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On a recent five-week creative sabbatical, Sarah Ashley Longshore operated almost exclusively on instinct, like a woman possessed. “I would wake up in the morning, and before I even made a cup of coffee, I would have a 54 by 54 canvas on an easel,” she recalls. “I don't even know what was driving me to do that!”

The loquacious, red-lipped artist of 20 years, who goes by her middle name, considers her works much more than paint on canvas. They are a part of her, of the way she sees the world. “If I have an idea coming together in my mind, I paint it,” she explains. “And I will work like a wild woman for it!”

 

Every deliberate brush stroke announces who Ashley is, as an artist and a person. She is the kind of woman you’d like to have as a friend, complete with unexpected pops of color, dry wit and a finger on the pulse of current culture. “I will rebel against anybody who says I cannot dosomething, because that is what I will do, dammit,” exclaims Ashley, who, after teaching Blake to paint, has adapted her paintings into an exclusive line of pillows for PRESERVE. The collection is an homage to the gems women have treasured since the Egyptian era.

 

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“I was a terrible child,” she confesses. “I was grounded for a whole summer once.” All those hours of sitting quietly only served as a catalyst to her creativity. She first began expressing herself in musical theater, but it wasn’t until she attended the University of Montana that she experienced love at first sight—with a paintbrush. “I picked up a paintbrush and it was like a time vacuum,” she recalls. “I couldn’t get enough.”

Looking back, the New Orleans-based wild child notes that she became a painter simply because it felt right, which is a theme that lives on in her current work. “That's how I know when I like what I'm doing,” she says. “There's a feeling in my soul.” Maybe that’s why, when we gaze at her paintings, our spirits are stirred in turn.

 

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Photography by Bryan Rowland, Rhett Lewis, Kathryn Barnard.

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