Heart Pine

The Hudson Company + Ashley Seil Smith

New York based artist Ashley Seil Smith

New York based artist Ashley Seil Smith

I like the warmth and texture inherent in the Reclaimed Heart Pine flooring, there’s a lot of character and line variation within the grain, which I think complements the line work in my drawings.
— Ashley Seil Smith
The artist at work.

The artist at work.

The Hudson Company + Ashley Seil Smith

Ashley Seil Smith is an artist based in Manhattan, New York with a studio in the lower Hudson Valley.  She has a background in cultural anthropology but earned an MFA in Illustration as Visual Essay from the School of Visual Arts.  In 2012 she cofounded The Period Store and eventually sold it in 2015 to focus on editorial illustration, fine art, and teaching. Ashley's commercial clients include Google, Case Agency, Forbes, Oyster Books, Isthmus, and various academic journals and nonprofits. The artist lives, and often works, in Manhattan, but escapes to the Hudson River and her studio near Bear Mountain whenever she can. In addition to freelance, commissioned, and fine art work, Ashley teaches art to a variety of ages around Manhattan with Scribble Art Workshop.

The Hudson Company first discovered Ashley's work via her inspiring Instagram feed which is, like her work, full of whimsical observations of both the natural and built environments. It would be easy to peruse Ashley's work - particularly her pen and ink drawings and ethnographic prints - and see it as simplistic. But we think that it is precisely this deceptive simplicity that is so intriguing about Ashley's work. In our opinion, there is a timeless, reflective beauty in her (often small scale) drawings as well as an exotic mystique to her prints and graphic design work.

This summer we reached out to Ashley and asked her to allow us into her creative process. Along with the insights below, Ashley was also kind enough to create a custom mood board for us, using Reclaimed Heart Pine [Original Face] as her backdrop. 

5 Questions with Artist Ashley Seil Smith

Tell us about the tools that you've included in your mood board, what's their origin story? 

I enjoy collecting older tools that can actually be used in my art practice.  Some of them were picked up at antique stores across the United States (particularly along the Hudson River Valley, where my studio is), others I inherited from my grandma, who dabbled in art and was a wildly creative person.  A lot of older tools were designed beautifully, simply, and with quality material, so using them is an esthetic and practical as well.  My rulers are my favorite tools - natural material with interesting designs and stories to tell.

How do you use mood boards in your work? What role do they play in your creative process?

Mood boards keep things concise - I believe "good" mood boards have some parameters - a limit on how much you can add, so it forces you to think through what really inspires you and why.  So much of creativity is about making decisions, and a mood board helps you identify specific things you like or aim for in your own work.

I always keep a small collection of images on a folder in my desktop, and these act as a general mood board for my work, which spans across many mediums.  They are images that I truly love and that inspire me in some way, whether it's the color palette, technique, concept, or the way the image makes me feel.  I go through my little desktop mood board about once a month and always end up editing something out and adding other things that I like better.

There are so many places to go for inspiration these days, where do you go to get inspired?

I like going to places that set my aesthetic standard pretty high, and since I live in Manhattan, I have the opportunity to visit museums fairly often - the Met, MoMA, or Museum of Natural History are some favorites.  If an art exhibit inspires me I always buy the exhibit catalogue, so I have a nice collection of art books started and I refer to them when I'm in a rut.

Other than museums, I also turn to creative sources I trust, like The Great Discontent, and I see a lot of wonderful work on Instagram and Pinterest.  Pinterest, in particular, is great when I'm doing initial research for a project.  And, like many artists, I find a great deal of inspiration in nature. If I'm not working, I'm likely walking outside with my dogs or out for a trail run or hike around Inwood Hill Park.

What can you tell us about the drawing you included in your mood board: was that an original for this mood board or something you created separately? 

This particular ink drawing was done at the beginning of the year and was inspired by Yosemite National Park. I find myself drawing a lot of scenes from places I love or that inspire me. As you can tell, I enjoy the simplicity of pen and ink as well, it's a simple medium that's good for travel, so a lot of my ink drawings are done on location.

Why did you chose this particular Hudson Company flooring as the background for mood board?

I like the warmth and texture inherent in the Reclaimed Heart Pine flooring, there's a lot of character and line variation within the grain, which I think complements the line work in my drawings. I'm a big fan of Hudson Company flooring - you manage to cover all parts of the spectrum, from rustic to modern to classic and beyond.  Natural textures paired with modern design inspire me, which is one of the reasons I started following Hudson Company on various social medium platforms. 

You can learn more about Ashley's work on her website and you can follow her creative journey on Instagram. All above photos are taken from Ashley's website or Instagram feed. All mood board photos by Gentl and Hyers

Learn more about Reclaimed Heart Pine [Original Face] here. 

Mood board by Ashley Seil Smith for The Hudson Company

Mood board by Ashley Seil Smith for The Hudson Company

Installation in Focus: Private Residence, Brooklyn, NY

All photos by  Evan Joseph . Used with kind permission.

All photos by Evan Joseph. Used with kind permission.

Reclaimed Heart Pine for a Bespoke Brooklyn home

This year, The Hudson Company was proud to provide 2,000 square feet of ¾” x 7” Reclaimed Heart Pine [New Face] and 1,600 square feet of ¾” x 4” x 24” Reclaimed Heart Pine Herringbone [New Face] to this stunning Brooklyn townhouse project. This source material for this project was reclaimed from the New York City area (some of which was salvaged from a nearby Domino Sugar factory that had recently been decommissioned). All of the reclaimed wood flooring was site finished.

A well-crafted labor of love

According to Jeff Lorenz, one of the project's principals, the use of natural-tone woods was a central design goal, 'We set out to create a very natural, warm feeling home. We used a lot of wood between our floors and extensive millwork package. With both, we tried to showcase the materials natural beauty by keeping stains and finishes to an absolute minimum.' Unlike a typical 'owner-driven' design program, this residential development, designed by architect Will Corcoran, was built in anticipation of a future tenant. 'This home was a true labor of love,' says Lorenz, 'we set out to build our dream home in the hopes that the end user would appreciate the extensive material sourcing and craftsmanship.'

From the very beginning, sustainable material sourcing was important to the project. 'We are located in Williamsburg, Brooklyn,' explains Lorenz, 'and one of the neighborhoods most iconic buildings is the Domino Sugar factory. When we learned that we could incorporate material salvaged from such an historic place we knew we had to do it. People's reaction to this part of the project has been truly remarkable.'

A Successful Partnership, An Impressive Result

When all was said and done, the finished home was a profound success - the result of the dedication of numerous creative teams and craftspeople; from the design to the intricate tile and iron work to the beautiful Henrybuilt cabinetry. According to Lorenz, a successful collaboration with The Hudson Company was also a central part of what helped bring the project together, 'Working with Hudson was a great experience; when we came up a bit short of flooring material, they turned around what we needed in no time. When we decided we wanted to make a special 1" x 1" baseboard out of the same flooring material, The Hudson Company milled it down, no problems.'

Now that the project is finished, the only question that we have is, 'when can we move in?'

You can learn more about Reclaimed Heart Pine here or get a quote for your next project hereAll photos by Evan Joseph, used with kind permission.

All photos by  Evan Joseph . Used with kind permission.

All photos by Evan Joseph. Used with kind permission.