Charles Ash is a native of the desert southwest. Born and raised in Phoenix, went to school in Tucson, lived in Las Cruces and has been living and working in Santa Fe for the past 35 years; a true “desert rat” born and bred. In addition to his artwork, Ash is a practicing Architect with the firm Allied Arts.
“I am in heaven living and working in New Mexico and especially Santa Fe” Ash goes on, “The massing, colors and textures of the pueblos are reminiscent of modern architecture in the twentieth century. The layering of the masses is a hall mark of southwest architecture and one of the elements that translates into Ash’s work.”
“I love the variety of landscapes and being able to drive 20 minutes to trails leading into wilderness areas. When you arrive at Northern New Mexico, you immediately understand what has drawn artists for the past 150 years. Most of all the blending of the three cultures: Spanish, Native American and Anglo give me so much to draw from”
Growing up, his parents were avid and rather eclectic art collectors; contemporary, traditional, sculpture, Native American and East Asian were all part of his environment. He was exposed to the forms and colors of Spanish, Native American and especially the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright. He was always drawing and during high school he took every art class available to the point that his art teacher allowed him private studio time.
It wasn’t until Ash attended the College of Architecture at the University of Arizona in Tucson (with its curriculum that heavily emphasized sketching and drawing) that he discovered the art and architecture, motifs, paintings, culture and minimalism of Japan. It was at this time that he took a watercolor class taught by Al Smith…. and immediately fell in love with watercolors.
Initially of course the images created were architecture of the southwest; adobes. Pueblos western settlement and architectural renderings then figurative works that express a dynamic quality; using the figure as an opportunity to introduce color and motion. After moving to Santa Fe, hiking up into the wilderness, finding a comfortable rock and painting what was before me.
“I love the way your paintings look as a whole, but I especially admire your facility with painting light (and shadows) and depicting wonderfully textured skies.
His work draws from the forms, colors and experiences of the desert Southwest; an enjoyment in the act of painting expressing a simpler, more casual approach to life. Ash creates watercolor paintings that capture shadow, form and space; an approach where he relies on the quality of light and shadow to give a bold quality to his work. He loves working quickly with paint, looking for the spontaneity and happy accidents that occur with a rough watercolor paper.
University of Arizona
Bachelor of Architecture, 1982