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Inside the Studio: Ashley Rose Webster

Ashley Rose Webster is an abstract artist based in New York and England. Her admiration for music and literature has driven her to translate responses into vibrant paintings. She utilizes the interplay of color and brushstrokes to capture the essence of melodies and text on canvas.


“It’s about capturing the lyrical gestures of music—the euphoria and the melancholy. Throughout my work, I’ve noticed how my play with color and shape often echoes the ethereal beauty of the Aurora Borealis or the vastness of outer space. I embrace this serendipitous connection, as it reflects the transformative power of music.”

Love Itself, 2024, oil on canvas, 28x22 inches, abstract painting

Read on to learn more in an exclusive interview with Ashley Rose Webster :

 

1. Can you describe the moment or experience that first inspired you to translate music into your paintings?


I've always been inspired by music. During my studies, I discovered commentaries on synesthesia, the ability to merge senses, where some people can "see" sounds. While exploring this, I found a poem by French poet Arthur Rimbaud. In the first line of his sonnet, "A noir, E blanc, I rouge, U vert, O bleu: voyelles," Rimbaud assigns colors to different vowels. This concept of synesthesia goes beyond what his predecessor Charles Baudelaire did, as Baudelaire created detailed lists of sensory connections. According to Baudelaire, every color, sound, smell, emotion, and visual image has an equivalent in each of the other senses. While his system works like synesthesia metaphorically, it doesn’t mean he had a rare neuropsychological condition. Instead, Baudelaire’s system is based on the associations that words evoke. This idea inspired me to translate my musical passions into my art by using my understanding of color and emotion to evoke meaning in my paintings.


Rimbaud’s Vowels, 2018, oil on canvas, 20x20 inches, abstract painting

2. How do you choose the songs that you paint, and what is your process for translating the auditory experience into visual art?


When choosing the songs I paint, the selection is often very spontaneous and reflective of my current state of mind. This approach allows me to share how music profoundly influences my life, providing a snapshot of where I am at any given moment. I aim to connect my eclectic musical tastes with a broad audience, finding common ground in the universal language of music. Each element of the song influences the colors, shapes, and textures I use, transforming sound into a vibrant visual expression. This method ensures that my paintings not only reflect the essence of the music but also resonate with viewers on a deep, emotional level.


Bloom, 2024, oil on canvas, 20x24 inches, Abstract Painting

3. Your work is characterised by the use of distorted sound wave shapes. Can you explain how you develop these patterns and their significance in your art?


In my artwork, the use of distorted sound wave shapes is both a creative and deliberate process. It begins with immersing myself in the music that I intend to translate onto canvas. As I listen, I focus on the intricate dance of the layered and distorted sound waves that characterize the song. This auditory experience guides my hand, transforming what I hear into visual patterns. The development of these patterns involves an abstract interpretation of the music. I use the ebb and flow of the sound waves as a blueprint for my brushstrokes, allowing the rhythm and melody to dictate the movement and direction of the paint. This method captures the dynamic energy of the song, embodying its essence through a visual medium. The significance of these distorted sound wave shapes in my art lies in their ability to convey the emotional and sensory experience of music. Each shape represents a specific element of the song—whether it's the pulse of the bass, the rise and fall of a vocal melody, or the complexity of an instrumental solo. By translating these auditory components into visual form, I aim to create a synesthetic experience for the viewer, where they can almost "see" the music.


Phoenix, 2024, oil on canvas, 22x28 inches, abstract painting

4. How do you decide on the colors you use in your paintings, and how do they relate to the emotions and energy of the music you are interpreting?


When deciding on the colors for my paintings, I let the emotions and energy of the music guide me. Each song has a unique mood and intensity, which I translate into my color choices. For example, a lively, upbeat song might inspire bright, vibrant colors, while a melancholic melody might evoke deeper, more subdued tones.


Sound and Vision, 2024, oil on canvas, 24x20 inches, abstract painting

5. Can you discuss your use of thick paint application and how it contributes to the movement and texture in your work?


The use of thick paint application in my work is essential for conveying the movement and texture that bring my paintings to life. By applying paint generously, I can create a sense of depth and dynamism that mirrors the layered and distorted sound waves of the music I aim to capture. The texture created by the heavy application of paint enhances the visual representation of sound waves, making the painting more immersive and engaging. It gives the artwork a three-dimensional aspect, emphasising the movement inherent in the music.

This Ain’t a Scene, 2024, oil on canvas, 20x20 inches, abstract painting

6. How do you balance the abstract elements of your paintings with the intention to capture specific musical experiences?


My goal is to create a visual representation that evokes the same feelings and sensations as the music. By blending abstract shapes with intentional color choices and textured brushwork, I strive to capture the essence of each musical experience while allowing the viewer to interpret and connect with the painting in their own unique way. Balancing the abstract elements of my paintings with the intention to capture specific musical experiences involves a harmonious blend of intuition and deliberate technique. I start by immersing myself in the music, allowing its rhythms, melodies, and emotional undertones to guide my creative process. This deep connection with the music sets the foundation for my abstract interpretation.

White Rabbit, 2024, oil on canvas, 24x20 inches

7. Many have noted a resemblance between your work and natural phenomena like the Aurora Borealis or outer space. How do you feel about this comparison, and do you find it influences your work?


I find the comparison between my work and natural phenomena like the Aurora Borealis or outer space very inspiring. These comparisons highlight the transformative and transportive power of music, which is exactly what I aim to capture in my paintings. Just as the Aurora Borealis or the vast expanses of outer space can evoke a sense of wonder and transcendence, I strive to create artwork that resonates deeply and transports viewers to another realm. This serendipitous connection does influence my work, as it reinforces the idea that music, much like these natural phenomena, has the ability to take us beyond our immediate reality and into a more expansive, emotional space. It encourages me to continue exploring the interplay of color, intensity, and movement in my paintings, pushing the boundaries of how I represent the auditory experience visually.


Studio in California

8. Music can evoke a wide range of emotions, from euphoria to melancholy. How do you approach capturing these varying emotional tones in your art?


When beginning a painting, I focus on three main aspects: color, paint application, and shape. I use color to reflect the emotional tone of the music. Bright, vibrant colors like reds and yellows might be used to express joy and euphoria, while deeper, more subdued tones like blues and purples capture feelings of melancholy and introspection. The specific hues are chosen to resonate with the song’s mood. The way I apply paint is also crucial. Energetic, sweeping brushstrokes can convey excitement and movement, while softer, more fluid strokes can evoke a sense of calm or sadness. The thick application of paint adds texture, enhancing the emotional impact by giving the piece a tactile quality. The distinctive sound wave shapes in my paintings are inspired by the song’s rhythm and melody. These abstract forms help to visualize the dynamic nature of the music. For a song with a fast, upbeat tempo, the waves might be sharp and angular, while a slower, more melancholic piece might feature smoother, more flowing shapes.

John, I’m Only Dancing, 2023, oil on canvas, 9x12 inches, abstract painting

Studio in California

9. How has your style evolved over time, and are there any new techniques or themes you are exploring in your current work?


My style has evolved significantly over time, shaped by my ongoing exploration of the intersection between music and visual art. Initially, my focus was primarily on capturing the raw energy and emotion of music through vibrant colors and dynamic brushstrokes. As I continued to develop my technique, I began to incorporate more intricate patterns inspired by the layered and distorted sound waves of specific songs, which has become a hallmark of my work. Recently, I’ve been experimenting with new techniques further to deepen the connection between auditory and visual experiences. One of these techniques involves the use of mixed media to add more texture and depth to my paintings. By incorporating materials such as ink, paper, and even digital elements, I aim to create a richer, more immersive experience that reflects the complexity of musical compositions.

Celebration, 2024, oil on paper, 10x10 inches, Abstract Painting

10. What are you currently working on, and are there any upcoming projects or exhibitions you are excited about?


I recently moved back to London and am excited to look into opportunities to exhibit here soon. Currently, I’m working on a collection inspired by the 80s. It’s been a fun way to incorporate more vivid colors and introduce a new palette into my work.


Bizarre Love Triangle, 2023, oil on Canvas, 20x20 inches, abstract painting

 

You can learn more about Ashley Rose Webster and his work via these links: Website: https://ashroseblog.squarespace.com/ Instagram: ashrosestudio Artsy: https://www.artsy.net/artist/ashley-webster

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