Offbeat Art

By Ashley McIsaac

So I don’t know if any of you know of a wonderful cafe called Blackbird. They promote artwork of local artists monthly here which I think is so great. For the month of July they featured Ashley McIsaac’s paintings. Anyways, I go here to work occasionally and one day I came across her artwork on the walls. I thought, I have to find the artist of these beautiful paintings and contact her to see if she’s interested in being featured for Creative Leaders. I met Ashley and she was such a pleasure to chat with and get to know. Her work and her inspirations behind each piece she does are truly unique and special. In the interview below you will have a good understanding of her process behind each piece of artwork and how she came to start her business here in Edmonton as a local abstract artist. Enjoy!

Tell us a little about yourself and your business.

My love for art started at a young age, with my interest in colours and creativity being shared by my grandmother. It wasn’t until adulthood that I truly understood the incredible gift of inspiration that she shared with me. Different life experiences and an ongoing journey through depression & anxiety have played a role in my artistic journey, making painting a passionate outlet that transforms into abstract visions and bold colours.

Raised in Camrose, Alberta, I spent my childhood and teenage years mostly drawing and colouring. In my senior year of high school, it was my first acrylic on canvas painting assignment that lit a fire in my soul, thus starting an ongoing journey of self discovery through intuitive art. Within a few years, I started to create paintings for my family and friends, which led to displaying and selling my work through a local merchant and the Camrose Art Walk.

Since moving to my new home of Spruce Grove in 2014, my journey of personal growth has been a winding road, with many lessons to be learned. I am ready to take a leap of faith and put myself and my art out there.

Using acrylics and mixed media, my style is abstract and intuitive by nature, with bold colours and endless possibilities. The main component involved in my painting process is music. Listening to music has always been a part of my life and I express the emotions/messages from music using shapes and colour, rather than words. Using a variety of music and colour choices results in a different painting experience every time. I enjoy music of many varieties and have learned that it is impossible for me to only like one genre.

Free-flowing and unplanned, my work always begins with a blank canvas. My creative process starts out as intuitive (trusting the brush) and takes on a direction at some point, leading to the addition of detail work to pull the painting together. This creates a truly unique experience and outcome for every painting when combined with music.

How did your business get started?

Although I have painted sporadically over the past 10 years, I never took it seriously until the spring of 2017. I had decided that I wanted to take up sewing and put an ad on a Facebook buy and & sell group in search of a used sewing machine. A local woman contacted me to let me know that she had a sewing machine in her closet collecting dust and was curious if I might be interested.

When I asked her how much money she was asking for it, she had no idea what a fair price would be. Out of curiosity, I asked her if she might be in the market for some artwork, and if she would perhaps wants to do a trade. After showing her some examples of past work, she loved the idea and ended up offering me a trade plus cash (so I was thrilled!) I wasn’t really sure what she was looking for, so I simply asked her if she had a favourite type of music to listen to, as well as a few colours choices.

I created her custom painting while listening to her choice of music (country), and using some of the colours that she chose. I always listened to music while I painted, but it never clicked in until this point as to exactly what my painting process was. This is how Offbeat Art was born, with the idea of creating abstract intuitive art inspired by music.

This is how Offbeat Art was born, with the idea of creating abstract intuitive art inspired by music.

What inspires you?

Would it be too obvious to say ‘music’? *laughs*

Art allows me to show a part of myself that is hard to express through words, so having it as a creative outlet continues to inspire me to create, try new things, and meet amazing people in the process.

Another huge inspiration for me is my grandmother who passed away last year. I think she would be so happy to see me doing what I love and giving it my all – her memory helps fuel the creative fire in my soul.

What dreams or goals are you working towards with your business?

I always have little goals in mind with my artwork/business, but my hope over the course of the next 2-3 years is to make more of a name for myself in the Edmonton area and to collaborate in unique ways with local creatives and businesses, as well as have more opportunities to paint live with local bands/musicians.

Do you have any advice to give to someone starting out in the same industry?

Own your uniqueness and use it to your advantage. There is no one else in the world like you, so bring all of your amazing qualities to the table!

Having a small business as a visual artist is about so much more than just making art and listing it for sale. Use your other skills and talents to find ways to make lasting connections with people.

What are three fun facts about yourself or your business?

I often dance while I am painting, so if you ever watch me live painting in person or online, you might see me bust a move (But I never said I was any good!)

My past work experience is in administration, with a focus in automotive service writing.

The name ‘Offbeat Art’ was inspired by two things: painting off the beat/music, and my mom saying from a young age that I walk to the beat of my own drum.

Where can people find you online?