Brinley Ash isn’t the type of person who will just sit around and do nothing all day long. So when she was furloughed from her retail job back in April because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 21-year-old Lantana resident turned to the one thing she knew could keep her busy while being stuck at home — driveway chalk art.
For Ash, the activity was merely a chance to reconnect with her artistic side. What it became is a new career.
“I’m still surprised people pay me to do this,” Ash said with a laugh. “I love it so much.”
By now, everyone in Lantana has heard of Brinley Ash – the UNT college student turned sought-after chalk artist who delighted families during the toughest days of the coronavirus quarantine. What they might not realize is that she’s still going strong and now has a budding business called Brinley Ash Designs. She specializes in everything from driveway chalk art to wall murals, pet portraits, and other custom-designed artwork.
The driveway chalk art has been at the center of all of that success. With an impeccable eye for detail and charm, her drawings include everything from Elsa from “Frozen” fame to Spiderman, the Incredibles, Captain America, Han Solo, unicorns, and even beautiful scenery. And these aren’t your run-of-the-mill renderings, either. We’re talking realistic, sometimes 3D, full-body drawings that pop off the pavement and have neighbor after neighbor lining up for their turn.
Ash has since developed quite the following on social media and has been featured in magazines and on Fox 4 News. She recently won the People’s Choice award at Flower Mound’s Chalk the Walk art contest at Heritage Park.
Ash hasn’t met a request yet that she hasn’t been able to create.
“I’ve had some people say, ‘Hey, can I send you a picture of my son, and you draw it?’” Brinley said. “Some people know exactly what they want, and others aren’t sure and just want me to stick with a general theme like unicorns and rainbows. I like that they trust my intuition in those situations. It’s a lot of fun.”
She added, “Most take one to two hours. Others can take three to four hours, depending on the complexity.”
This artistic side isn’t something Ash developed recently, as she comes from a large and talented artistic family. Her mother has always had an eye for interior design, and two of her three older brothers are musicians. Brinley has enjoyed drawing and painting for as long as she can remember, and that includes doing driveway chalk art with her friends in the neighborhood when they were all little.
Sadly, that creative side took a back seat in recent years as she got busier with school and work. That all changed when she was furloughed and realized she could be out of work for a very long time.
“I was stuck at home and thought to myself, ‘What should I do?’” she said. “I was bored, so I started drawing. I hadn’t had much time for drawing, so the time off gave me a lot more creative time. I started doing chalk art in my driveway one day, and the next thing I know, the neighbors were noticing and wanting me to do the same thing for them. I thought, ‘What if I can do this for other people.’ I started advertising on the community Facebook page, and people kept signing up. That’s how it began, and it hasn’t stopped since then.”
Things went so well that by the time Ash’s employer asked her to come back to work, she had two full-time jobs on her hands. She tried to do both for a few months but ultimately switched to part-time and eventually quit in September.
“I just got way too busy, and so I decided it was time to do this full-time instead,” she said.
Ash said the community support has been amazing, and being able to see little kids’ faces light up with excitement — all because of her artwork — is a dream come true.
“I’m making a living doing this, and it’s fun,” said Ash, who still plans to get her degree in advertising. “I would love to continue doing this for as long as I can. I’ve met so many really nice people and had so many new opportunities presented to me. It’s something that I really love.”
Check out her work at brinleyashdesigns.com.