I am 225: Ashtin McNicoll

Painting is Ashtin McNicoll’s saving grace. After her best friend, Emily, died in January 2018 from a blood clot, the 24-year-old was depressed and couldn’t sleep. To keep her mind busy during her sleepless nights, she started painting photos from her phone’s camera roll in her Beauregard Town dining room.

She never imagined light would later come from the darkness. In May 2018, McNicoll posted paintings of her mother’s and mother-in-law’s homes on social media. They were a hit. Friends and family started asking her for their own home portraits, and before she knew it, she had a list of orders.

Today, the Louisiana native is the owner of Made to Paint, an online business that specializes in personalized gifts and art. She makes hand-painted portraits of homes, animals, businesses, churches, stadiums, families and friends.

McNicoll paints on wood boards, canvas, paper and graduation caps. She primarily uses acrylic paints and paint pens to bring her pieces to life.

Some of her most popular creations include wooden Coach Ed Orgeron Christmas ornaments. The ornaments feature a painted photo of a proud Coach O after beating the Alabama football team in 2019. Above his head, it reads “Geaux Tigahs,” in the coach’s signature Cajun accent.

Her home portraits are also popular—and as unique as the individual homes being painted. McNicoll studies a photo of her client’s house and then paints it on a wood board, looking for specific details that tell the home’s story, like the home’s colors, plant life and porch decor.

Made to Paint pieces are sold all over the world. McNicoll has customers everywhere from North Carolina to Europe. Locally, people can shop her stadium portraits and Coach O ornaments in-person at the Lafayette gift shop, The Silver Suitcase. For other handcrafted items, customers can shop on her website. Iammadetopaint.com

“I’m just genuinely shocked at how far this business has come, and I praise God for every order and every person I’ve worked with. I know good and well Emily would be simultaneously congratulating and picking on me. She and I always gave each other a hard time out of love.”

This article was originally published in the August 2020 issue of 225 Magazine.