Chaos, color, and story. That’s what I aim to create in in my art. There’s an internal harmony to my paintings that tells a story in between the claustrophobia of color crowding the senses. I tend towards abstract, stylized themes, and the environment, whether it’s the natural world or urban landscapes, are always present in my pieces. My lively abstract paintings utilize vibrant, intense colors and dense visual textures to convey the sensory and emotional overwhelm I experience in the world.

When I work in paint (watercolor, oil, and acrylic) I’m driven by a particular technique that I experiment with to create visual texture. Color and looseness of form define my paintings. Shapes and lines are either organic and free-flowing ,or sharp and jagged fragments. I look to nature for inspiration in creating composition and the individual elements in my paintings—sunsets and skyscapes, trees, herbs and flowers, underwater landscapes, and even the cellular structures of living organisms inform my works.

Color is where my paintings depart from the natural world. I select bright unnatural colors that are almost painful to look at. Intense yellows and greens, deep purples, pinks and yellowy blues rarely found in nature. The intensity of the colors combined with the visual patterns I create using various techniques like drip painting, scoring, finger painting, are often combined with paint mediums to give body to create a busy, chaotic canvas.

I want people to feel something when they look at these paintings—whether that’s a positive or negative one, I want the viewer to look at the painting and have an emotional reaction. Color is a powerful, yet subtle way to convey an emotion. I use a lot of reds and yellows in my work which are arguably the colors that call the most attention and are associated with the most intense emotions—anger, love, fear, lust, pain, happiness, joy, strength—red and yellow are power colors you can’t look away from. I want the viewer to look at these paintings and be unable to look away. As a sensitive person, I’m often overwhelmed by the intense emotions of others, and the loud, attention-grabbing messaging I hear on the daily from the news, ads, social media, and societal institutions. These paintings are a way to bring awareness to the overwhelming voices we as humans absorb without a thought, and perhaps remind the viewer to tune inward instead.

Ashley Irizarry is a painter and mixed media artist whose creative endeavors center around her sensitivity and mental health struggles. Her lively abstract paintings utilize vibrant, intense colors and dense visual textures to convey the sensory and emotional overwhelm she experiences in the world. She felt out-of-place growing up and living in South Florida, a place where people flock to retire, relax, and escape. “I never felt at home here” Ashley Irizarry says about Florida, “in this atmosphere of careless fun and sunshine, my desire for quiet reflection and emotional sensitivity to the traumas of the world felt antithetical to my environment. It was a smile pasted over rain clouds.” She carries this sentiment over into her paintings, contrasting the softness of organic shapes with intense color palettes and visual textures that highlight the pain and melancholy suffusing the sunshine.