Write to legislators with resistance postcards

Many of you are writing to your legislators expressing concerns regarding a plethora of topics deeply impacted by new leadership and proposed policy change. Thank you! If you’d like to add powerful visual messages to your snail mail efforts, Kelly Beall, the mastermind behind Design Crush, has made over 40 illustrated resistance postcards available for download on her website (here are the latest 17 and the original 24 postcards), including the one below from yours truly and a few of my person favorites from Brandy Marie Little and Allison Glancey of Strawberryluna respectively.

Pittsburgh artist Ashley Cecil's resistance postcard design for Design Crush


Strawberryluna's design for Design Crush's #resistance postcards

Happy resisting!

Commemorating Judith Kasdan

Judith Kasdan Scholarship

Earlier this year, I had the great honor of creating an award to memorialize one of Pittsburgh’s outstanding residents. Judith Kasdan, as her daughters describer her, “taught in the Pittsburgh Public Schools, owned a children’s shoe boutique, served as President of the National Council of Jewish Women, and earned her Law degree at age 56, subsequently passing the bar exam and serving as an Allegheny County Public Defender. She was a fierce supporter of programs to improve the lives of women and children and had a keen motivation to make the world a better place.”

To honor Judi, her three daughters established several memorial projects. One is an annual staff recognition award for an employee of the Hillman Cancer Center where Judi was a patient. Another is a scholarship at the Duquesne University School of Law where Judi earned her J.D.

It was a heart-warming process to work with Judi’s daughters to create a design with visual elements that symbolically represented her spirit. I was also thrilled to be able to use my current style of painting for what will be fabricated into a free-standing award.

Green Figbird on Blue

Knowing that I would have an unused original painting at the end of this project, I decided to push the artwork beyond what I needed for the award design. The image directly above is the finished painting, including a Green Fig-bird and a design in 22k gold.


In laying out the elements of this painting, I had to be very careful about where the Green Fig-bird was placed because I didn’t want it to overlap with anything else so that the bird could be easily removed for the award design in Photoshop. This required cutting out the bird drawn by hand on craft paper. This allowed me to move the bird around on the painting so I could decide where it looked best before committing to its final spot. Once in place, I lightly traced around the paper silhouette with paint and then went to work rendering the bird. The rest was freehanded around it.

Now the Kasdan’s have a personal design to commemorate their mother and recognize deserving medical staff and law students. And I have a new painting (and print) available, which you can see in person it at the Three Rivers Arts Festival!

Bucket list commission: Early Times Mint Julep bottle


2014 Early Times Mint Julep bottleMy personal bucket list includes “make a painting for the label of a bourbon bottle.” It may seem obscure, but I hail from Louisville, Kentucky, and bourbon is to Louisville what ketchup is to Pittsburgh.

Several years ago, I pursued this dream and tried getting my foot in the door with the big wine and spirits producer in my home town. No bourbon label came of it, although some fantastic alternatives unfolded. I dropped the ball, moved first to London, then to Pittsburgh, and, well, just forgot about it.

Then last year, the Brown-Forman Corporation contacted me to gauge my interest in contending for the commission to create a painting for the label of the 2014 Early Times Mint Julep bottle.  Keep in mind, this is the official drink of the Kentucky Derby; over 120,000 mint juleps will be served the week of Derby at Churchill Downs alone. When I got the phone call informing me that I was selected for the commission, I started to look around the room for hidden cameras, thinking it must be a really mean prank that was being caught on tape.

It turns out it wasn’t a prank, and I did create the painting last fall (progress shots are below for your viewing pleasure). It has been very difficult not to talk about it until now, but thank goodness the word is out! Just yesterday (within one day of the press release), the bottle was featured on WDRB and Louisville Business First, and it got a quick blurb on Shaken News Daily.

This is just the beginning. I’ll be in Louisville the week prior to the big race, promoting the product at Dawn at the Downs and bottle signing events. I also hear talk of billboards and taxi ads. Pinch me, and cheers to checking things off the bucket list!

ET label sketch-winners circle-sm   2014 ET bottle artwork-progress shot 1-500x332px 2014 ET bottle artwork-progress shot 3-500x332px 2014 ET bottle artwork-progress shot 5-500x332px2014 ET bottle artwork-final

2014 ET bottle artwork-painting in progress

Editorial illustration for NTEN’s Change Journal

NTEN March '14 Change Journal cover illustration

Years of focusing the content of this blog on charitable causes and organizations has resulted in many wonderful friendships with nonprofit professionals. Sometimes those friendships have led to new work, which is the case with this editorial illustration for the cover of the Nonprofit Technology Network’s Change Journal (“A Quarterly Journal for Nonprofit Leaders”). The full issue isn’t available until later this month, but you’re in the camp of lucky folks who can get a sneak preview here.

I’ll be creating the cover artwork for all four of the 2014 issues, so why not sign up to receive each of them, for free no less!

Cover art for Democracy and Leadership


There’s nothing like being paid multiple times for the same painting. Indeed, licensing is one of the beautiful things about being an illustrator, which is why I was thrilled to be asked by Eric Thomas Weber to license a painting from a few years back for the cover of his latest book, Democracy and Leadership: On Pragmatism and Virtue. I bet those of you who started following my work back in my “Painting Activist” days would enjoy it, so check it out.


Adorning the cover of Pittsburgh Quarterly


There’s nothing like standing in line at Whole Foods, browsing the magazine selections and spotting one fine publication sporting your artwork on the cover (it puts me in a better mood before finding out how much I owe the cashier for my fancy almond milk and strawberries imported from Chile).

This was an exciting illustration commissioned by Pittsburgh Quarterly, which required a little ornithology research since the art director specified that only birds native to Western Pennsylvania should be included – hence the beautiful Cedar Waxwing, Northern Cardinal and Red-Breasted Nuthatch.

The overall design was meant to have a holiday feel without becoming dated by February when the next issue is due out. How did I do?