Such a blast getting to visit with my friend and fellow artist Ashley Woodson Bailey. She made her fame with her dark and moody floral prints. Since her first art pieces in 2014 were discovered and snatched up by designers, art lovers, and celebrities she has branched out and is now giving us opportunities to put flowers on our couches, walls and bodies in the form of huge, moody blooms and clever flora and fauna. My favorite art piece of hers, Syd, hangs over our fireplace. I cherish it.
What makes Ashley amazing at what she does is her awareness and sensitivity to the life span of flowers and their juxtaposition and relationship with each other. And she captures it all with an iPhone.
Ashley describes herself as a phoenix rising from the ashes every day. It’s a beautiful way to honor the strength that it took to get back up, after a debilitating car accident years ago forced her to change her career path from a high profile florist to artist and photographer.
We caught up over the phone on our children’s similar ages and stations in life, having husbands that are better at math than we are and how Ashley balances being a successful artist with being a mom of 3 in “vacation town”.
Ashley‘s initial mission for her business was to “fill the world full of flowers.” Flowers are a reminder of good things and bad: your first date to the prom or a funeral. Flowers can create lasting memories of someone or some event and she captures this forever with her photography.
Part of her creative process of late has been to celebrate the female form. Whether it’s portraits of her daughters and their friends who are just growing into themselves or seeing the parallels between a beautiful flower that is aging and a woman who’s come into her own in her 50's, Ashley sees the beauty in all ages.
Here's our Q&A:
Kate: Ashley, tell me about the women who have influenced you in your life.
Ashley: Probably the two biggest influences are my mother and my grandmother Toody Byrd. I named my daughter after her.
Kate: Tell us about your mom.
Ashley: My mom is a force of nature. Loves me fiercely. Always very beautifully put together. Loves clothing. Loves her family most of all. My grandmother, Toody Byrd, passed away last April. She lived a long and wonderful life. She was the most entertaining woman I’ve ever known - she knew everyone in the room, told a story better than anyone else and always had a Coke in her hand.
Kate: I love how we get these gifts of women in our lives who differ in such ways, and that difference teaches us so many different aspects of being a woman. It's so interesting how we remember our grandmothers' generation as such bright, colorful characters. Tell me a few nuggets of wisdom that you've gained from these women.
Ashley: Number one, my mother taught me to always be on time. I am never late. Number two, always make my bed. When I actually follow mom’s advice, it feels like my day is in order and flows better. I feel more active.
My grandmother called me a butterfly and encouraged me to always continue to be a butterfly, that means to be myself - and don’t make any exceptions.
Grandmother was very strong and independent; she always worked. When my mother had the opportunity, she also showed that women can work outside of the home. I think that taught me that it’s OK to be female and have a job - it’s OK to be strong.
She taught me that life is messy; things change all the time. You have to be resilient.
It’s important to teach your children to be kind. It’s not necessarily something that people are naturally born with; it has to become a practice.
Kate: Crazy to think how many lessons we caught when they might not have been trying to teach them. What the heck do you think our girls would say if Eloise interviews Byrd someday about the lessons we are teaching them? I'd like to hope they would say that it's a gift to be creative and that creating is what makes the world more beautiful.
Check out Ashley's amazing blooms on her site: https://www.awblove.com/