Creative Space: Artist and mother blossoms with 'Bark and Bounty'

Something has been asleep inside Ashley Claure.

Feeling isolated as a stay-at-home mom, Claure decided it was time to make herself a priority. So she decided to go out and buy herself art supplies.

“A lot of moms — stay-at-home dads, too — you feel … you’re kind of, I don’t want to say invisible, but your main priority is the children. You kind of take a backseat. And I just wanted to have it all.”

Sitting at her daughter’s soccer practice last January, Claure brought her sketchbook and “Betty,” a woman clothed in flowers with butterflies blowing her hair in the wind, appeared on the page.

“I just … did that,” she said. “It’s the first piece I ever did in many, many, many, many years.”

With her inner painter awakened, Claure expanded her works into dreamy astrology and tarot-themed pieces full of flowers and lush garden-scapes. In September, the Annapolis woman launched Bark and Bounty, an online shop showing off her work.

“I never took classes, I was never taught. I just always kind of had this in me,” she said.

She receives commissions for paintings and has expanded into selling on Etsy, a website that sells homemade and vintage goods. Her work is sold at Rutabaga Craft Juicery in West Annapolis and will be shown at Joe Digs Coffee in Edgewater in February and Tsunami in April.

Her shop includes e-tarot card readings and natural homemade goods such as elderberry syrup and “smudge sticks” with scents like pine, wildflower, cinnamon and vanilla burned like sage to clear a room of “bad” energy. Five percent of all Bark and Bounty sales go to Court Appointed Special Advocates of Anne Arundel County, where she is a volunteer.

Though Claure has made time for herself with Bark and Bounty, her three young children are part of her creative process.

“I usually have a Lego table for the baby. Wherever I am they all just wander, so I have to make it work. The baby grabs my brushes and puts them on the canvas. They wanna do what mama’s doing,” she said.

Claure has begun pushing her paintings beyond the canvas.

In experimenting with pastry art, her first pieces include a glistening blue geode cake and a “Telltale Tart” hand-painted Edgar Allan Poe birthday cake. She’s designing her own tarot deck and working on children’s book illustration ideas.

And speaking of tattoos.

“I’ve noticed on the market there are no books for parents with tattoos,” she said. “My husband has full sleeves and his chest covered. I want to do something that caters to parents who aren’t the typical parent.”

Claure encourages stay-at-home parents to awaken their creative force.

“I feel more like myself than I have in a long time, coming back to this. It’s such a big part of me that was asleep for a long time, and I’m just ready to get it all out there,” she said. “You can be a working parent and still follow your dreams. It can be really stressful and it’s hard to find the time, but you have to make it a priority.”

Send tips about Anne Arundel artists with unique talents and stories to Selene San Felice at ssanfelice@capgaznews.com and Thalia Juarez at tjuarez@baltsun.com.

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