Math in Nature Show

Since the start of my work on the Math in Nature series, I had always entertained the thought of having a show once all four books were complete. Well, this summer my dream came true thanks to a very special gallery in my home town of Whitby.

Station Gallery’s Curator, Olex Wlasenko, was really the driving force behind this becoming a reality. He first got in touch about a year ago, to present the idea of featuring me in the artist’s spotlight section of SG’s membership magazine, Platform. Since then, I’ve been welcomed into the Station Gallery family.

I call it a family because it really feels like one. On top of everyone being super welcoming, it turns out I have some old friends there. I soon found out that Chrissie Wysotski, illustrator and former neighbour of mine, was now working as SG’s educator and family programmer. Chrissie and her husband David were the first illustrators I had ever met and encouraged me to apply to OCAD back in high school. As well, Olex’s sister, Kathryn Wlasenko, was my high school art teacher.

Station Gallery has also given me the opportunity to flex my teaching muscles. I taught my very first adult art class titled “Paper Landscapes”, as part of SG’s winter programming. It went so well that I’ll be giving another go at it this coming winter with two new classes titled “Paper Pets” and “Paper People”.

Ashley Barron, Math in Nature, Station GalleryMath in Nature, Children's Book illustrations, station gallery
Math in Nature, Children's Book illustrations, Station Gallery

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Olex comparing the Prairie Chicken spread from Sorting Through Spring with the original art. Toronto Image Works did a wonderful job photographing all four books.

Station Gallery, Whitby, Math in Nature, Ashley Barron

2014 OAC Logo Colour JPG

Thanks again to Olex Wlasenko and the rest of the gang at Station Gallery for putting together an excellent exhibition, as well as the Ontario Arts Council for their Exhibition Assistance grant. And of course, thanks goes to Owlkids for believing in my abilities and for welcoming me into the Children’s Book market. The Math in Nature series was made possible through the combined efforts of Lizann Flatt (Author), Jennifer Stokes (Editor), Claudia Davila (Designer), Barb Kelly & Mahak Jain (Art Directors).

To learn more about what the Whitby Station Gallery has to offer, visit their site: http://www.whitbystationgallery.com

The Math in Nature books can be purchased through the Owlkids Store, as well as Chapters, Amazon and all sorts of smaller book shops.

Paper Poppies

Earlier this spring, I had the pleasure of teaming up with my art director/illustrator friend Elena Viltovskaia, on a rather pretty project.

Roohi Qureshi of Leaves of Trees was preparing to launch her official shop opening and needed a fresh window dressing to help celebrate the occasion. Winter’s stronghold was finally loosening and so we all agreed that a bright burst of blooms was well in order. Poppies seemed like the right flower for the job!

Process shot of making paper poppies, petals

Elena and I researched how to make large paper flowers that were structurally sound. Most online tutorials suggested creating accordion-style folds for each petal, but it looked a bit distracting and not true to the poppy’s form. After some experimenting, we found a way to keep the petals smooth but curved by overlapping them one by one and using staples to retain their domed tension.

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Elena and I are quite happy with the resulting crisp, graphic look of the poppies and have been told there’s a little marimekko-ness to them, which is a huge compliment! We hope to collaborate on more paper floral creations in the future.

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paper poppy window display, leaves of trees

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Our Paper Poppy window display will be up for the remainder of the summer. I highly recommend coming by and sampling the many natural lipbalms, deodorants, lotions and argon oil products Leaves of Trees has to offer. The shop is located at 177 Queen Street East, Toronto. http://www.leavesoftrees.com

Thanks goes to @fio_85 and @makerscartel for these two window shots!

Solitary Bee House

Bees are a hot topic right now, and rightly so.

Bee populations are falling at an alarming rate, which isn’t cool when you consider how essential they are to our food system. The use of pesticides and monocultures of commodity crops (like wheat and corn) that sterilize the landscape of biodiversity are just two of the contributing factors to their disappearance.

Agapostemon, Solitary Bee

Last summer I attended a Pollinators workshop put on by the good people at TheStop.org. The presenter that day was artist and bee enthusiast, Stephen Humphrey. He explained the differences between solitary and communal bees and how important it was to encourage their presence in our yards through the help of bee houses and by growing native plants.

I was especially delighted to learn that a certain emerald wasp-like insect I had photographed in my garden (see above) was in fact a species of solitary bee called Agapostemon. In fact, it’s one of Stephen’s favourite species and it’s not hard to see why. They’re absolutely gorgeous!

Stephen is part of an ecologically-minded artist’s group called Resonating Bodies. I recommend checking out their bee house installations!

paper cut bee illustration solitary bee house

Flash forward 6 months later, and there I was, illustrating solitary bees for the Canadian Wildlife Federation’s kid’s publication, WILD. (Thanks to AD, Steve Balaban)

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The step by step guide teaches kids how to make their own bee house out of the simplest of materials: drilling holes into pieces of wood. Here’s another way of making a bee house I spotted at Toronto Blooms, using clustered bamboo sticks.

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The construction of bee houses combined with the replanting of native wildflowers is one small step we can all take to help improve our bee numbers.

I plan on making one for my backyard and I’ll be sure to post an update on how it turns out!

GCBC Season Opener Show

There was this time in little league when my entire team caught lice from sharing the same batting helmet. Lesson learned, my mom rushed out and bought me my very own baseball helmet…only for it to collect dust in the garage because I had switched over to soccer the following year.

I was 6 years old when I played in that league and so my memories are few. Other than the head lice fiasco, the only thing that really stands out is our coach and his pre-game mantra: “If we win we get ice cream and if we lose, we still get ice cream.”

There’s a lot of comfort in a simple phrase like that, no matter how old you are.

(I was really happy to be part of this year’s Season Opener show, put on by Garrison Creek Bat Co. Below are some process shots of my bat submission titled: Sweet Deal.)

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Still Life

Here’s an illustration that didn’t require much research thanks to all of the references already laid out in front of me. I pretty much created a still life of my desk.

My immortalized desktop can be found in the April issue of Spider Magazine, accompanying instructions on how to make a magazine holder out of an old cereal box and paper scraps. I remember making something similar to this as a kid, and I’m pretty sure it had mostly unicorns plastered all over it.

magasine holder craft, Spider magazin, paper collage illustratione

Pockets Warhol

Ever wonder what happened to Darwin the baby Japanese Macaque, famously known as the Ikea monkey? Well, he’s since shed his fashionable coat and is now living life more monkey-like at the Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary. The sanctuary cares for over 20 monkeys, ranging from Marmosets, Lemurs, Squirrel Monkeys (my favourite), Spider Monkeys, Capuchin monkeys, Macaques, to Baboons.

Last fall, I had the pleasure of illustrating an article about Story Book Farm for the CWF’s kid’s magazine WILD. The article shed light on a special Macaque named Pockets Warhol who has an affinity for making art. His finger paintings have quite the following, and are auctioned off to help raise money for the farm.

pockets warhol painting monkey

Pockets relies on his assistant to lay down a canvas and squeeze out droplets of paint, but the rest is up to him. I wanted show off his distinct finger strokes in my illustration, so I first made the blank canvas with paper and then over-layed one of his actual paintings in photoshop. You could say I, too, was his assistant in this case!

Scrapbooked Cat

I’ve always shied away from using scrapbooking paper in my illustrations. I made the assumption long ago that using mass-produced, store-bought patterns would dilute my style of all it’s uniqueness. And so, working around this, I found ways to make my own patterned/textured paper using paints and stamps.

Last weak I loosened my pride a bit, and gave into experimenting with some available scrapbooking sheets. Using my boyfriend’s Balinese cat as my subject, I set out to recreate her transitional fur colouring using only the paper at hand. The tiny printed patterns proved very useful in this challenge, and I’m very happy with the results.

What I previously thought would dilute actually enhanced.

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And here’s a photo of the lovely lady herself. Toy is her name. She enjoys climbing up ladders, watching movies on your lap and eating the occasional piece of bacon now and then. She loathes the vacuum cleaner. (Photo Credit: Kevin C. W. Wong)


Hello

My name is Ashley Barron and I'm a Toronto based illustrator. This is my online show & tell of new artwork and anything else I find inspiring. Thanks for taking a look :)

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Maya of @nuts_and_bowls with some Yerba Mate in place of a bday cake, after the market. My favourite bouquet from Saturday's @torontoflowermarket. Gale of #SweetGaleGardens grows these gems on her flower farm in Downsview Park. This pic is from a couple of weeks ago, but you can see how the Croton flower developed. It's since withered and fallen off. #crotonflower Rope and wire: all you need for a DIY spiral bird perch. Today's pick: 21 pounds of plums!  #NotFarFromTheTree @nfftt Just a little reminder of what Poison Ivy looks like. (Thanks for the refresher last night, @wildforagerssociety!) I have nine of my children's book illustrations on display at Whitby's @stationgallery until Sept. 7th. Feeling very honoured to have this in my home town. The people are so nice there! If you're in the area, do stop in and say hello! This huge apple tree on Bathurst Street was dropping fruit left and right, it was so loaded. We picked 103 pounds of it. Apple pie anyone? @nfftt

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