I recently returned from my first experience as a keynote speaker, which took place in Berlin, Germany, at the Euro Pride Con 2017. It was an amazing and humbling experience, and I have a lot of people to thank.

Dani Elle Maas and Marc Fleischhauer, along with the awesome behind-the-scenes assistants, ran a warm and friendly, positive and educational, LGBTQ book convention. I met many fantastic new authors, fan-girled over authors I have long admired, and shared special moments with readers.

But there was something else extremely special about the book convention that will stay with me forever, and this happened in the preparation for the event. To preface this, I will admit that I was rather nervous at the prospect of writing and delivering my first keynote speech. I decided that I would speak about something everyone at the event had in common: that we are all on a life journey, and that, in fact, the journey is the destination.

I wrote about my personal journey from teacher to mother to author and then to author/e-activist, encouraging my listeners to view their journeys as their destinations. And I liked my speech, but it needed more—it needed incredible visuals to enhance its meaning. The first thing that popped into my mind to fill this need was the amazing artwork of my friend Timmy Ashton. I knew that his special brand of art would help my speech to come alive.

So I did what I do quite frequently—I contacted Cody Kennedy and asked him for help. I explained my idea about asking for Timmy’s help and he facilitated the process. He actually created a Facebook meeting place where Timmy and I could brainstorm the details and make concrete plans. Here is the cover page of our project:


Timmy, Cody, and I got right to work discussing our visions of posters about the topic of a life journey that would enhance my speech. As it turns out, I selected ten quotations that I felt were meaningful with regard to journeys, and Timmy created amazing art to go with them.

Before he started the actual artwork, Timmy was careful to ask plenty questions to get a clear idea of what I wanted. He was concerned that the posters look perfect and polished, and he also wanted to know the dates by which I needed his work to be completed. Right away, I knew that I was working with a professional.

And Timmy immediately impressed me as he began to show me examples of the art he created. Each image was more amazing than the next, and Timmy explained how he went about creating the piece and asked me if I wanted more detail or less to express my ideas. He was so flexible with my needs, but all I could do was gawk at the unique art created by this incredibly talented teenage boy!

Timmy used a variety of techniques to make his art come alive and best meet my needs. I will describe them to the best of my ability: He painted and sketched with flair and skill, and then used other mediums, like breaking up pieces of a reflective material and gluing it on top of rainbow chalk swatches for a surreal look, creating a origami-style butterflies and attaching them to a work for a 3-D effect. He used black and white for a stark effect and then there was his use of color… Timmy used colors in ways I hadn’t even considered.

As he revealed each piece to me, I secretly shared them with my kids and Mr. Mia. I couldn’t hold back! My family could hardly believe the images that came from Timmy’s mind!

I remember when one of Timmy’s “Mia art projects” broke apart in the drying process. He had created a stained-glass type of image with actual glued-on pieces of clear plastic (described above to the best of my ability), reflecting colors he had applied beneath them. I felt terrible because Timmy felt terrible. He was so incredibly concerned and dependable, refusing to even consider letting me down.

When the ten images were completed, I felt like I had been handed the crown jewels! (Actually, how it happened–less dramatically but just as satisfying– was that Cody emailed me professional-quality images of professional-quality posters.) I took it from there and, through Vista Print, and a little technical help from my daughter, Sisi, applied the journey quotations, the names of the speakers, and TAM (Timmy’s initials) to each image.

What you are about to see are the final products. These are the images that were displayed in huge size on the wall behind me as I delivered my speech. The original intention was to display much smaller posters, but my luggage was delayed by two days, so my daughter Demi remade my Power Point so that each poster image that Timmy made was individually displayed behind me. And they were HUGE!!!!

This is the Power Point slide to which the audience entered the conference room. It is the one I referred to as I introduced my topic, and the hardship of losing all of my luggage—clothes, presentation materials, books, swag, everything—before delivering my first-ever keynote speech.




And now, without further delay, here are all of the gorgeous works of art Timmy made to enhance my life is a journey keynote speech, with the quotations applied:











I know, I know…. These posters are unbelievable. And there’s more—Timmy sent a beautiful message for me to share with the audience.

“When Mia asked me to create art for her Euro Pride Con appearance, I didn’t have words to describe how flattered I was. More importantly, the theme of the art she wanted me to create was that of a life journey. Up until the age of 12-1/2, my life journey had been fraught with physical and emotional pain. Since, my journey has changed, thanks in no small part to people like Mia. I hope you enjoy the art I made.”

I felt like I had Timmy standing right there beside me, offering his support. It really helped.

Finally, I shared Timmy’s bio, and I asked the audience, “Did you have a bio at the age of fourteen? Well, I didn’t either, but Timmy is the accomplished and talented sort of boy who does.”

Needless to say, the audience was incredibly impressed by the professionalism and talent displayed by Timmy–I heard several gasps as I displayed his amazing art. I received many comments after the speech about how meaningful the posters were to my message and how nobody could believe a person so young created the images.



I have made an effort to thank Timmy for his incredible effort on my behalf in several ways, but none seem worthy of what he has done for me. So, I’d like to dedicate this blog post to him, and what I’d appreciate more than anything else is if you could leave comments about his posters here. Do you have a favorite? An overall impression of his work? Any thoughts about how his work impacted you? Please post whatever you have to say in the comments area. This will be a gift to me, and an acknowledgement of Timmy’s dedicated and amazing work.


THANK YOU for checking this out and I hope you enjoyed Timmy’s work as much as the Euro Pride Con keynote audience and I do!



26 Comments on “TIMMY ASHTON’s BRILLIANT ARTWORK that accompanied me to EUROPRIDE CON 2017!

  1. These are fabulous! Timmy, you are amazing! The words and art are very paired thoughtfully. Love them! Mia, if you are a member of Costco, you should get them printed poster size. I print my art there for my classroom!

  2. These posters are mesmerizing. I can’t pick a favorite. Even the styles vary. Just … wow. Timmy, you’re gifted in so many ways. Thank you for sharing yourself with others. Onward and upward! 🙂

  3. Thanks for the awesome comment, Michael. The word mesmerizing is perfect to describe Timmy’s artwork.

  4. Stunning art. Not at all surprised by the fact that Timmy’s talent always amazes me. What a fantastic collection of beauty.
    I loved the black bird the very best ❤

  5. Anna- that is my favorite, too. I mean, I think it just looks awesome as a poster. All of the others are gorgeous, but this one makes a perfect sign.

  6. WOW just WOW I new Timmy was an artist but he outshines in so many areas, from oils to pencil, water colour to charcoal. Amazing art amazing young man ❤

  7. Beautiful art from a beautiful soul. Timmy, you did an outstanding job!

  8. Timmy is such a huge inspiration to so many in so many ways. Timmy, along with his talents, are proof that a Phoenix can, and indeed does, rise from the ashes. Thank you Mia, for sharing. And you Timmy, for being you.

  9. Mia, your post is utterly amazing and infinitely beautiful. Thank you for helping to give a little boy back his life.

    Timmy, I couldn’t be prouder of you. You are an amazing and talented young man, and will go far in life. Your artwork is priceless.

    To the both of you, and a friendship raised from the ashes of tragedy and shared pain, I commend you both for never giving up, and living life to the fullest. Bravo!

  10. These are wonderful!!!!! Outstanding, exceptional, magnificent, splendid!!…I’m running out of words to describe them! Timmy is an amazing artist!
    Are any one of these for sale? I would be interested in buying one!

  11. I want to again thank Mia for the chance to work with her. I was a truly honored that you would ask me. There are many thoughts and emotions that I have from the way I lived before. One thing is to be mistrustful. I don’t mistrust a person as much as their words or actions. See the issue with that is when I do art and people tell me it’s great, awesome, professional… I tend to think they are humoring me. So when Mia asked me if I could do this I wasn’t sure how good an idea it was. I mean she was gonna have to trust that I wouldn’t screw this up! I had to trust that I wouldn’t! Big scary stuff right there. I love that she stayed connected to me through the work. She kept me going because each time I showed her a new piece she told me how great it was, and I just wanted to do more and more because I loved how proud she was. I think this is a little of the reason Cody says Mia helped to give me back some of my life. (Though I am soo not a Little boy, Koti! Sorry had to add that. 🙂 )

    So poor Mia, who is kind and loving, has told you all how professional I was, but she forgot to mention a few things (because she is kind and loving!) She asked me to participate in this post. She asked me to describe my techniques with y’all. So I totally bombed out on that! I did have stuff going on but still it wasn’t very professional. I guess I got a ways to go before I get to be professional. But I sured tried and that seems to be enough for my Mia!

    Anyway, I decided to do as she asked, I’ma put how I made and what I used for each piece here. I’ma go in order by the way she shows them in this post. Please note… my art is all original only in that I made it. I am really more of an art recreated then artist I think. I can look at other art and redo it, but it is way harder for me to do original art. These are a mix. If i used someone else’s stuff found online, I’ll put that there, but I don’t know any of the artists so I’ma just say image found online.

    Rain- This was done with melted crayon on black canvas. There are a ton of images like this online, but cause you are using melted wax none of them should look the same. It is actually hard to control.

    Elephant- The one with an elephant is actually real small! I thought it cool to see it big like that. Anyway, it was do with oil paint and Q-tips. This is an original but the elephants holding trunks can be found online.

    Black bird- Um I gotta tell ya, I actually asked Mia not to use this one when I first showed her. She said she loved it so I said ok, but notice the blue around the bird’s head? That drives me nuts! It was on purpose but didn’t turn out the was I was hoping. I’m sure I saw this online at some point but when I made it it was just a picture in my head. So I don’t know if I can claim original. (This happens to me sometimes, because my brain retains pictures.)
    The Boat- This was so fun to do! So I got a glass frame and used glue and acrylic ink to make the stainglass on the back. When it dries (omg this took forever. Like a week!) I used acrylic paint to paint the boat on the front of the glass. This was original.

    Girl- Ok so anyone online has seen this image. I really loved it though, so decided to do it. This is done in all colored pencil.

    Colored trees- This painting is done on a flat canvas. It has layers to it. First I used black and white Gesso. I used the black for closser up trees and added a bit of white to each layer of tree going back. So it looks far away. Then I used water to thin down my acrylic paint to make like a glaze to go over the tree. I saw this on-line and really thought it looked cool.

    Beach- This was painted with acrylic for the base, but it is made with actual colored sand. So the whole canvas has sand on it. It was fun to do and original.

    Green forest- This was done with acrylic painted with brushes and sponges. Original, though I may have seen the image before.

    Butterflies- The butterflies are awesome, and I love to take credit for them but I can’t they were pre-made and bought at art store. But all the rest is my work. It was done with doilies and spray paint.

    Black forest- This was awesome to do and the only one I can say I know the real artists name! Bob Ross! So if ya’ll want to paint this there is a demo online. I cheated and only used the image, so I don’t know if I did mine the same as him. I get bored watching other people paint. Everyone tells me to watch youtube to learn and it never works well. I always lose interest. This whole painting was painted with only 2 colors or paint, black and white Gesso. Super fun.

  12. Thank you Timmy for explaining this. I could see you had used different techniques for each but having you talk me through just increases my awe and pleasure in your work. ❤ Be proud ❤

  13. TIMMY!!! Thanks for the awesome descriptions of your techniques—but now the whole world knows your secrets!!! (I guess that’s okay…) It is interesting for people to read how you created each unique piece. I am proud of your work, selfishly happy that you did it for ME, and excited that the ART IS NOW OUT THERE TO BE APPRECIATED BY EVERYONE!! You are truly amazing. I am so happy to have you in my life. You give me hope and inspire me on my journey. SO THANK YOU, MY FRIEND!!! ALL OF THE BEST THING IN THE WORLD WILL COME YOUR WAY!!! ❤ ❤ ❤

  14. Thank you Cody and everybody who has commented. What happiness I feel as I read each remark. What a great day!!

  15. What an amazing post, Mia. Thanks so much for sharing Timmy’s art. He is an incredible (and modest) talent. If anyone is qualified to capture life’s journey in art, it is our Timmy. And thank you, Timmy,for sharing your art with us. It is beautiful and inspiring.

  16. What beautiful, though-provoking artwork. And I love how the art highlights the quotations. I am extremely impressed. Thank you for sharing these pictures with us. I’ve looked at them three times now today. 🙂

  17. Mel- I am so privileged to be the recipient of Timmy’s amazing talent. (And I know it… hehe)

  18. Again, these comments are so honest and thoughtful and they warm my heart!! Thank you for contributing to this wonderful moment!

  19. These are absolutely beautiful. When I read Cody’s comment of a ‘little boy’ I remember that Timmy has been in our community, growing, for several years. I bet he is not so ‘little’ anymore. I am so glad that he has been allowed to grow, bloom, and express himself as he feels. Thank you Cody, for bringing Timmy to us. And Mia Kerick, you are awesome for the nurturing and loving that you do. I am looking forward to seeing you in Denver!

  20. These are some of the most beautiful and most powerful pieces of art I’ve ever seen. Mia, you are so very blessed to have Timmy create for you. Timmy, you my friend, are talented beyond words. I can see any or all of these on my walls and never get tired of looking at them. It’s really hard to choose, but my favorite is the Colored Trees. It’s a powerful painting and I’m drawn to the image time and again. I literally have a hard time taking my eyes off of it.

  21. Wow…Mia and Timmy!..just WOW! You two amaze me. This is such a beautiful post in so many ways. Such beautiful art Timmy.
    Mia, you are a courageous and brave women to tackle a keynote speech. I’m sure like everything I’ve read from your works, your speech was spectacular!
    And Timmy…YOU ARE AMAZING!!!
    Let me say that again Timmy…YOU ARE AMAZING!!!
    Your art work really touched me. I love them all, but my favorite was the rain ☔️.
    So proud for you both !
    So envious of you both!
    Great job to you both.🏆🎨

  22. These are all so lovely, especially ‘Rain’. The color is amazing! Such a beautiful post, Mia, and thank you for showing us these bigger images of Timmy’s work. If Timmy ever decides to open an Etsy shop *hint, hint* I’m there! 🙂

  23. Your artwork is beautiful Timmy! If I were to pick a favorite, it would be the bird with the blue accent – that is perfect! ❤ You are so talented and I hope that your art gives you as much satisfaction as the viewer. Mia, your post is wonderful and thank you for sharing your experience 🙂 You both are inspirational!

  24. Loved reading Timmy’s process and techniques! I know all about how your life gets consumed by other things! You continue to inspire me, Timmy! ❤️

  25. It is wonderful to see how many people enjoyed Timmy’s art and the story of our collaboration. Thanks for the wonderful comments!

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