Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Spreading the word

Hello, all!

I've been on the road for the past few weeks. Drove from my home in Connecticut out to Tubac, Arizona, to visit my dad and his wife. I also visited Ganado and Fort Defiance, Arizona, where I was born and spent my first few years.

I painted landscapes the entire way back. You can see my paintings and read about my trip at

On my way, I handed out about 1,000 postcards for the Art for Shelter Animals project. I left them in galleries and coffee shops, hotels and animal shelters. I gave them to everyone I spoke with and anyone who looked at my paintings. I contacted television stations and newspapers across the country, and tried to drum up interest the entire way.

One place that really captured my interest was Old Friends, in Georgetown, Kentucky, just northeast of Lexington. It's a gorgeous, expansive farm where thoroughbred horses are brought to retire. Some have owners who pay for their keep, I believe, and others are rescued by the organization. The couple who run the place (I admit, I have forgotten their names) were wonderfully receptive to the project. For anyone who's interested in helping them, their website has a bunch of excellent photographs of the horses.

While I was away, our local paper published a story on me and on our the project. Here's the url:

So far, it has not generated any interest or any art, I'm sorry to say. But I will keep pushing!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Another update

You remember Maria's post about having her class of art students paint portraits of shelter animals.  If you don't click here and read about this heartwarming idea by a fellow artist.

She kindly emailed me with an update on how the shelter used all those wonderful paintings:

Hi Sheila,
Just one more update from the project we worked on.  The shelter ended up auctioning most of the paintings at the fundraiser and raised about 150 dollars.  More importantly, the staff at the shelter got many of them.  Some of the dogs that staff and volunteers had been working with to make them adoptable were given the paintings as gifts from other staff, directors.... All in all it was a good day!
Maria Leysens

What a great benefit for the animals, the volunteers and for the children to learn how a fun activity on their part made a difference in so many ways for the Butler County Humane Society.

Thank you again Maria Kovalenko Leysens!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Poor Little Bear

When I saw this little guy's photo today on my local animal shelter's website, I couldn't get over how much he looks like a bear cub. His name just has to be Little Bear! The information about him states that ID #D-26434 is likely a pug mix (although he looks more like a black bear mix to me) and was just found wondering around aimlessly before ending up at the shelter. He is about 10 years young and weighs 30 pounds. This sweetheart really deserves to live in a nice home. If you are looking for a nice quiet, gentle pet, this boy is for you. Please consider adopting him. I wonder what happened to his master. Seems to me, nobody would want to lose a cuddly little teddy bear buddy like this one!

Thursday, April 23, 2009


"Lil" oil on 6x8 RayMar
up for Adoption through CANTER/CALIF.

I have said many times, my vision was to go beyond shelter animals and one day incorporate other animal rescues and organizations.   CANTER is my first step toward that goal.  CANTER is the Communication Alliance to Network Thoroughbred Ex-Racehorses.   

Do you know what the common practice was for racehorses that were injured or were no longer at their peak?  View this NBC story to find out how CANTER came to be by clicking here.

California just formed a chapter in the Bay Area last year for the two nearby Race Tracks.  I approached the regional director and she kindly accepted my offer for a painting of one of the horses she rescued.  Lil is sweet and has been retrained ( out of her habit of running full speed and turning to the left) and is ready for adoption.   Each chapter of CANTER is fully staffed with volunteers and no one is paid for the wonderful work they do.  

They are funded only by donations so every little bit helps.  They are struggling now to raise $5,000 it will take to feed and care for the horses they currently have.    This amount will only cover the year until July.  

There are CANTER chapters throughout the country.  Perhaps you might be interested in doing something for them if there is one near you.   Check out their National website here.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Now for some GREAT NEWS...

Maria Kovalenko Leysens dropped her paintings, her son's painting and those from her class as described in the earlier post to the Butler County Humane Society in Pennsylvania.  Maria updated us with this email:

The shelter was thrilled with the paintings. Thanks to all for all the great comments and it is good to know that we inspired many others to do the same in their areas. This project is contagious! The shelter chose to auction one of the paintings at the "Fur Ball" fundraiser this weekend and will hang the others in the shelter till November when they have their "Pawcasso" fund raiser. We will definately do this again next year!
and below is just one of the thank yous that I got from the shelter.

Hi Maria I am one of the Fur Ball chair women, We LOVED the paintings the kids did!!! I couldn't choose one so I took a few!! Your "kids" are so talented!!! Keep up the great work...hope to see you at the Shelter some day!!

Cindy D


This was a fun project and the girls are already planning to do more in oil pastels next.  I already have two more...

Thanks for all the nice things you said on the blog and thanks for the idea/inspiration with your blog.........

Maria Leysens

All the credit needs to go to Maria and her students.  People can think something is a good idea all day long, but it's that initial step that propels special people like Maria to go on a do wonderful things for her community.  She is also setting an example for the next generation.  With a lot of our youth thinking about "what's in it for me?"  or what they're next video game is going to be, isn't it nice to be able to show them how good they can feel by giving to others?   It's an inexpensive 'high' but one that hopefully last a lifetime.   Great job Maria!  Please drop by Maria's blog and also extent your appreciation for her efforts!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Ingrid's heart-wrenching story

Ingrid. By Lori Rowe, for the Little Shelter, on Long Island.

The amazing Lori Rowe saw Ingrid a couple weeks ago at the Little Shelter. Lori, who has a big heart, was touched by Ingrid's story. Here it is:

"When Ingrid came to Little Shelter, she was in very bad condition - in fact, she was dying. Ingrid had spent the first years of her life chained to a fence.

While on that chain, Ingrid gave birth to litter after litter of puppies and didn't know the joy of human love.

When she arrived on our doorstep her body was emaciated and her abdomen was extremely distended. Tests revealed that Ingrid had late stage heartworm and her heart muscle was severely damaged.

Ingrid was near death for quite a while and we weren't sure she was going to make it, but after having 14 lbs.of fluid drained from her chest cavity, lots of TLC, and expert vet care, Ingrid pulled through.

To ensure that Ingrid's heart continued to serve her well, Ingrid needed to be placed on life-long medication and the vet responsible for saving her life recommended
Viagra! Viagra was originally developed as a heart medication, and for Ingrid it has truly been a life-saver!

Now, more than one year later, Ingrid is feeling much better. Her medications and special dietary requirements have proven to be costly, but we will continue to provide her with all of her medical needs. Please help us continue to provide for Ingrid and others like her, while they await new, loving homes, by making a donation to help with their care."

Thank you, Lori. It's a lovely painting!

Another idea...

Kayla 4x6 oil on canvasboard
Boo, 4x6 oil on canvas board

I was at my Meet the Artist event at my local pet shop  when a lady came up and inquired about the AFSA paintings I had out and a print out of this blog explaining the project.  She loved the idea and wanted to do something but $45 was too expensive a price for a painting.

Later that night, I thought of what I could do to remedy this and tried my idea out on these little guys.  You remember Kayla.  She is one of the critters staff at the SPCA in  Oakland, Ca wanted duplicates of.    So I went to their website and found another photo of her.  She is still waiting for a home.

Then I stumbled upon "Boo".  Just under 7 pounds believe it or not she is supposed to be 10 years old so she was featured in their Silver Muzzle club.  I figure if the SPCA could sell these for about $20 or so.  What do you think?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Lovely Liz Holm ; Lovely Heart...

8x10 oil on canvas

This is Liz Holm's first gift to her local shelter .   Liz Holm is working with her local Prince George's County SPCA/Humane Society in Maryland.   You'd never know she was working days on end trying to get that black luscious coat of this German Shepard just right.  Staff at the shelter said this about Trixie:
Trixie was found in a dumpster when she was 5 to 6 weeks   old and is now about 8 (?) months old.  She is a   happy dog but very high energy and needs an adopter   who will keep her busy and challenged so that her   energies don't become destructive.

Congratulations Liz on your inaugural painting.  We'll be looking forward to see what the reception was like.   Great Job!

Framing Tip from Paula Villanova

Most of you know about frugal ways to frame your paintings.  One of my favorite artist Paula Villanova showed me the result of how she used inexpensive lattice from Lowe's to make a gallery frame for her AFSA paintings.   She was told by the delighted recipients that they planned to aution the paintings at their upcoming fundraiser so Paula went the extra mile and framed her paintings (2) in hopes of garnering a higher bid for the Shelter.

Paula wrote:
This is a strip frame made from lattice. It then needs to be cut to size. It does not need to be mitred but does need to be cut carefully so that the edges butt against each other carefully. It can then either be painted, stained, or left natural. They then need to be nailed to the canvas using the right size nails. 

Just wanted to share this awesome tip that I certainly will use in the future. Paula said she picked up a piece of lattice for around $5 and framed TWO paintings with it!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Venerable Vern Victorious Visage!

I could not help but get a huge smile on my face when Vern's latest painting popped up upon my computer moniter.  Don't you agree he has a real gift for doing these portraits?   He writes the following on his blog:

Melosia is an older girl (8 yrs.) who is very laid back, although she looks like she would like to lick you to death...ha! She loves to be petted and is anxiously waiting for a new home. She is currently at D'Arcy's A.R.C. animal rescue center in Winnipeg. If anyone would like to adopt Melosia or purchase this painting, please contact the shelter and they will name the price with all proceeds going to them.

Vern plans to start painting the older and larger dogs because he doesn't feel they get adopted as quickly.   Please stop by his blog and view his other wonderfuls works! 

Friday, April 17, 2009

Initial Shelter Contact Letter

Here tonight, I am posting the letter I sent to my local animal shelter in hopes that others will be able to edit and utilize it to contact their local shelter and rescue organizations.

Dear Lisa Cliver, John Richardson and Jackie Dennis,

I have some exciting news about a special project that I feel will benefit the shelter, the animals and the staff. I am a local professional artist and animal lover. I became intrigued and emotionally involved the first time I saw this blog,"Art for Shelter Animals". It's headed up by a couple of blogger buddies. After I saw it, I couldn't get it out of my mind, so I knew I just had to get involved and do something to help!

The Art for Animals project is simple. I make paintings of animals in our shelter and donate the paintings to the shelter. That's it, no strings attached! The shelter can do whatever it wants with the paintings. The only thing I ask is that I be given credit and a link to my web site for creating and donating the work wherever it is used.

You can sell or auction them, make posters, note cards or calendars. I suggest possibly doing a monthly Chinese or silent auction or a raffle. You could use it as a gift for someone adopting the painting's subject, or sell it to them for a nominal fee - say half or 1/3 the retail price. (FYI - I charge $149.00 for the size paintings I will be donating to you.) In the future, I would like suggestions on which animals you would like to see depicted. You can copy these images and use them for promotion on your web site or in the newspaper.

The project is already gaining much momentum and publicity online. The East Bay SPCA in California is also taking off with this project and the Promotions and Funding Director will probably be able to answer any questions you might have, from the shelter's point of view. We can contact publications about the project and get publicity for you, the animals and my work.

The more imaginative the shelter management staff, the more ideas we can come up with to raise money and awareness and find more homes for our poor orphan fur babies. I'm looking forward to meeting with you and discussing all the exciting possibilities! I am hoping you are as excited about this as I am.

Eventually I'll get even more local artists involved. The more exposure we get through this, the more support and involvement it will generate from the community. Please explore "my blog " and the "Art for Shelter Animals " blog links thoroughly. Please discuss the possibilities with each other, your friends, staff and directors and get back to me ASAP.

So far I have completed four paintings which you can see on here "my web log"

Find out more about this exciting project by following my links to the "Art For Shelter Animals" .

Best Wishes,
Sandy Sandy

Great Ideas From The Front Line!

I had a wonderful phone conversation with Lisa Cliver, the Burlington County Animal Shelter manger I'm working with, this morning. It was loaded with some brainstorming and many wonderful ideas for the AFSA project! One of the things we decided is that I will provide PDF files from now on for them to print out - to hang by the cages. They will have them laminated to protect them from water spray. These might also be a good size to print out and mat up to sell for a nominal fee - like a $15. donation. I will also make up a poster later today inviting people to the shelter to view the artwork. Lisa will hang these at various county facilities and businesses like the library and pet stores. Here is a sample of one of the PDF files I made up for my shelter which I just emailed to them. I've done nine pieces so far. More to come shortly!!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

THIS is what it's all about!

Maria Kovalenko Leysens is an artist who has her own studio, where she teaches workshops, classes as well as showing and selling her own work.  Put on top of that raising children, then you'll know how extraordinary it is for her to pull off one of the best ASAP contributions yet.  

She wrote:
I wanted to update you with some info and photos from the AFSA project that I did today with some of the students from my studio classes.  They were so excited and happy to do the paintings as a gift to the Butler County Humane Society. The students are 8 to 12 years old.We did 12 paintings of dogs and cats. 

She went on to explain the lucky recipient is the Butler County Humane Society there in Renfrew, Pennsylvania.

What Maria wrote in her blog was that she had wanted to participate in the Art for Shelter Animals project but decided to ask her studio class if they wanted to participate and she was met with a resounding , "Yes!".

So get this.... Maria DONATES all the materials for the beautiful watercolor paintings and the mats you see the proud artists holding after they finished their particular dog or cat.  

There's more... Maria painted two animals herself... "Pearl" and "Bandit" as you see in the middle.

But wait there's MORE!  Greg, her fifteen year old son wanted to participate also and painted that beautiful face of "Belinda" for the rescue.  Talent and altruism runs in the family.

Maria wrote that she learned it is a couple of weeks before the Shelter's annual fundraiser so her timing couldn't be better.  She will update us with how the paintings were received and how they are going to use them for the shelter animals.  If I'm counting right that's FIFTEEN paintings donated by the ingenuity and generosity of one wonderful woman!

Please drop by Maria Kovalenko Leysens' blog and check out her other fabulous work and maybe tell her what you think of her accomplishment for the project.    

Thank you Maria, special thanks to your son Greg and an extra special thanks to your wonderful class!  Teaching the next generation how to care for all creatures great and small is one of the greatest lessons there is.

Sadie Sadie Panting Lady

Sadie is 6x8 oil on RayMar
Available at the EastBay SPCA

Sadie is a Grand Ol' Gal.  Staff describes her as very loving with a heart as big as her body.  Because of her weight she's on a special diet and tires easily during walks so a patient but insistent family would be best for her.

When I met with the Program Development Director to deliver the first set of paintings several weeks ago, my kids were with me.  The other night when I finished Sadie, Donovan said, "Did that dog have a cone on her head?"  Of course he didn't mean like a dunce cap but the medical one around her neck.  I cannot be sure of this because I didn't get a look at her face during the tour but knowing how much my son loves animals and insects, I have no doubt it was who he saw in her kennel that day.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Help for a hospice

Fritter, by Lori Rowe. Acrylic on canvas board, 9x12,
to be donated to Angel's Gate animal hospice.

The talented and lovely Lori Rowe has sent us another wonderful painting. This one, of Fritter, a dog from Lori's past, is destined for Angel's Gate animal hospice in Delhi, N.Y. A caution from me (Carrie) - this site makes me weep. It also makes me tremendously glad that Lori found this place and that maybe, just maybe, this project will help.

Here's what Lori writes:

Susan said that she did 20 loads of wash at the public laundry today because theirs (at the shelter) broke. Angles Gate is a hospice for all different animals. I can't imagine how heart wrenching their work is. I hope they can get enough from the sale to help. There is a typed page full of things they need. On the up side they just moved off the island where they only had one acre to up state where they now have 100 acres!

See more of Lori's art at

Monday, April 13, 2009

Some more good news

"Big Boy"  6x8" oil on RayMar
Oakland SPCA, 19 pounds of cat!
Antonio (2.5x3.5 inch watercolor on art card)
A sweet fellow unfortunately with FIV waiting for a home
that understands his illness at the East Bay SPCA, CA

I chose to do an Art Card for Antonio because the jpeg they emailed me was rather small.

The SPCA dedicated a web page for our project on their site.  Admin denied my contact's request to have this blog posted based on a policy not to 'advertise' other websites.   No problem.  This is good exposure for the SPCA, our project and me.  A Google on the project name or me should lead the inquisitive minds to this blog any way.  

Bingo got adopted after being with the shelter over a year!  

Now a request I was not expecting from my shelter.   They would like a couple more paintings of Kayla and Bingo because other people have requested their painting.  I suggested other poses or styles and she hoped I could do it similar to the original.  YIPES!  I don't know if I can....anyone out there have suggestions?  I'm asking on my other blog too.

Hugs in advance...

Sweet Vanilla

Vanilla resides at the Scituate Animal Shelter in Scituate, MA

I am just delighted in annoucing Paula Villanova's second contribution to the project with a yummy portrait of Vanilla!  Doesn't she look like a dollap of ice cream on top of a cone here?  Paula has a wonderful unique style that she brought to this painting for her local Scituate Animal Shelter.  She has already contacted the shelter and wrote in an email:

The Scituate Animal Shelter got back to me and is delighted to receive the two paintings...they have plans to auction them. I was not going to frame them but since they will be auctioned, I am planning on using an inexpensive stripping that I can get at Home Depot and cut to size...a little trick I learned as a poor art student way back when! I just think that if they are ready to hang, they will get more $$$ for them..

I am hoping she will share with us her how she does her "little trick" with the stripping because I think its a good idea for my paintings (personal and for this project)

Please visit her website or blog and say 'hello' and view her other great works.

I am also humbled to learn our blog has been awarded with a pair of award from a talented and prolific bloggers.   We were presented with a "i XO your art blog" award by the world renown animal artist Akiko Watanabe and the "One Lovely Blog Award" from an artist and blogger I admire Darlene Twitchell. 

Thank you Darlene and Akiko!  Your support and acknowledgement of this project and blog is priceless and an affirmation of our purpose.   

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Angel for Easter

6x8 oil on RayMar
East Bay SPCA, Oakland CA
Chocolate Lab

Angel is described as an "older gal" who still likes to romp and play.  I can relate to that!  Staff at the SPCA describe how she loves to talk to you so you won't forget about her.   

The photo in the email had her tail wagging so fast, it was just a blur in the image.  I was debating on whether or not showing it that way.  What do you think?

Thank You! Thank You!

So good to read your post and see your smiling spirit back here once again Sheila. As you can see, we all adore you and missed you so! And how wonderful to hear of Carrie's adventures as she travels across the country spreading the news about our project! Like most of you reading this, I have always been an animal lover. In fact, that's probably one of the top three traits that anyone who knows me would mention. It is so wonderful to be among so many other kindred spirits here! I feel like I have found a home here in helping homeless animals to find a home!

The shelter that I work with is not a no kill shelter. Unfortunately, you just can't save them all. I feel that the people I met who work at my shelter, care just as deeply as we all do about saving as many as possible. They work closely with many rescue groups.

I have had some real joys in the few short weeks since beginning this "art for shelter animals" journey. Six of the animals I painted have been either reclaimed or adopted. Katie The KindHeart is now in Maryland with a Golden Retriever Rescue Group. I just know that the work we do here is doing a world of good in so many ways. The end result of our time and efforts will bring more awareness, more adoptions, more funding and more forever homes to the many fur babies in need.

Thank you, Sheila, Carrie and everyone else for your love, caring and support.
Hugs Hugs, Sandy Sandy

Friday, April 10, 2009

I'm back!

Just a short post to let you know (or warn you   ;o) that I came home last night.  THANK YOU  so much to all you wonderful folks for continuing to contribute and participate in our project.  Special thanks to Carrie for posting and emailing on the road and Extra Special Hugs for Sandy for doing an excellent job at the helm.

I'm  so ready to get back to painting and I have two images from my SPCA in my email.  For today, I have two items I want to note:

1.  Participating Artists  remember,  if you'd like, ask the recipient organization for a donation receipt.  They are more than willing to do this (ask for the amount you would ordinarily get paid for that piece of art) and just think of it as a means to help you retain income to buy more materials for this project.

2. I know there is a great distaste and resentment to the usually government run shelters that are not 'no-kill.'   I  also made a conscience choice to work with the no-kill SPCA even though there is a county shelter right next to it.   Let me tell you why:

The County or City shelters are supported by "no-kill" shelters and rescue organizations.  Employees at the government run shelters work diligently with these organizations and groups to reduce the number of animals that by law have to be euthanized.  So in helping the no-kill organizations, I am helping the government shelters.  How do I know this?  

I was asked by my former boss to take over and manage our City's shelter after the Civilian Director went off on stress disability.  The City Manager also asked the Police Chief to send a police supervisor over to help the employees that were leaving in droves because of stress and overwork.  So as a Police Sergeant completely naive in all things related to Animal Shelters, I was dropped in the midst of chaos.   Fortunately with the help of the employees, the rescue groups and yes even police employees who started to volunteer their services, the Shelter regained its reputation and organizational health in the 11 months I spent there.   

During that time, I must tell you that it was one of the more physically and emotionally taxing jobs I've ever had.  Because I did not know any thing about the business and we were so short handed, I had immersed myself in everything from cleaning kennels to helping the Animal Control Officers conduct abuse investigations and rescues of injured or neglected animals.  I know it would be easier on the employees to find work at a 'no-kill' in terms of emotional and physical health.   I am proud in being able to retain the only senior AC Officer [ all of 24 years with 5 years of experience] because when I arrived, he said he would only stay until we were fully staffed again.  [ The shelter had lost 26 full and part time employees in a year and a half]   He is still there because I showed every employee there what an honorable and thankless job they have.  Every one who works here come here because they love animals.  They take no joy in euthanizing animals whether it's because the animals is a proven danger or because the law requires an animal must not be sheltered more than 20 days.  I have seen the tears and anger when an officer needs to euthanize an animal because all the rescue organization are full, the animal cannot be adopted because of its challenges and even after several extensions, the law and need to house other incoming animals forces them to do so.  

I started this project in part because of these brave, passionate and much maligned people.  In helping the SPCA, I am helping them.  I may lose some followers because of my respect for government shelter employees but I must stay true to myself and my internal promise to bring awareness to ALL aspects of animal rescue and need for adoption.

I know this 'short post' turned into a novella so when you have more time, read my post in  my other blog about this AC officer I wrote about.  HUGS to all.  Everyone of you are helping my dream come to fruition.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A meeting in Texas

Carrie Jacobson, left, and Nancy Medina met in Irving, Texas on Wednesday.

As my cross-country plein-air painting trip began to take shape, it occurred to me that I might be able to meet some cyberspace friends in real life. For a while, I thought Sheila and I might be in New Mexico at the same time... we missed each other by a day.

But I was able to meet Nancy Medina, a wonderful painter and a friend of animals with a soft spot for pugs. Nancy works near Dallas as the editor of a medical journal, and when I called to say I would be driving through Dallas, we made plans to meet.

We had a delightful lunch together, talking about journalism, writing, painting, animals, animal resuce and this blog. In addition to her marvelous pet portraits, she paints delightful landscapes, flowers and still lifes (check out her website,

Nancy brought up an important point about the project, as well. We're calling it the Art for Shelter Animals Project - but it has broader roots and a broader reach than shelters. Sheila's initial idea was to aim it toward equine rescue - and that - and farm animal rescue - is still very much a part of the idea behind ASAP.

But not all places have good shelter systems. Lori Rowe has encountered this issue on Long Island, and Nancy points out that shelters in Texas are generally not no-kill shelters. Breed-specific rescue groups play an enormous role in finding homes for animals in the Lone Star state.

I will rewrite some of the language in the ASAP explanation, and I hope that all the artists involved in the project understand that they should donate art to the groups in their areas that they support - shelters, humane society, rescue groups - or whatever form animal rescue takes in your area.


An older guy

Old Ginger, by Liz Pearson, 10x14. To be donated to DARG, the Domestic Animal Rescue Group in Cape Town, South Africa.

Liz Pearson, in Cape Town, South Africa, has a lot going on in her life. Still, she has found the time and spirit to make another painting, this one of an older male cat. She named him "Old Ginger," as he has a number, but no name.

"He is not a pretty gentleman," she writes in her blog, Art with Liz, but like all cats, shows an aloofness and disdain that came out clearly in his photograph. I've tried to show that here as well."

Lean On Me

This sweetheart is waiting for a home at my local County Animal Shelter. I call #C25359, Lover Boy. When I met him last week, he just wanted to be held. Lover Boy has been "in Prison" for several months now and needs to find a forever home real soon!! This 8" x 10" oil painting will be donated to the shelter as part of this project, as soon as it is dry.

"I'll lean on you and you lean on me and we'll be okay." ~ Dave Matthews Band

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Molly, The Mastiff Mix

Here's a photo of an oil painting I just did of Molly. As you can see, it's still very wet. For me, as a watercolorist, the hardest thing about painting in oils, is waiting days, even weeks for the darn thing to dry! Also, I seem to be getting a glare from the slick surface of the pigments in my photos, even without a flash and in subdued light. Any suggestions and tips you guys could offer on the above issues would be appreciated. See more about Molly, the Mastiff Mix and photos on my web log.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Car? Did you say 'car'??

Sheenu, by Vern Schwarz. Oil on masonite, 5.75 x 7.

Vern Schwarz, one of the earliest and most prolific contributors to ASAP, has created another beautiful portrait. Look at the expression in Sheenu's eyes and face - I can almost hear her breathe!

On his blog,, Vern writes that he's decided to help a couple of the less well-funded shelters in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, where Vern lives.

He writes: "This is Sheenu, a lovely Newfoundland cross who is currently residing at D'Arcy A.R.C. (animal rescue center) and she is looking for a new home. Not much else on her except that she is about 2 years old and looks to have a great disposition. I painted this portrait while listening to Black Joe Lewis, a killer new band whose guitarist just happens to be Camille Larue Olsen's nephew. You can see his fabulous portrait on Camille's blog). Some great tracks on must have spun through about 3 times on my itunes while I was painting, but it didn't matter, because it doesn't get old fast. "

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Katie The KindHeart

I'm a little nervous posting for the first time on AFSA. I'd like to say how honored I am to have this opportunity to do something that I know will really make a difference. The acts of selfless devotion on the parts of Sheila and Carrie are to be commended and inspired me to take the leap too. We can talk about wanting to help, but until we are willing to sacrifice our time, effort and paycheck it is all just talk. I am addicted to getting inspiration from quotes. Here are some I posted this week on my Spirit Art Blog about working with this project.

"No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been the reward for what he gave." ~ Calvin Coolidge

"If you care at all, you'll get some results. If you care enough, you'll get incredible results." ~ Jim Rohn

"The highest reward for a person's toil is not what they get for it, but what they become by it." ~ John Ruskin

I visited my Shelter this past Tuesday and for me there were so many memorable faces. None stood out quite like this lady though. I call her, Katie, The KindHeart. See her photo and find out more about her on my web log.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Miles of smiles, smiles of Miles

This portrait in oils of Miles the pug was painted by Nancy Medina. She's donated it to the Dallas Fort Worth Pug Rescue group to use on the cover of a fund-raising cookbook.

Nancy Medina of Flower Mound, Texas, has three pugs of her own, and has donated this gorgeous painting to the Dallas Fort Worth Pug Rescue group, one of the largest pug rescues in the nation. The group is making a cookbook to use as a fund-raiser, and Nancy's painting will grace the cover.

Here's what she writes:
"The Dallas Fort Worth Pug Rescue is one of the largest pug rescues in the nation. They are currently bringing in approximately five to 10 pugs a week, and are very fortunate to have a number of dedicated volunteers and foster families that help us in that effort. DFW Pug Rescue is a completely unpaid volunteer workforce, and takes in all pugs regardless of age or medical condition. You can read more about DFW Pug Rescue on its web site at or on our blog at"

Nancy makes luscious paintings, not only of pugs, but also of flowers and gardens and landscapes. You can see her work at and

Vern Schwarz hits another out of the ballpark!

Nala. By Vern Schwarz, 5.75x7, oil on masonite. To be donated to the Humane Society shelter in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

Followers of Artist
Vern Schwarz saw this cute kitty yesterday. Nala was lucky enough to catch Vern's eye when he went to deliver a couple of paintings to the Winnepeg Humane Society.

Can you believe this is Vern's FIRST cat portrait!? Can you just die of envy with his ability to render those "are you the one taking me home?" eyes? Thank you again Vern. We appreciate your participation in the program, what it means to those critters waiting for homes and just love your art making this world a brighter place.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

It's all in the eye

Boston Terrier, by Olga Warner. Oil painting, 12x12 on masonite. To be donated
to the Boston Terrier Rescue of North Carolina.

Olga Warner of North Carolina has joined the project with an absolutely stunning painting of a Boston terrier.

Here's what she writes:

"This is an 'abstract' Boston terrier that I painted as a donation to the Boston Terrier Rescue of NC ( I read a story on their homepage about Brinkley, who will have extensive medical bills and decided to help by donating this painting. It will be raffled off by BTRNC with all proceeds going to benefit the dogs in their care.

Olga, welcome! And congratulations on the powerful and lovely painting. To see Olga's work, go to

Some materials you can use

Hi, everyone! The speed at which this project is growing is just astonishing! Sheila and Sandy and I are thrilled - and so far, it's growing simply by word of mouth - and word of blog. You good people, you wonderful artists, you're carrying the message, and look what's happening.

Your paintings, your stories, your generosity, your spirit - I knew we could help the animals. I didn't suspect we could shape the world, but it feels like that's what we're doing.

I've had some ideas, as I have delivered paintings, and as I'm preparing to drive to Arizona on a painting trip (you can follow me at

First, I like to include a certificate of authenticity when I sell a painting. In it, I usually write where and when I made the painting, and list my catalogue number. (Since I often paint the same landscapes, I decided to identify my work with a title, but also with a number. This is generally the year (09) the month (04) the day (02) the medium (o for oil, p for pastel) and then, if I've painted more than one, a letter. So the second oil painting I do today will be 090402oB).

So for the ASAP project, I am making certificates of authenticity. Here's an example:

This is two cards - and if I were making it at home, it would be on two documents, one of fronts of the cards, one of insides of the cards.

The second document I made is a poster that shelters can copy to hand out to visitors.

The third is a postcard - again, front and back are on the same document - that I'm going to take with me on my painting trip, and hand out all over the country.

If I can conquer the technology, I will have these available as pdfs in a few days. Meantime, feel free to use them in any way you like. You can take them entirely as they are, or change them to work for you (clearly, the authentication letter would need to be changed) - and you don't have to use them at all!

A last note: A photographer from our local paper (she's also a painter, and I believe I recruited her into the project) took shots of me making a shelter painting yesterday. I'm meeting with a reporter today - and really looking forward to seeing how publicity shapes the project!

Thank you all so very much.

Introducing AFSA's newest Team Member!

Art for Shelter Animals is proud to introduce Sandy Sandy as our newest Project Team member.   We've been blessed with the interest of many artists and the project catching momentum and now we have a force of nature in energy and creativity on our team.

Followers from the very beginning have known that renown artist Sandy Sandy was our first and our most prolific contributor with the project.  She has had a boundless energy and taken on this project like gangbusters.  I've always admired Sandy's artist gifts, her spiritual and motivating posts so Carrie and I were just tickled pink when she offered to help with more ideas, more suggestions and more energy than the both of us at times.   

The project is blessed to have Sandy Sandy join this project as a Team Member.  Her energy, creativity, motivation and outstanding artistry can only help boost our project into higher stratospheres.   Please welcome her.  Carrie and I are looking forward to all the ideas Sandy will bring to the table.  

Check our her awesome art here and her inspirational blog here.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

5x5 oil on Matboard

This is a wonderful painting of Rina by Cathyann Burgess.

Please read what she writes about Rina:

This is Rina. Rina is a  Blue Tick Water hound. She lives at the local Humane Society in Richmond, VA. 
She is possibly the most dainty, quiet, elegant dog I have seen in a long time. It really was hard just to photograph her and then walk out the door. 
Painting her was a delight and so free. I like the little square format so much. but I am eager to see if I can get the same effect in say a 12 x 12 or even a 36 x 36.

I told her I thought she did an awesome job of capturing the longing look of Rina waiting for a home but also her hope that the next visitor would take her to her new family.  Please go to Cathyann's blog and read her special techinique in painting this wonderful piece.   As if this wonderful gift wasn't enough, Cathyann also gave our project a monetary gift also. Thank you so much Cathyann!  You opitimize  the generosity I  knew is here in the artist community.