Ashley Joon's Nature-Inspired Acrylics Will Make You Love Orchids and Antlers

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You can find art all over town -- not just on gallery walls. In this series, we'll be looking at some of the local artists who serve up their work in coffeehouses and other non-gallery businesses around town.

"I'm inspired by so many things," says Ashley Joon, who then lists antlers, metallic colors, the Denver Botanic Gardens and flowers. Especially flowers. "I can see movement in the petals, and my eyes go crazy in seeing movement in things that aren't moving," she explains. The artist has a knack for capturing the movement she sees on canvas -- and for teaching other people to capture it, too.

See also: Former Marine Tylor Belshe Navigates the Art of War

Joon currently has three pieces on display at DADA Art Bar, and created a painting there during November's First Friday. It was one of her first live shows, and she admits to being nervous. The adrenaline, though, contributed to the success of the finished project: a drooping bunch of Joon's trademark orchids. Live painting isn't totally foreign to Joon, though, since she occasionally teaches painting classes at DADA, Sipping N' Painting and Infinite Monkey Theorem, where she has also shown her work several times. Joon says she "fell in love with art in high school." She thought about pursuing it in college, but "decided to study business because it seemed more practical." But when she graduated and was working in the marketing industry, Joon realized something was missing. "I started painting again, but the problem was I still didn't know who I was as an artist," she explains. So she played, experimented and took local workshops for five years, and eventually found her authentic voice -- one that's messy, interesting and perfectly imperfect. Continue reading for more on Joon's unique style and upcoming pop-up art show. "I paint with my fingers and a spray bottle now, and it is madness," Joon says of her technique. At first, the artist was attempting picture-perfect acrylic-on-canvas renderings. "But that just wasn't fun," she says. "I wanted to throw in colors that didn't belong and use drips." Giving in to those urges freed Joon up to be more creative. The results can be mesmerizing. Five months ago, Joon quit her day job to pursue art full-time. "So far, so good," she says. "I still can't believe I'm really doing it."

For inspiration, Joon heads to one of our local parks -- Cheesman and Wash Park are her favorites -- to photograph eye candy. "Parks with a bunch of flowers, those are my sanctuaries," Joon says. "And the Botanic Gardens: I lived there this summer!"

In September Joon wrapped up a particularly impressive art show at photographer Andrew Clark's studio. "That was a really crazy story," Joon says, explaining how she was headed to Connecticut when she struck up a conversation with the man sitting next to her on the airplane after he noticed the paintings on Joon's laptop. The two talked casually about art, and it wasn't until they were getting ready to deplane that Joon's in-flight companion mentioned he had co-founded the beloved Cherry Creek Arts Festival. Joon handed over her card, and, in a rather serendipitous turn of events, the new acquaintance got her in touch with Clark.

For more of Joon's work, visit her website or Facebook page. Or, head to Pajama Baking Company on December 5, when the artist will participate in a one-night-only pop-up art show.

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