It’s Friday and time for…yes, another answer to the question: What painting—either a master/historical piece or a contemporary work— or artist has made the most impact on you? And why or how?  Michele Ashby says it’s all about Andrew Wyeth!

Here she is to tell you all about Wyeth’s influence and impact on her work.



I have come to this incredible life of being an artist a bit later than most (just seven years ago at 53), so I feel that my knowledge of Fine Art/Artists is sketchy, to say the least. There is so much to look at, read, learn, and devour that I often feel on the back foot when it comes to answering this kind of question.

But where I stand right now at this stage of my artistic development I would have to say that I feel the work of Andrew Wyeth has had the most profound impact on me. I get totally lost in his meticulous attention to detail as well as his interesting perspective which can often feel quite foreboding. But most compelling for me is how he always creates such a spellbinding narrative.


Michele Ashby, "60," pastel
Michele Ashby, “60,” pastel.


“I paint for myself within the tenets of my own upbringing and my standards.”

This quote from Andrew Wyeth resonates so true to my beliefs and moral compass as an artist and I often find myself rereading it in moments of uncertainty and needing guidance.


Andrew Wyeth, "Braids," 1977, tempura, 41.9 x 52.1 cm (16 1/2 x 20 1/2 in), Seattle Art Museum
Andrew Wyeth, “Braids,” 1977, tempera, 41.9 x 52.1 cm (16 1/2 x 20 1/2 in), Seattle Art Museum.


Possibly my favourite painting by Wyeth is Braids. I adore everything about this portrait of Wyeth’s model Helga. From the tiniest detail where every thread of wool is captured in his immaculate representation of the woollen garment, to those fine wisps of flyaway hair strands catching the light and adding movement to this exquisite masterpiece; everything is so carefully and delicately considered. The stark dark background colour does a wonderful job of accentuating the features of her face which is suggestive of a contemplative mood, pushing her face forward up and out of the polo neck and firmly in front of the viewer all whilst giving a sense of tranquillity.


Michele Ashby, "A Quiet Storm," pastel - painting related to Braids by Andrew Wyeth
Michele Ashby, “A Quiet Storm,” pastel.


My painting A Quiet Storm is a definite nod to Wyeth’s Braids. I have tried to capture the softness and comfort of my sitter’s favourite jumper. Also, note the 3/4 pose to the left along with the carefree tousled hair, strands surreptitiously capturing the light adding a sense of movement to this pose. By keeping to a limited palette, I feel I’ve added a further element in wanting to pay homage to the painting I love so much.


Michele Ashby, "Age is a Privilege," pastel
Michele Ashby, “Age is a Privilege,” pastel.


I’ve produced a series of three self-portraits from various angles over the last year or so, feeling mindful to keep that integrity and candour about my age and how that shows in my features and hair. I wanted them to be almost a visual diary of my ageing self – wanting to capture a penetrating inner sense of acceptance and honesty whilst not shying from the tumultuous changes occurring during the menopausal stage of my life.


Michele Ashby, "Pause," pastel, 10 x 10 in.
Michele Ashby, “Pause,” pastel, 10 x 10 in.


One of these self-portraits, Pause, was exhibited in this year’s IAPS 8th Master Circle Division 

Here’s Richard McKinley’s verbatim critique of my painting:

“Work can move us in two ways. There are paintings and Wyeth is a bit like this for me where their imagery, what their subject matter is and what they choose to use moves us. You think of Wyeth’s Christina’s World with the window and the curtain and Michele making a choice here, the slightly ageing beautiful woman, the hand, the looking up, the eyes closed and then to choose to only do it in black and white, it’s so intriguing. Now she obviously can do anything she wants with pastel but it’s not the mark-making, it’s not the bold use of colour – those things are glorious in somebody else’s hand – it’s the image that makes you stop and pause and then having the ability to read the artist’s purpose, you start connecting the dots. So I encourage you to take a moment and read that.”

Wyeth quotes from Hamlet which is a fantastic guide for me: “He tells the players not to exaggerate but to hold a mirror up to nature. Don’t overdo it, don’t underdo it. Do it just on the line.”



Ohhhh don’t you love seeing the connection between the work of Andrew Wyeth and Michele Ashby? You can see it can’t you?

Thank you so much Michele for sharing this influence on you!



The Pastel Society of New Hampshire Exhibition is now online!


Here’s inspiration galore! 

Previously only an in-person exhibition, I was so pleased to see that this show (for which I was honoured to be the Juror of Selection) is now online for us all to enjoy. 

Award Juror Alain Picard and I were unanimous in our choice for Best of Show – Time To Go by Allison Krajcik.


Allison Krajcik, "Time To Go," pastel, 18 x 13 in. - Best of show
Allison Krajcik, “Time To Go,” pastel, 18 x 13 in. – Best of show.


Alain Picard shared these wonderful words about this winning piece:

“Great art makes us feel strongly. This painting aches with feelings of coming to the end of something. The way the stalks of these dying flowers rise into the picture plane framed by airy negative space. Krajcik has created a grand and powerful image. The warm golds and pale whites against rich blue gradations of sky keep the palette focused and the mood poignant. The wispy edges and textural elements are beautifully described to bring depth, intimacy, and interest to this grouping. A cluster of terrestrial shapes, like an endangered species, release their petals in a final voyage onward. What an accomplishment to imbue the work with such emotion.” 

And that’s it for this time!



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