When you step into the studio of painter Angela Alexander, you are immediately awestruck by the bright and vibrant nature of her pieces, a style that seamlessly complements her warm personality.
“I want my art to make people happy—it’s the heart and soul,” she said. “It’s a joy to watch people walk into my studio and see an instant smile on their faces.”
Situated above Depot Street in the River Arts District (RAD) of Asheville, Alexander specializes in painting abstract portraits of dogs. What started out as a hobby has now garnered her national attention and accolades.
“The way I see it, dogs are obviously what I’m most passionate about. But, for me, this style of painting is all about their energy, their inner color,” she said. “When I look at a dog, I see all of that. All their emotions that are just like us. They go from happy and sweet to guilty or that inquisitive look.”
Unable to have children of her own, Alexander is a proud “dog mom,” with her cherished canines helping cure her physical and emotional woes.
“For me, dogs are unconditional love. They’re always happy to see me. I don’t know anyone who is always happy to see me,” Alexander laughed. “You walk out the door, and you come back in 10 minutes, and they’re all smiling—they’re just constant companions.”
Amid her lifelong battle with Type 1 diabetes, Alexander developed rheumatoid arthritis, something that changed her once-intricate style into a more free-flowing approach.
“I started having problems with my hands and vision. I’m a painter, this is what I do. What’s going to happen to me? I was afraid,” she said. “I remember being so frustrated when my hand was so bad. I barely finished this one piece for a big show. I was told not to paint for a few weeks. And after 10 days, I had to dip my hands into paint. This new style emerged from out of nowhere. It’s a gift. It truly happened out of the blue.”
That style of bigger brushes and looser strokes became Alexander’s artistic signature. Seeing the popularity of her portraits, Alexander used that platform to help local animal organizations.
In her “Forget Me Not” series, Alexander paints portraits of dogs that have been in shelters for long periods of time. A portion of the proceeds goes to Brother Wolf Animal Rescue. Alexander also displays her work in the Aloft hotel in Downtown Asheville, with a portion of the proceeds going to the Asheville Humane Society.
“You have to give back in life. The way I help is with my artwork,” she said. “I want to tell the stories of these dogs to not only bring awareness, but also donate money to the shelters.”
When asked about what makes the RAD so special, Alexander noted the camaraderie and collaboration between the hundreds of artists from as many different creative mediums.
“It’s a beehive of creativity. We inspire each other,” she said. “The energy here is just wonderful. I think if you’re creative, you’ll flourish in this environment.”
And even with her health concerns, Alexander looks at them as obstacles she aims to overcome, one painting at a time.
“Painting is therapeutic. It feeds my soul,” she said. “I’m going to keep painting. I’m just going to keep rolling with it. I’ve learned there’s always something good in a bad situation. Just keep going, just keep painting. I have to paint.”