Ashley Kunz isn’t afraid to try new things, especially when it comes to art.
The local artist, who works from her home studio in Moorhead, only began making art four years ago. She first tried painting when she saw a picture on Pinterest and asked herself, “Can I paint?”
The short answer: Absolutely.
Kunz is the featured artist at Drekker Brewing Company for the next two months. The brewery decided to hang local art in its space in order to create a more casual atmosphere outside museums and galleries to exhibit local artwork, said Mark Bjornstad, one of the owners of Drekker. “We offered our space as a place to support local art and make it more approachable,” he said.
The artist reception for Ashley Kunz will be at Drekker from 6 – 8 p.m. this Thursday.
Drekker first did an art exhibition for the FMVA Constraint Show in October, but Ashley Kunz is the first solo exhibition in its gallery.
For Kunz, what began as a Pinterest inspiration slowly blossomed into a creative, opportunistic endeavor for the last four years. When she is not working at her job at NDSU or spending time with her husband and 8-year-old daughter, Kunz is in her basement studio trying new techniques with whatever tools she can get her hands on. Pizza cutters, tape, sponges, foil, string… “I use everything,” she said. “I like to play around with a lot of different things.”
Upon walking into her studio in her basement that she calls “Autumn In December,” I was greeted with two walls full of of neon pink, green, yellow, and blue paintings that ironically reminded me of spring.
Kunz said she prefers to use bright, happy colors in her work, but her paintings often reflect what is happening in her life at the time. They also reflect what is inspiring her: Nature, people and emotions are her major influences. “Other artists inspire me, too,” she added. “Seeing what they’re doing, if they’re doing another technique… it’s always worth trying out,” she said. “We’ve got to learn from each other.”
A technique Kunz utilizes that she came across online is called “alcohol ink.” With this technique, she drops alcohol-based ink onto a plastic-covered paper and then sprays regular household rubbing alcohol on the paint to produce a colorful, painted glass effect, as seen in the featured image and below:
This is only one example of the many ways Kunz explores her artistic abilities. Her innovative spirit and creative talent have brought Kunz a long way in a short amount of time.
In June 2015, she made a worldwide breakthrough when she was selected as a Diamond Artist by the global paint brand Liquitex. The brand held a contest as part of its 60th anniversary, and artists entered the contest by posting a photo of their artwork on Facebook or Instagram and tagging it with #Liquitex60th.
Kunz, with her positive “why not?” attitude, posted a photo of her work and won. Liquitex wrote a feature article about her and featured her artwork on both their website and social media for the next month.
“I honestly cried when I got the email from them telling me they picked me,” Kunz said. She was surprised she won because she’s a fairly new artist and abstract paintings aren’t chosen often. “People think [abstract art] is easy because it doesn’t take skill like painting a portrait of somebody,” she said.
One of the best parts, Kunz said, was winning a box of free acrylic Liquitex paint.
The competition also gave Kunz worldwide recognition, an increase in painting sales, and opportunities. For example, she received an email from a gallery in London asking her to submit a painting for an abstract show. “People contact me from all over the world,” she said. Although she declined due to the expense of shipping a painting, she is grateful for the opportunities that come forth as a result of the Liquitex competition.
For more information on Ashley Kunz, visit www.mnartists.org/ashley-kunz or her Facebook page, “Ashley Kunz – Autumn in December.” She is also on Etsy.