What do you do and how can I find it?
I draw what I like to call contemporary iconography—deeply human portraits with biblical imagery and plenty of razzle-dazzle. I also love to paint embellished verses from scripture. I have a website displaying my work (www.ashleylande.com) and have an upcoming exhibition opening May 28th at the Hutchinson Arts Center in Hutchinson, KS just in case anyone is swinging through the midwest!
How did you get started?
My dad was a commercial interior designer and my childhood home was filled with all sorts of fascinating art, furniture and architectural elements, so I had an interest in the potential of art to evoke deep feelings and breathe beauty from a young age. I was sort of artsy in high school, and in young adulthood had my first solo show in Kansas City which consisted mostly of drug-fueled ink drawings. I became dependent on psychedelic drugs to “fuel” my creativity, yet I didn’t find my authentic voice artistically until I encountered Jesus Christ and became free from my addictions. I didn’t know what true beauty was until I met Jesus.
What is the coolest story you have about doing what you do?
About nine years ago I had the opportunity to participate in a show in Los Angeles that was completely paid for by the Toyota Scion brand. Another artist I had connected with online was the curator and asked me to be a part of the show. Airfare and accommodations were completely paid for and the exhibitors were from all over—Seattle, LA, England, Australia. The company allowed us to fly out a week early for installation (I didn’t really need that much time but wasn’t going to say no!) and my husband and I had an absolute blast. Our son was just a year old at the time and my husband would walk all around LA while I was working on painting my installation. We made great friends with whom we’re still in touch—I feel so blessed to have had that experience. Also, about six or seven years ago Cat Power posted one of my drawings on her Instagram feed. That would have been insanely thrilling to my sixteen-year-old self who listened to “Moon Pix” on repeat and it was still pretty darn exciting for my thirty-year-old self!
Who is your biggest inspiration for your art?
I absolutely love Caravaggio, Jan Van Eyck, Hieronymous Bosch, and Gustave Dore. On the more modern front, because I love portraits so much, I adore Swoon and Kehinde Wiley. I love Pip and Pop for their mind-blowingly bright and colorful installations. I also really love folk or outsider artists like the Original Rhinestone Cowboy, Prophet Isaiah Robertson and Kansas’s own M.T. Liggett. My dad passed away in 2018 but he will forever be a huge inspiration and influence for me artistically. Also, obviously, and most importantly, Jesus Christ, God the Father and the Holy Spirit, from whom all creativity and true beauty flows. I love the word of God and love to borrow imagery from it.
If you could give someone advice for doing what you do, what would you say?
I would say follow your interests and passions. I had a teacher in high school who told me that drawing from pictures does not constitute “real” art. I’m sure my teacher didn’t realize this offhand comment would have a lasting negative effect on me, but it did. I let it hang over my head for a long time as a scolding reminder that I was not a “real” artist, but that’s a lie. I love to achieve as fine a detail as I’m able and with my near-sightedness, drawing from life just can’t do that for me. Many voices will try to derail you from the utterly unique expression God instilled in you, but there is only one Voice to which you need to listen. Follow his voice and what interests you as an artist, not what is trendy or whatever other people seem to be doing. As George McDonald said, there is an aspect of the glory of God only you can portray—“a chamber in God himself, into which none can enter but the one, the individual, the peculiar man—out of which chamber that man has to bring revelation and strength for his brethren. This is that for which he was made—to reveal the secret things of the Father.” God has given you a unique gift to give the body of Christ—nourish it, cultivate it, give it.
Also, make artist friends, not in a gross obnoxious social-climbing aggressive-networking way, but just talk to people whose work you like. Besides actually doing the work, the most important factor in getting invited to be in shows and being offered other opportunities to show your work is having friends who share your interests and do creative work in your field.