Ashley: In 2011, after Vermont's small towns were ravaged by floodwaters during Hurricane Irene, a couple in Rutland, VT came up with a slogan and a graphic image: "We are Vermont Strong."
I soon realized that I needed to paint one for every state and to share them as quickly as possible in case seeing their state being cradled by Rufus helped to cheer people or reminded them, in an amusing way, to Stay Home and Save Lives.
e: 50 states is no small project! Do you have them all done? How long did they take?
Ashley: I have done all 50 states, The District of Columbia, The Navajo/Hopi Nation, and Puerto Rico. It took me about a week. I've been self-employed since 1983, so I am used to tackling deadlines!
Ashley: Rufus is my fourth Border Collie. I got a puppy in 1977 and named her Pumpkin. She became an alter ego for me. Whenever something happened in my life, I wanted to celebrate a holiday, send a message of love, or a get well soon I used Pumpkin as my character. I have probably painted 500+ "Pumpkin Cards."
Ashley: The response to these on social media has been just what I'd hoped for: amusement, a lot of sharing of the images to family and friends all over the US and even a few requests for prints.
e: You’re always coming up with such creative projects. What’s next up your sleeve?
Ashley: I am just finishing up the art for a book I wrote called How to Help a Pumpkin Grow to be published by Beach Lane Books. Up my sleeve is another book that will begin shortly but which I am keeping under wraps for now.
Ashley: Thanks for this opportunity, E!