Brigid Ashwood

Becoming an Artist

"I don't recall making a conscious decision to become an artist. It was just innate." -Brigid Ashwood, artist

“Becoming a working artist, deciding to attempt to make a living doing this thing I love, that was a conscious decision. I'd say I'm lucky that I was a young adult when the Internet first started changing how we communicate, and commerce in general. My first website allowed me to interact directly with art fans, potential customers and manufacturers. That was eye opening, and gave me hope that I could pursue an art career my way, the way I wanted, rather than following a pre-defined path that had been encouraged in art school. With the Internet we can bypass gatekeepers and elitism and can forge the career we want. So yeah, I guess that sense of freedom is what inspired me.

At the moment, she’s working on a series of fantasy paintings that she’ll be incorporating into a number of projects. The inspiration for the series is the symbolism of Tarot cards. Brigid is creating paintings featuring fairies and fantasy creatures, with Celtic knotwork, magical, gothic and art nouveau influences. Each piece is carefully composed using a template she’s designed that allows the images to be cropped successfully for different products for a variety of manufacturers.

For instance the same image could be successful in a square aspect for say a decorative tile, but also cropped into a rectangle for t-shirts, or removed from its background for stickers etc. It took her years before she figured out this was a great way to work. Now everything she paints using this template is very versatile, which is great when you’re working with manufacturers and licensing. Work smarter, not harder!

It’s hard for her to pick just one favorite part of the project, but she’s already started her own publishing company and it has been incredibly rewarding as an ongoing venture.

Through Ashwood Arts, Brigid has published not only her own projects such as coloring books and journals, but also those of her fellow artists.They've published art oracle decks (similar to Tarot) forrenownedfantasy artists such as Amy Brown, Jane Starr Weils, Meredith Dillman and Ruth Thompson. They trusted her with their art and they have produced some fantastic work together. Naturally she’s publishing her own projects as well, but she really enjoys helping fellow artists to see their projects come to life. In addition, she also enjoys working directly with manufacturers, especially jewelry and figurine design.

What does a typical day look like for this artist:

“I try to wake up early, about 6:00am so that I have a longer work day. (I don't always succeed). Mornings are devoted to fulfilling orders ( I sell my work online through Amazon, Etsy and my own website) and answering emails, returning phone calls, etc. Afternoons are devoted to creative work such as painting and writing. I try to take evenings and weekends off. That said, I have my Macbook Pro and a Wacom Cintiq set up in our living room so that I can binge watch TV with my husband and daughter, and paint at the same time!”

Brigid uses Painter at every stage of creating, whether she’s painting digitally or traditionally.

“I use Painter to experiment with the layout of my compositions, placing any reference images in a mock up. I'll then sketch with Painter's amazing sketching tools (I particularly like Scratchboard Pen). After my sketch is tightened up into a drawing, I use Painter to experiment with colorways, to see which combination I prefer. Then I start painting with my favorite brushes, the oil pastels and a selection of other brushes that I feel best suit the look I'm going for.

I use Painter's mirror and kaleidoscope tools regularly to help me in the creation of patterns and designs that I incorporate into my paintings. These tools are perfect for fabric pattern design and even Celtic Knotwork.

If painting traditionally, I work the same, fleshing out the image in Painter until I feel it's ready to move to paper or canvas. This gives me the tremendous freedom to change the painting and experiment until the last second, something that is nearly impossible with traditional mediums.”

To date, her favorite Painter tool is Mirror/Kaleidoscope because it makes the creation of patterns, knotwork and mandalas so incredibly effortless and infinitely fun. Brigid has designed three published coloring books (about 150 images) in Corel Painter and said every design was a blast!

Brigid gives sage advice to up-and-coming artists: “Go your own way. Carve out the career you want. Don't follow a particular path based on someone else's influence. You can have the career you want, your way, if you are willing to do the work.

For instance I have a lot of different artistic styles, and pursue projects with a diverse group of companies. I've been told many times I should stick to one thing, that fans of my art wouldn't understand that I paint both Pin-up and Celtic Knotwork.

Thank goodness I've ignored that advice because the fans of my art like me because of that quality, not in spite of it. And my ability to paint a variety of genres, in a variety of styles, has only been an asset when working with clients.”

Learn more about Brigid and her artwork: