Ashley has been an artist since she declared herself one at the age of 5. She grew up in Middlebury Vermont. Ashley's ties to Vermont remain strong and she still spends part of every year in Middlebury. Even as a high school student, Ashley planted a huge vegetable garden and had a “hot” compost pile in a chicken wire cage. She received her BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1979 and her first job after college was working as a graphic artist at a small newspaper in Vermont. There she met her husband, Sabin Russell and together they moved to San Francisco in 1980.