An Amazing Thing Happened!
Posted on August 29 2018
A few years ago, my sister Mary Clayton suggested I follow an artist on Instagram. So knowing that she is up on all things hip and cool, of course I followed her advice. What I found was the most inspirational, and encouraging artist, Ashley Longshore.
Ashley is originally from Montgomery, AL. I read her story, I ordered her book, I followed her religiously every day on Instagram. I love how she has risen above rejection, how she proved all the people wrong who said she wasn't "marketable". Hers is the quintessential success story- on STEROIDS!
Not only is she marketable, but she has done it all herself. No galleries taking half her money, nobody helping her- just HER. She has her own gallery in New Orleans now, and her paintings sell for tens of thousands of dollars- yes, like $40,000 and more.
In February this year, Bergdorf's in New York had their first one woman show ever and gave the entire 7th floor over to Ashley and her art for the entire month. It was wildly successful. They even decorated their windows with her art, it was epic!
If that isn't enough, because of how successful that was, Bergdorf's made her their artist in residence and let her completely design her own cafe there, including some menu items. It is aptly named "Palette" and it is beautiful!
She has collaborations with so many different HUGE brands like Judith Leiber and Rolex for instance. She is a force, and it just keeps getting better and better!
Anyway, I had started my "Throws a Party" series and done Andy Warhol and Jimmy Buffett and was trying to decide who to do next. And then it hit me- why not pay tribute to the ONE person who has inspired me the most! She has kept me going with her incredible encouraging posts ever since I started painting full time again. Even though believing in myself has never really been a problem- she takes it to a whole new level, and has PROVEN that it works so I decided I could too!
After becoming a major super-stalker for several days, I began drawing out her painting. I knew enough from following her for so long what things she liked to paint the most, who her "people" were, her father, her husband and her precious team. I dove in and it is by far the hardest thing I have ever painted. Mainly, because up until then, I had never really painted people to LOOK like who they are. Even my Warhol and Buffett paintings were more impressionistic. It took me a couple of months- painting all day, every day, but I truly believed that she would love it and hoped beyond hope that she would buy it.
When I was finally finished, I decided to post it on Instagram, with little hope that she would even see it because, she doesn't follow me and even with tagging her- I am sure that happens a million times a day and she certainly doesn't have time to look at all those. I did tag the girls in her team though and hoped they might see it and show her. I posted it and closed Instagram.
I called my mother, like I do every morning and hadn't been talking to her on the phone for more than two minutes when I started hearing the beeping from text messages- I looked at the first one, which was from my daughter and it said "Mom! Did you see on your Instagram, Ashley wants to BUY your painting." Needless to say I had to tell Mama to hang on, I would call her back and went to look. The first few comments were from her team, they were going crazy! Then about the fifth or sixth comment was from Ashley- "Call me please, I want this". I honestly couldn't believe it, even though I DID believe it was going to happen and told myself that the entire time I was painting it. So I did what any normal person would do....no, I didn't call her....I said there and cried and cried and cried. Tears of joy, happiness and elation. I was completely overwhelmed and that does not happen to me often.
One of her team Patri, who is a hoot herself and I adore, sent me a message with her number and told me to call, that Ashley wanted to talk to me. I told her I would when I could get control of myself, and finally I did. Ashley is as incredible in "real life" as she is on social media. She was THRILLED, she was EXCITED and she really did want to buy it... and she did!
She asked how I was going to get it to her, because she was leaving in about a week and a half to go on a month long painting sabbatical and wanted to have it there while she was gone because she was having her whole third floor redone in her house and wanted it to go there. (OMG OMG!! my painting hanging in her house! Not that I thought she was going to buy it and put it in the garage- but STILL!!) I told her that I would really like to bring it- I had been to her gallery a couple of years earlier and she wasn't there, and I REALLY wanted to meet her in person. She said GREAT! We set a date for Wednesday of the next week and off Alan and I went!
I can't even begin to describe the feelings, the excitement. Just walking in her gallery is enough, full to the brim with her paintings and sculptures and all the cute and wonderful people on her team, who I was so excited to meet. But then, out she came and unwrapped her painting and was so genuinely excited and noticed EVERYTHING that I had worked so hard to make sure I got right. Her words were "I'm obsessed". There is nothing more I could ever wish for as a reaction to something I painted. She hugged me- multiple times, we laughed, we talked and I was once again overwhelmed.
Here are the videos of her opening and looking at it.
For someone that is as busy and as successful as Ashley is, it is amazing how she TRULY GENUINE she is. She really does LOVE artists and she supports them, not only by encouraging them, but by BUYING their art. She loves her collectors, she took time with everyone that was in her gallery, whether they were buying or not, even though I know she was super busy that day.
She is everything she appears to be on her social media, which is VERY rare from what I have found. NOT one thing about her is fake. She is EXACTLY who she is and I LOVE her for that. I admire her, I stand in awe of her talent, she makes no excuses, she works like a demon and she deserves every bit of success she has and can take all the credit for it, because she did it herself.
Yep, I am a fan girl. But most of all I owe it to Ashley for continually reminding me to believe I can do whatever I want and do it on my terms. I really like that.
And you should follow her and the girls on her team- they will make your Instagram so much more fun to check!
@ashleylongshoreart @patrisuarez @kategracebauer @ninathedesigna @addypeyton @nowwhorunninthangs @thebitchopotamus