Q+A with Thomas Ashman

Thomas Ashman is a mixed media artist living in New Mexico who will be teaching at the Community Creative Center in Fort Collins, CO July 7-8-9, 2017. You can sign up for his workshops with early bird pricing by June 18. Final registration is July 1.

How many hours a day do you work on your art? Depends on the day, but I can go from sunup to sundown if motivated. It’s important to get in there daily, even if only for a few minutes to avoid stagnation.

Tell us about your studio practice. Lots of projects in-progress at any given time. Alternating periods of extreme tidiness followed by visions of the apocalypse. Loud 1980’s heavy metal music. Coffee… lots of coffee!

What’s your favorite new-to-you tool or supply from the past year? PLASTI DIP®

What 5 items do you always have with you when taking or teaching a workshop? My toolbox, my skeleton apron, my bifocal safety glasses, a bunch of my “go-to” supplies, and a triple-shot white chocolate mocha.

Do you make art on the go? Tell us about your “go bag”. My thing is pretty tool intensive, so I am really quite stationary more often than not. However, I find inspiration around every corner, so in a sense, I am always “working” on my art when I am out and about, whether it be collecting ideas (and all sorts of supplies wherever I may find them, of course) not so much actually “making” art on the go.

Who are some of your favorite artists, living or otherwise?

What’s your favorite work of your own? Will you share a photo? Sorry. Really don’t have one. Each piece is it’s own experience, unique unto itself.

What’s your ideal workshop student? Someone who is courageous enough to make huge mistakes and try again, and understands the need to practice, sometimes over and over, any new techniques before demanding too much of themselves.

What makes for a great day in a workshop you’re teaching? Everyone having a good time, making new friends, and expanding one another’s artistic horizons. A yummy lunch always adds to my enjoyment too… especially when we all sit down, relax for a while, and swap a few stories and laughs.

What’s your favorite part about teaching workshops? I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I learn so much and get so many great ideas from students, I should probably pay them for the workshop. That is the selfish reason I love teaching, but I also just love seeing a student taking pride in their accomplishments, especially after having doubts about their abilities… Watching a new artist blossom is my favorite part of being a teacher.

If a student is new to the type of work you do, what would you tell him or her before registering for your workshop? Don’t be scared. What’s the worst that could happen? (laughing mischievously)

If you’ve taught in Northern CO before, what’s your favorite thing about teaching here? The scenery, definitely. I am hoping to get in some kayaking while there…any suggestions?

When you visit NoCo, do you have any special shops where you like to stop in and browse? I am always on a quest for cool junk, old vinyl LP’s, black jackets… and the perfect white chocolate mocha.

What should a new-to-you artist expect from one of your workshops? Expect to laugh, learn, and make a friend (if you want one, that is). Also, expect me to be kind of unusual… but in a cute way.

Of the workshops you’re teaching this year, which is your favorite? Which do you predict will be our favorite? The Glass Journal is the one that started it all for me, so it will always hold a dear place in my heart, but predicting anything in this life of mine has proven to be quite futile.

Do you have any surprises in store? Can you give us a hint? What happens when burning propane, chemicals, and metal are thrust together?

How do you differentiate your work and your teaching style from that of other instructor artists who do similar things (i.e., other fiber art teachers, other assemblage artists)? I have never had any trouble standing out from the crowd. In fact, my “non-conformist” side has been a real problem at times.

Do you still have the first piece of art you ever made? What do you think when you look at it? Yes. My mother saved it in my scrapbook for me. It is entitled “man” and looks nothing whatsoever like a man. It makes me think of how fortunate I am to have grown up in a home where creativity and individuality were not only encouraged, but expected.

What do you wish I had asked you in this interview? Fewer questions.

What’s your favorite word? Mocha

When you’re not making art or teaching, what do you do for fun? Outdoor stuff… camping, kayaking, hiking, etc. Watching zombie movies and TV shows, eating ice cream, reading, listening to and playing music, and hanging with my dear, sweet lady Leighanna.


Photos on this page are representative of Thomas’ work. See samples for this July’s workshops.

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