made up of Elvin and Gaelic sounds. It was so much fun to use the sounds to create something melodic and singable, and created a mysterious sounding language. I get online requests all the time to translate the lyrics for people but that’s not possible because it’s a fake language. They are left with emotional indications to form their own interpretation.
AFA: When you aren’t painting, what do you like to do to relax and unwind?
AUBREY: When I’m not painting, my thirst for creativity plays out through architectural and interior design. I have this never-ending desire to improve & evolve whatever current home I’m in, whether that means rearranging furniture, changing a paint color or designing some small remodel project. Oh yeah, you asked about relaxing, LOL, yoga, walks with Blue, my Australian shepherd, and watching movies all fall in that category!
AFA: In regards to your artwork, how would you like to be remembered?
AUBREY: This is a huge question. As our population expands exponentially and our cities spread, I hope my artwork would be remembered for it’s healing qualities, but most importantly, for inspiring change in the hearts of people to alter the trajectory we’re on globally and protect and preserve our Earth and all it’s wildlife!
AFA: Being such an animal lover, what would you say is your spirit animal?
AUBREY: I took a test online and came up with a Tiger, which is interesting, but I have always resonated with Cheetah’s, and felt that if I was to be any animal, that’s what I would be.
AFA: If you could have any piece in the current collection showing at Adelman, what would it be?
AUBREY: Oh that’s easy! I’m a huge fan of Iris Scott so any opportunity to have one of her originals would be amazing! I love The Diver with it’s cool color palette! Very thought provoking.
“Since learning about the growing elephant and rhino-poaching crisis and visiting Africa in 2014, I have been deeply inspired to express my love for animals through art. I am a wildlife activist and conservationist, using art as a cathartic expression and a cornerstone talking point for the growing movement. Through this passion I have found great joy in honoring them and other wildlife through vivid color and emotion.
I work from photographs, using them to hone my anatomical sketches. Creating a unique composition with soft charcoal, I then rub the charcoal lines away and begin painting in the darkest of shadows, and work my way to white from there. Painting wet on wet, I strive for realism in form but allow for abstraction within the shape, through a hyper-realized contrast and expression of color.
Painting for me, is wildlife preservation in action, when donating money to a cause often leaves me still feeling helpless. Each time I study a new animal; my appreciation for it grows, and energetically the healing starts there. I hope that my work highlights for the seer, the beauty and heart of these remarkable beings, bringing us all back to nature, where true healing is possible.” ~Aubrey Ashburn
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