Hello, I am Alex Aleshire. I’ve been playing in the dirt for as long as I can remember. As an avid edible gardener with a background in child development and a minor in art, I have a passion for connecting people with the earth.
After designing "Outdoor Classroom" gardens for several schools, I became a Los Angeles County Master Gardener and an Edible Landscape Trainer. Designing functional, organic and sustainable gardens is just one of of my passions. So is helping people learn how to maintain their gardens using simple organic methods.
Recently, I join the EnrichLA team. EnrichLA is a nonprofit organization whose purpose is to not only build edible AND sustainable gardens in every Los Angeles county school, but to also provide Garden Rangers who teach STEM based garden classes directly in the garden. You see, helping children gain respect for where their food comes from and teaching them that their choices about food affect their health, the environment, and their communities is what fuels and inspires me.
When I am not gardening, I’m in the mud... over the potter's wheel. As you can see, this love of the earth is transforming into a small business which, simply put...is mind blowing!
If you are interested in how I got started, please read on.
I have to say that my very first interest in art came from my father, who was a natural artist...he could sketch anything, and his skill truly inspired me to take art classes. In college, I majored in Child Development hoping to become a teacher and I minored in Art studies so I took all the art classes, oil/water color painting, illustration, graphic design etc. etc. I learned to draw and paint, working very hard at it. Always with a sketch book in hand, drawing and painting everything I saw. I would finish a sketch book and start another one....but you see, I never felt it came naturally to me. My class mates were far superior in their talents and I learned to except that (I thought, there is no way you are going to make a living as an artist). But when I finally took a pottery class, it felt as if I had found my home. This skill came naturally to me, where others struggled to shape and mold the clay, I worked with ease and more importantly calmness
I loved these classes, and took all the ones offered until I graduate and began working at a school teaching.
The logistic of doing pottery is complicate. It requires a lot of equipment I did not have, nor had access to. I began working full time, met my husband, married and began to work on a family. Slowly, art became a thing of the past...I even stopped sketching. Other more important things filled my days.
One day, on a family trip in Hawaii, my husband rented a car and began driving us into the middle of the island, away from the beach area. I was a bit confused and ask, where are we going? He said, “I want to go to this art store I heard about”. My heart just stopped.
Then my nine year old say, “ Art store? Why are we going there?”
My husband replied, “I want to get your mom a paint set, so she can draw and paint all our adventures”.
I still remember my son’s expression and response to this day. His look was of bewilderment and confusion.
“Mom doesn’t draw!”
It dawned on me that during the nine years of my son’s life, I had never showed him this side of me. I had let busy things fill my days and I had forgotten something in me that I loved.
Needles to say, this was a turning point in my life. I began painting and drawing again, setting up my easel in the living room and making it a part of everyday life. During family trips, I would sketch and draw nature scenes that I am especially fond of, especially where the earth meets the water. This is my favorite area to see and discover. Blue waves crashing onto pale sand, turquoise streams slowly sliding over mossy rocks...this is my happy place.
My husband has continued to support my love of art. He was determined to get me back into pottery, my true passion. He gifted me with a couples pottery class at a nearby studio and we went and I was hooked! All the ideas and possibilities came flowing! I can only explain it like a void being filled, like when you are so thirsty, and you are filling a large glass with cool clear water...the flow, the sound, the anticipation, the first drink. That is what I feel when I work...as if it is not work at all, but something necessary.
I worked out of that studio for a year and slowly began to create a space to work out of my home. This was very important to me because being away from my family, at a studio did not give me peace of mind.
It has been a challenging journey, mostly because I began to realize I needed to sell my work to purchase all the items needed. Family and friends encourage me to do markets and I quickly realized I needed to work on a design that told my story, who I was as an artist. So I went back to what I loved the most, water and land.
When I create, I start at the end...I think, what is it that I want to feel when I hold a finished piece? The rough and exposed texture of the clay against the silkiness of a drippy glaze? A place where soil meets water and mixes together in a flurry or simply slips by. This is what excites me. The anticipation of making something that draws a person to a moment or memory of when they felt a connection to our Earth.
I have to say though, that if it wasn’t for my husband’s push to rekindle my long lost love, I may not have what I have today. He always encourages our boys to never dismiss what you are passionate about and let that lead your direction in life.
Thank you for reading ~ Alex