Hi Friends! Happy Spring!
Being ever so lucky to be apart of the Pittsburgh wedding industry has connected us with so many incredibly talented professionals. So genuine, so unique, and so creative. It wouldn’t be fair to keep all of these wonderfully talented people to ourselves, so…
Meet Ashley Cecil. Ashley is a Pittsburgh-based artist and illustrator specializing in paintings of flora and fauna. We stumbled upon Ashley’s floral design work and all we can say is—WOW! Her love of flora blossomed while studying landscapes with accomplished painters in London, painting live observation at Phipps Botanical Gardens, serving as an artist at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, and collaborating with various top-notch floral designers.
So, you might be wondering, what ties her to the wedding industry? Well, Ashley believes that brides should treasure their special day for a lifetime and what better way to do that than with a custom painting of their unique bridal bouquet.
Ashley is an artist that creates ‘Painted Bouquets’, and boy, are we in love. Flowers are a game changer when it comes to weddings – from bouquets and boutonnieres, to centerpieces, to flower petals down an aisle; they capture the feeling, mood, and expression of your special day. Unfortunately, more times than not, flowers get tossed, sent home with guests, or delivered to others at the end of the night when the celebration is over. You’ll cherish your memories, but why not cherish your floral designs as well? From simple to elaborate, Ashley’s stunning paintings vibrantly represent the sentiment of your wedding day and bridal bouquet.
We recently had a conversation with Ashley about what she creates, what inspires her, and more. Learn more and see for yourself – she produces amazingly beautiful work!
A & L: What first inspired you to start painting personalized wedding bouquets?
Ashley: About a year ago, while scouring the web looking for reference photos to use for new paintings of flora and fauna, I realized the majority of images I was saving were of wedding bouquets. That's when I had my ah-ha moment - I should paint actual bouquets for newly weds. It's only a slight variation on the style of paintings I create when I'm not working on commissions, and it's an excellent way to keep my botanical rendering skills sharp.
A & L: What is your favorite part about what you do?
Creating artwork for someone that captures one of the most stunning components of their big day. I've come to learn that many people dislike (dare I say hate) preserving flowers. Not only is a painting a far more vibrant representation of someone's bouquet, but it also allows for a little more creative license. For example, a bride asked me to incorporate a few visual elements from their honeymoon - what a great idea! I added a delicate pattern in 22k gold that was reminiscent of the pattern formed by the windows of the Louvre Pyramid, which they visited. I also included a crescent moon from the facade of one the buildings they stayed in.
A & L: Being in the Pittsburgh creative industry, what do you, as an artist, enjoy the most about it?
Ashley: Just about anything is possible here. My husband and I moved to Pittsburgh from London in 2011 and I immediately fell in love with the warm vibe and can-do attitude of this city. London, as much as I thoroughly enjoyed it, was exhausting and expensive in suffocating way. There's room to breathe in Pittsburgh. It's also affordable enough to take risks, like buying a building for my studio, which I did in 2016 (studio visits are encouraged!).
A & L: Because you pay such close detail to floral/flowers in your paintings, do you have any advice for future brides who are deciding on their bouquets/floral arrangements?
Ashley: Tell a story with your flowers. I'm a raving fan of 17th century Dutch still-life painting largely because the artworks made visual commentary on social and political goings-on. In other words, I love botanical symbolism. You're fluent in the language of flowers as well - what does a red rose symbolize? Love, of course. But how about a sunflower? It's thought to represent devotion. And an anemone? Grief - possibly fitting if a loved one recently passed who you want to honor at your ceremony. If you're hoping to start a family right away, ask your florist to include a pomegranate, a symbol of fertility. It will make for a wonderful story to tell future generations.
A & L: Do you have any upcoming floral trends in mind you think we will see this wedding season? / Do you have a favorite?
Ashley: I'm seeing adventurous bouquets forming dramatic and organic shapes with a broad variety of flowers. I love when a bouquet looks like someone just got back from picking flowers by hand in a garden - natural and a little messy. Also, being someone who loves dramatic value contrast (bright highlights on deep dark backgrounds, like Dutch still-life paintings) I'm really into this trend of showing off a bouquet on a dark gray backdrop (such as a steel gray bridesmaid dress). It makes flowers like white peonies and saturated coral poppies pop.
Whether you’re a blushing bride, a thoughtful groom, a loving mother, or the best bridesmaid, Ashley can help you commemorate the special occasion with one of her customized Painted Bouquets.
Now, please excuse me while I dream about springtime, beautiful flowers, and bridal bouquets! TGIF!