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Cheerleader paints positive messages in her art

If a picture is indeed worth a thousand words, then Rock Canyon graduate Ashley Bradley certainly has a lot to say.

If a picture is indeed worth a thousand words, then Rock Canyon graduate Ashley Bradley certainly has a lot to say.

In her four years at the Highlands Ranch school, the bubbly cheerleader could often be seen on the sidelines, rooting the Jaguars to victory. She, herself, is also a state champion, having helped the Jags claim back-to-back 5A spirit titles in 2014 and 2015.

But Bradley also has a different, more imaginative side.

"Everyone said I had two completely different personalities. I was the cheerleader, and then I would all of the sudden be this artsy, edgy person," she said. "I loved both parts. They were both me."

That other side was painting, and over the past few years, Bradley has proven herself to be a rising star in the art community. Her pieces have won local and national contests, and as a result, have been featured in the Denver Art Museum, Parson School of Design in New York and even the U.S. Capitol.

Some of those works have come from her latest portfolio, which focuses on body image and self-love. Through her paintings, Bradley has sought to spread a message of accepting oneself, and ignoring other people's standards.

"I've really found a way that can express a message that really means something to me," she said. "I have struggled with [body image] growing up, you know, high school and middle school are very tough. You just felt the pressure to be perfect, and be something you really weren't, so this has really helped me cope with that idea."

Perhaps some of the success of her paintings is the relatability factor. Bradley says her teammates have cheered on her message.

"They definitely look at it and [say], 'Yeah, that makes perfect sense with where we're at in our lives," she said.

Without question, Bradley has a natural gift, and one that runs in the family. Her twin sister is musically talented, while her older sister has found a niche in photography. While Bradley enjoyed drawing and sketching growing up, she didn't take an art class until high school.

"I just found I was good at the projects and really enjoyed doing them," she said.

That led Bradley to develop a passion for art that led her to take every art class that was offered at Rock Canyon. By the time her senior year had arrived, she had run out of courses to take. Instead of stopping, Bradley signed up for an independent study so she could continue her passion.

This fall, Bradley will enroll at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she will continue to pursue a career in oil painting.

"Art is definitely what I plan to do," she said. " I plan on that for a profession. I want to prove everyone wrong and break that stereotype that everyone has of a starving artist, that you can't really make a living that way."

Bradley has already begun that process, selling off some of her art before she heads to college.

To view her artwork, you can visit, www.ashleybradleyart.com. To see the online store, click here.

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