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Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Artist.

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(1937-2020) Working name of an American artist who was persistently coy about her full name; however, since it is known that her mother was named Muriel Ashton, and since records show that a Jael Ashton graduated in 1956 from West High School in Salt Lake City, Utah, the state where she grew up, it is reasonable to conclude that Jael Ashton was her original name. After an earlier marriage, she was married to Greg Ruesch until her death. Her activities in the years following high school are unknown, but she later became a student at the University of Utah, majored in art, and received her BFA in 1973. She then worked as an art instructor, first at high schools and later at Clarke College in Las Vegas, Nevada, while also earning some income from portrait painting and commercial illustration. She had evidently developed an interest in sf art, however, and after attending a symposium on contact with aliens and meeting writers C J Cherryh, Larry Niven, and Jerry Pournelle, she resolved to move to New Jersey to work as an sf artist.

Her early covers for Baen Books and DAW Books tended to be unremarkable renderings of human figures, but she demonstrated some special talents in her memorable 1986 covers for the American editions of Ian Watson's Black Current/Yaleen trilogy: for The Book of the River (fixup 1984), she painted a woman riding underwater on the back of a large fish; for The Book of the Stars (1984), a beautiful woman's face hovering in a misty sky; and for The Book of Being (1985), a man and woman riding in an Airship. As these descriptions might suggest, her sf covers tended to project the aura of Fantasy, although she also demonstrated the ability to handle the tropes of Hard SF with her cover for the Fall 1993 issue of Aboriginal Science Fiction, wherein a spacesuited man and woman emerging from a Spaceship gaze at an orbiting Space Station. As she approached the age of retirement, Jael's sf covers grew increasingly rare, although she garnered one of several Chesley Award nominations for her cover for the Summer 2000 issue of Dreams of Decadence, depicting strange black and white faces emanating from a grasping hand; she also published several instructional art books for children. As her website still indicates, she continued to maintain an active schedule of teaching art, exhibiting her works, and appearing at conventions. [GW]

Jael Ashton

born 31 October 1937

died Florida: 17 November 2020


All these titles are instructional art books for children.

graphic works

  • Perceptualistics (London and New York: Paper Tiger, 2002) with text by John Grant [graph: collection of Jael's non-sf "semi-abstract, perceptualistic" paintings: hb/Jael]


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