Ashton Howard was like any other kid growing up in small town America. But his journey from the white sands of the Gulf Coast to the rocky cliffs of the Pacific Ocean shaped his life and his art – which now ‘hangs ten’ on walls from here to Japan.
In high school, Howard began drawing little daydreams and characters in his books. He took an interest in graffiti art, which introduced him to the world of color.
“I fell in love with color and design and creating from my imagination all sorts of shapes, letters, and complimenting backgrounds,” he says. “Each sketch was more elaborate than the next, and what really captured my imagination were the backgrounds I was focused on creating.”
Markers and colored pencils were soon replaced by spray paint cans, leading Howard to create the brilliant, bold pieces of art for which he is known today. As sketches gave way to paintings on canvas, the young artist developed a style all his own.
His travels not only gave him a new perspective, but ultimately a fulfilling career. He grew up on the beautiful beaches of Pensacola, taking trips to the East Coast in search of good swells to surf. But exploring the Pacific coastal landscapes and wide-open west was the turning point in his art.
“Growing up here on the Gulf Coast certainly has had an influence on my life and work, but I did not realize it until later,” Howard says. “When I set my eyes on the rolling waves of the Pacific and the magnificent cliffs and canyons that rest along the sea, I had a burning feeling in my heart and an energy that couldn’t rest.”
Howard started out as a street artist in Laguna Beach, California, selling hand-painted rocks in a park overlooking the Pacific. He enjoyed his free time surfing and staying inspired by the thing he loved most.
Eventually, he began to sell his large canvas paintings in a gallery along the Pacific Coast Highway, where he still does business today. This is when Howard got serious about his craft.
“I worked hard on my artwork every day, developing my style of painting, and realizing that it was certainly a business I was pursuing by selling my art in galleries and developing relationships with each one,” he recalls. “I have been fortunate to have galleries all over the country sell my art and travel to some of the best cities and coastal towns in America.”
Those travels and adventures continue to inspire and shape Howard as a person and an artist, providing an unending supply of creativity. His stunning oceanic art is “inspired by so many things – memories, imagination, travel and adventure, and the magical times of day where the sun paints our world full of color.”
In his own words: “I wish I could paint faster sometimes to express all of the ideas I have inside.”
Howard has made his mark around the world, yet he chooses to reside in the relatively undiscovered Pensacola. Of course it is beautiful, but moreover it is home. Where his parents raised him to be the person he is today. Where he played on his first baseball team with friends he has known since Kindergarten. Where he met his wife 14 years ago, and where they will someday raise a family.
Howard sells the majority of his work through his Ashton Howard Online Gallery, but there are a few opportunities to view and purchase his pieces when you visit Pensacola. Mainline Art Gallery and The Global Grill in Downtown Pensacola both display a selection of his original paintings.
Asked what he hopes to share with the world through his art, Howard shows great care and resolve – “a deeper appreciation for the beauty of our oceans near and far, for the sunrises and sunsets on this planet that we live on … and to remember the simple things in life; for they are the most important.”
To read more about the artist Ashton Howard or to get your hands on his art, visit his Ashton Howard website.