Ashlea Bechaz’s warm and folkloric body of work is just what I like… Tiny details and magickal characters that look like they are from the future past! Check them out while Bechaz lets us in on her busy artist life and relationship with creativity.
Please tell us a little about yourself and your artistic background.
I am a Melbourne based artist. I’m originally from the Mornington Peninsula but since moved closer to the city. I have been drawing my entire life. As a child I suffered from quite a bad case of social anxiety and so I found myself planted firmly in front of a television watching my favourite cartoons with a sketchbook handy, playing my Nintendo or nose deep in an epic fantasy novel. These were my escapes from my over active mind and allowed me to redirect the energy into something more creative. Whether it was character design, costume design or stories of adventure in foreign lands, I would always have my sketchbook and pencils at the ready. Even today when I am feeling very anxious all I need to do is go back to my drawing and I am taken to another land.
During high school I studied at McClelland art gallery on the Peninsula where I was taught traditional drawing and painting skills. After high school I studied Illustration at TAFE, which is much smaller than a University/College and I found it a lot less intimidating and more hands-on. 8 years on and my favourite teacher still emails me with creative tips and professional opportunities. She is the best!
These days I work part time in a fine art supplies store where I have gained invaluable practical knowledge of different mediums and methods of keeping artwork archival. Every moment when I am not in the shop, I am running my own business full time as an Etsy store owner selling fine art prints, enamel pins and patches, and I work as a freelance illustrator.
Did you always feel destined to be an artist? Were you ever unsure?
I have always felt the need to create and I know it is the right path for me. However, like anyone going through tough times, of course there are occasions where I doubt or feel like I’m not good enough. In fact, sometimes when my hand somehow, randomly forgets how to draw or paint, I start to wonder if I was ever really able to draw at all, haha. I know–totally dramatic, but hopefully some other artists out there can relate!
What is your studio/workspace like?
We have just moved houses, so my partner and I are still sorting out our workspaces. At the moment my stuff is everywhere! But even after all these years I feel most comfy sat on our couch, watching my favourite shows on repeat with paper on board and my copic markers next to me.
What’s your creative process like? Do you like to sketch and plan or just wing it?
For the most part I just wing it. I don’t like to spend too much time on something otherwise I lose interest. I tend to be guided by this intense feeling of inspiration to work on one project and once I communicate that image onto paper it’s done and I need a break from it. I feel emotionally drained.
I will maybe do a crappy thumbnail or two in my sketch book, and if I like the shape of the image I’ll just go straight into drawing on nice paper and then the inking goes straight over the top. I don’t use a lightbox or do multiple drawings to clean up the work before I move in with colour – like I said I have to move fast or I get bored.
I love your color palette so much! What are your favorite art supplies? Are there any that intimidate you?
Thank you so much! Colour is what inspires me most when painting. My absolute all time favourite art supplies are Copic Markers. They blend and layer so beautifully, They are so transparent and staining and colourful and you can be really creative with them. I have to say using them comes more naturally to me than other mediums. A close second would be gouache for their lovely velvety matte-ness and oils for their jewel-like shine and blending abilities.
I have only just started exploring oils, but I have to say that they intimidate me the most because there are so many rules! And so many different mediums, which have to be used only at certain times and in certain ways and I worry I’ll get the mixture of medium to paint wrong or I’ll use the wrong thing and my whole painting will slide or crack off the board! Also my cat wants to walk the paint through the house or shed his fur onto the slow drying piece so that can be challenging, haha.
Do you collect anything?
I used to collect lots of things, but the older I get the less I want or need to. I am starting to appreciate the less cluttered lifestyle. However… I have a very large collection of books and art materials. But I figure if they are things that really inspire me or help me improve my skills as an artist then that can only be a good thing!
What makes you happiest in life?
I am happiest when I am stuffing my face with delicious foods or when I get to my favourite part of a painting which is usually colouring in the face with like 50 different shades of skin tones and then a bunch of random colours thrown in for the hell of it. I also love my animals, and just animals in general. I could probably sit and watch funny/cute animal vids with my boyfriend forever and we would be the happiest people in the world.