Art for the ArtFund, Sunflowers from Adam

8″x10″ framed oil on board
Email for purchase inquiries

I was at the Courtauld Gallery today to see “Cezanne’s Card Players” exhibition and visit one of my favorite pieces in the gallery’s permanent collection. I thought it was fitting to make the donation from the sale of this painting to the ArtFund, a registered UK charity and donor to the Courtauld. They,

“campaign,  fundraise and give money to museums and galleries to buy and show art, and promote its enjoyment through  our events and membership scheme.”

I hope to get involved with the ArtFund this year. What a perfect combination of my love for the visual arts and nonprofits!

Be a part of World Habitat Day 2010

8″x10″ framed oil on board
Not for sale.

Fortunately, it has been brought to my attention by friends at Habitat for Humanity that October 4th is World Habitat Day. This international day of awareness has been initiated by the United Nations to rally support behind both organizations’ efforts to improve health and housing conditions for families in need.   Habitat for Humanity provided me with powerful facts and statistics about the impact of stable housing, including these select few highlights:

  • Children younger than 5 living in Habitat for Humanity houses in Malawi showed a 44 percent reduction in malaria, respiratory or gastrointestinal diseases compared with children living in traditional houses.
  • Children of homeowners are more likely to stay in school (by 7 to 9 percent), and daughters of homeowners are less likely to have children by age 18 (by 2 to 4 percent). (Green and White: 1996)
  • Homeowners are more likely to know their U.S. representative (by 10 percent) and school board head by name (by 9 percent), and are more likely to vote in local elections (by 15 percent) and work to solve local problems (by 6 percent). (DiPasquale and Glaeser: 1998)

To contribute to Habitat for Humanity’s work, you can donate by clicking here. You can also find out how to get involved in a number of activities specific to October 4th by searching by location here. And as always, a portion of the proceeds from the sale of this painting will be contributed to the cause.

“Louisville Counts!” benefiting Art Sparks

24″x30″ oil on canvas

While dropping  off  this portrait to my client (Gill Holland of  the Green Building)  I discovered a connection between the portrait and another project Gill has involved me in.   It turns out the children’s book I have been  asked to contribute another piece of artwork to is dedicated to the subject of this portrait, his daughter Cora.

Louisville Counts cover

The book, “Louisville Counts! A Children’s Counting & Art Book,” is a project that assembled 22 artists to create unique, child-friendly pieces of art to accompany 22 pieces of Louisville trivia. Each piece corresponds with a specific number, from 0-21, encouraging the reader to count their way through the book using everything from Muth’s Candies to baseball bats to Olmsted parks and even disco balls.

All 22 pieces  will be  on display September 4th – 25th at the Green Building Gallery and  sold in a silent auction  that runs for the duration  of the show. All proceeds from all sales of the book, as well as the gallery’s share of the sales of the corresponding artworks, go directly to Art Sparks Interactive Gallery, the children’s gallery at The Speed Art Museum.

Participating artists include: Chris Radtke, Nico Jorcino, Jacob Heustis, Cynthia Reynolds, Natasha Sud, Monica Mahoney, Gibbs Rounsavall, Bryce Hudson, Amanda Bishop, J.B. Wilson, McKinley Moore, Julius Friedman, Lloyd Kelly, Russel Hulsey, Billy Hertz, Letitia Quesenberry, Thea Lura, Sarah Lyon, Valerie Fuchs, Skylar Smith, and Stephen Irwin.

I’ll be at the opening reception on Friday, September 4th, which is a First Friday Trolley Hop (for you wine moochers out there).   I hope to see you there.

Champions 4 Her 2009 in T-minus 10 days

For months, eleven artists have been creating beautiful street paintings designs with clients and staff from the nonprofit partners of the Norton Women’s Pavilion Champions 4 Her Festival.   These designs will be translated onto the sidewalk of Witherspoon at Water Front Park the morning of Saturday, June 20th, which coincides with a 5k walk/run.

Last year’s event and street paintings were a huge success.   The goal was to raise $100,000 for the participating nonprofit partners, but instead over $170,000 was allocated to the organizations.

Join us this year to see the street paintings unfold at your feet, participate as a walker/runner, and check out all of the educational/health booths.   You can register here for the 5k.

And thank you to the artists for all of their hard work and service:

Pet pampering and fundraising

12″x12″ oil on canvas, $400 ($50 donated to The Kentucky Humane Society)
See all artwork available for sale.
By guest writer, Allison Strickland, PR & Marketing Coordinator for the Kentucky Humane Society

The Kentucky Humane Society (KHS) has several exciting events coming up in the next few weeks: Dog Day at the Park as well as the 15th annual WAGGIN’ TRAIL 5K. Both events are a great way to take advantage of some of the venues our community offers, while at the same time providing socialization and fun for dogs.

I’ve never been to DOG DAY AT THE PARK, but I am extremely excited that I’ve been able to help coordinate this year’s event. The Louisville Bats and Your Community Bank sponsor an evening where dog owners can bring their pet to watch a baseball game. Best of all, it’s $1 hot dog and soft drink night! More importantly though, the money raised from the sale of canine tickets goes to KHS.

Even before I started working for KHS, I participated in the WAGGIN’ TRAIL 5K. Although I ran the race for the past several years, there are lots of things to do at the event that don’t require exercising. I’ve always enjoyed visiting the various vendor booths, especially the KHS booth featuring adoptable pets. In addition, throughout the day there are family-friendly activities like behavior demos, contests, music and food. There really is something for everyone at the WAGGIN’ TRAIL 5K.

I’ve always had a passion for animals, and I am proud to work for an organization that makes it a priority to provide events that strengthen the human and animal bond. Here are details about our upcoming events:

Dog Day at the Park
Tuesday, April 14
Louisville Slugger Field
Gates open at 6 p.m. Game starts at 7:05 p.m.
Click here to download a ticket order form.

Saturday, May 9
E.P. “Tom” Sawyer State Park
Register here

Kentucky Humane Society
241 Steedly Drive
Louisville, KY 40214
(502) 366-3355
DONATE NOW at to support needy animals in our community.

Call for Louisville artists

Yes, it’s merely November 08, but I’m already gearing up for next year’s Champions 4 Her.   The annual festival will take place on June 20th, 09 and my team of artists will be expanding by a few.

Champions 4 Her is an umbrella fundraiser for multiple local nonprofits that serve women and girls. The 08 walk/run festival raised over $162,000 and we pulled off a phenomenal series of vibrant street paintings that engaged community participants from each of the nonprofits benefiting from money raised.   The artwork was a tremendous attraction to the event, which wouldn’t have been possible without the professional artists who worked with each of the groups to design and create the street paintings.

I’m looking for a few more visual artists who are interested in participating as a street painting facilitator.   It entails meeting with the group you will be assigned to at their facilities for a series of sessions to collaboratively create a final design of what will go onto the pavement at Water Front Park the day of the event.   Each group will consist of some combination of clients of the organization, volunteers, and/or staff (few of whom will have any artistic experience).   This is not an opportunity for artists to showcase their own work.   The objective is to guide your group through the art-making process and give them creative license.

There are plenty more details, such as the stipend and so on.   If you are interested, or know someone how may be, please send me an email at ashley.cecil (at)

‘Women of Mass Construction,’ Whitten Montgomery

11″ x 14″’ oil on masonite board.
A donation from sold painting will be made to the Women’s Second Chance Scholarship Fund.

Gallery caption:

Kids Acting Against Cancer (KAAC) raises money to help the fight against cancer primarily through ticket sales to youth musical performances.

Whitten, and her sister Jaclyn, founded KAAC out of their dream to help kids and their families suffering from cancer. Inspired by their mother, Sandy (an 11 year cancer survivor), their mission is to literally act to help find the cure. The girls, along with countless other children of all ages, have put on musical productions to raise money for the charity. In addition to entertaining, they have distributed backpacks and gift packs to sick children locally as well as made generous donations to several cancer charities.

Whitten’s quote in the painting:

I wanted to find a way to use acting to help my mom. It started as something to keep our minds of it. For the first performance 30 people came and paid $3 to see us perform ‘Annie’ in my basement. To date we’ve raised $250,000 (she’s 18 years old).

First ‘Champions 4 Her’ sets a high standard

I could hardly believe my eyes as I turned 360 degrees on Saturday to witness the behemoth project I had spent so many months coordinating unfold onto the pavement in vivid color.   This street painting festival was part of the first annual Champions 4 Her walk/run festival benefiting 10 Kentucky charities serving women and girls.

The goal was to raise $100,000.   1,680 runners, 75+ community street art participants, 9 local artists, and 1 international renowned street painter later we raised more than $150,000.   Not too shabby for a first go, eh?   To see more event photos, go to my flickr account.

Not even a week has past and I’m already hearing a buzz about being tasked with breaking a street painting Guinness World Record next year (hopefully donations raised are proportional).

Countdown to ‘Champions 4 Her’

I have spent at least the past six months coordinating the street art festival for an upcoming umbrella fundraiser for 10 Louisville nonprofits. One week from today (Saturday, June 21), ‘Champions 4 Her‘ walk/run will launch its first year at Waterfront Park.

Initially, I was asked to scout and hire an internationally renowned madonnaro (street painter) to set the festival apart from the plethora of other walk/runs in the city. I loved the idea, but immediately thought of the truly unique opportunity the concept of a street painting festival afforded clients of the 10 organizations we were raising money for. I agreed to find a feature artist for the event to draw in the media, but pitched the additional idea of having each of the beneficiary partner organizations create their own amateur street paintings depicting how their respective nonprofit assisted women and girls in our community.

The idea was not hard to sell, and soon I was also hiring a team of local artists to guide the novice nonprofit participants through the process of a creating a roughly 8′ x 12′ chalk pastel painting in one day.

I saw a lot of wide eyes as I sat in on the introductory meetings between the art teams and the artist they were paired with. This is the first time many of the participants have been to exposed to the visual arts on this level. Working with a full-time professional artist has really expanded their perception of the abilities of the arts to impact a community.

Within a few weeks I was getting concept sketches of each group’s final design. It has been such a treat to get photos in my email inbox and snail-mailbox of the art they’re designing.

You can support these wonderful organizations by registering yourself or a team to do the walk/run, or just come by and see the art in action.

I did of course hire a feature professional artist for the main street painting. Her name is Tracy Lee Stum and she will start on her piece the Wednesday before the event. Feel free to stop by Waterfront Park during the day to see her at work. She (and the other street paintings) will be in the parking lot in front of Joe’s Crab Shack.   See you June 21!

Sharpen your vocab, feed the hungry

Confession: I have a knack for an embarrassingly horrific use of the English language. I think I was in my twenties when someone politely pointed out that I was pronouncing “fruition” as “fruitation.” I’ve downloaded an extension on my web browser that highlights all misspelled words in every application on my laptop. I’ve come to feel handicapped when I’m on someone else’s computer.

In my own defense, I’m very proactive about addressing this weakness. I subscribe to multiple word-of-the-day-emails and have downloaded another plug-in that lets me right click to get the definition of unknown words. But these approaches pale in comparison to the latest tool I’ve found that does far more than flex the brain’s language muscles. FreeRice is a website where your reward for each correct multiple choice vocab questions equates to 20 grains of rice donated to feed the hungry. The donations are made possible through website advertisers. The rice is then distributed by the UN World Food Program.

Studying for the L/SAT or just readying yourself to impress a date? Fill empty bellies while you’re filling your head with new words.

Cookies for a cause

12″ x 12″ oil on canvas, $400
See all artwork available for sale.

I although I missed it this year, I got an update from my friends at the Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana on the outcome of last week’s Dessert First. Over $35,000 was raised at the box-o-cookies-meets-gourmet-ambrosia-sampling. 600 folks with a serious sweet tooth browsed and indulged in treats from 27 local restaurants.

The “Golden Whisk Award”-winning Tagalong cheesecake (a creation of The Jefferson Club) is a clear reminder of why I decided not to utilize my free press pass. Of all the Girl Scout cookies my family bought when I was a kid, Tagalongs were the only ones that ended up getting stashed in my sock drawer to keep my brother from downing them before I got my share. My willpower would have been out the window. This is my contribution to the cause 😉

Painting in progress, Desserts First 08

This Thursday evening the 24th at the Marriott Louisville Downtown, Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana will be exploiting your weakness for sweets to raise money to continue to serve over 22,00 girls in Kentucky.   As if the actual Girl Scout cookies weren’t tempting enough, Louisville finest chefs will be whipping up new gourmet creations using the tasty treats as a base ingredient.

For $50/person you can meander a ballroom filled with the most incredible culinary delights.   New Year’s resolution-ers beware.   I covered last year’s Desserts First and definitely left in a sugar coma, yet blissfully content.

Further information for tickets and online registration are available here.

A tasteful bourbon 101

2″ x 3″ watercolor in a 12″ x 12″ frame
Click here to see picture of framed painting.
See all artwork available for sale.

My college offered a single wine appreciation class per semester which was all the rave. Spots were quickly snatched by seniors with last names beginning with a favorable letter for that semester’s registration schedule. As an adult, I’ve found the allure of such sophisticated alcohol education is still present among my peers. Last year I sat in on one such post-college opportunity doubling as a fundraiser for BlackAcre Nature Preserve. Hosted at the swank yet southern Bourbons Bistro, guests were seated at tables blanketed with bourbon tumblers, each filled with a single mouthful of limited edition and “antique” bourbons. My definition of a bourbon expert was upped several notches as a bona fide bourbon historian walked us through each glass. The latter portion of the evening included a bourbon-inspired dinner prepared by the restaurant’s kitchen staff singularly devoted to pleasing our palettes.

This year’s event will be Sunday, November 4th at 5:30. The featured bourbon historian will be Mike Veach, a recent inductee into the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame. The restaurant is relatively small, so space is limited. Tickets are $100 per guest and the person to contact to reserve a seat is BlackAcre’s executive director, Katie Greene (katie.greene(at), 502-266-9802). If Sunday is to be anything like last year’s tasting, you’re in for a treat.

Fair Trade, a niche market or hand out?

5″ x 7″ watercolor in a 12″ x 15″ frame, $220 ($10 donated to Just Creations)
Click here to see picture of framed painting.

See all artwork available for sale.

Following a recent knitting demonstration given by a visiting finger puppet artisan from Peru, I found myself engaged in a healthy mental jostling with my boyfriend over a macro view of fair trade. The word “subsidy” was tossed around a few times by my business-minded debate partner. The comment section below is his space for rebuttal, but my impression of his position is that the market determines the price of a product; if there is no demand, it’s elbowed out of the market. If it’s highly valuable, the price mirrors that worth. The sustainability of fair trade was the theme of the conversation and brainstorming what model truly best serves the marginalized producers of the endless products we consume.

Within reason, you could call me a proponent of self-governing business, unencumbered by government regulation that can systematize businesses and stifle innovation and creativity. Few people would believe I actually believe that statement since most often I’m arguing for regulations that prevent large companies and other power-players from using their disproportionately heavy monetary influence to manipulate the system to work in their favor. If we can’t trust people to act morally, the government has to babysit and wag a finger at gluttonously self-serving business. We wouldn’t have offer subsidies on such a large scale if more people were given the opportunity to take care of themselves instead of being held in oppressive, compromising positions by businesses profiting massively from their labor.

I argued that if people were 1. adequately informed consumers and 2. financially able to choose more healthy and ethically produced products, the market would indeed “correct itself” and make room for products with a more equatable division of profits between producers and distributors. Only then we wouldn’t have to call it “fair trade” because that would be redundant.

There are an abundance of fair trade options for consumers to utilize as their voice in telling the market, “I want and will pay for products that ensure the producers get a fair wage.” Most cities have a fair trade retail store and multiple fair trade coffee shops (in Louisville it’s Just Creations and Heine Brothers Coffee). For online shoppers, ’tis the season (nearly) to start gift giving. Consider these fair trade suppliers as you vote with your credit card for just and fair wages to the people making your sweaters and throw pillows:

World Hunger Relief Week

5″ x 7″ watercolor in a 12″ x 15″ frame
Click here to see picture of framed painting.
Painting sold to be auctioned here on eBay to raise money for WFP.

Watching Hotel Rwanda last night and anticipating this Saturday’s visit by exiled Rwandan, King Kigeli Ndahindurwa V, has reminded me, in a roundabout way, to mention that this is World Hunger Relief Week. Yum! Brands, one of the world’s largest commercial food manufactures, has joined efforts with the United Nations World Food Programme to address this global issue. Yum! Brand’s efforts are threefold: utilize their powerful marketing capabilities to raise awareness, fundraising (in stores and online, with an additional 7% of the donated amount matched by the Yum! Foundation), and recruiting Yum! employees to volunteer at food banks, to collect donations, and more.

By pulling from Yum! customers at 35,000 restaurants in 110+ countries, the company and WFP hope to raise enough money to feed half a million people. A modest contribution can go a very long way in areas in the most dire need of food. The World Hunger Relief Week website states:

  • Giving just US$1 can help five people avoid starvation.
  • $10 can feed a hungry person for a month
  • $34 can feed a child in school for the entire academic year
  • $100 can feed a class of 25 students for a month
  • $500 can build a school garden, supplying children with fresh, nutritious produce
  • $1000 can provide emergency rations to nearly 2,000 people

I can hardly eat on $10/day, much less $10/month.

With 1 in 7 people in the world going hungry everyday, I hope you’re compelled to give while you’re out to lunch this week. If, like me, you’re not a regular customer at Yum! Brand restaurants (Taco Bell, KFC and several others), you can make an online donation by visiting