Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Meeting with Max

Click to enlarge image

Over the weekend, my kids and I went to deliver some of the paintings to the East Bay SPCA.  I met with Kendra Adams the Director of Project Development.  She was delighted with the paintings and told me the painting of Max was sold already along with the previous sales of Bingo and Kayla.  

She also explained her intentions of posting a copy of the painting near each kennel and having information that the painting is available for sale.  She showed me the area where they were going to have a display case for my work next to the front desk of the facility.  

You can see the mini easels I donated to her for the art cards I made and she told me she would order more for any other cards I would be painting.  She wanted to confirm the details of my ideas with the art cards.  I had suggested that she could sell the original art card with plastic case and easel for anywhere from $15 to $35 and she could determine the price based her customers.  They also manage another facility further east from the main location.  I had suggested front desk personnel could print out copies of the art cards, have a stamp placed on the back of the card stock paper and have them sell them for $1 to $3.  That way, parents can buy a little something for the children that always visit the shelter.  I am now thinking Girl and Boy Scouts always donate their time or School children have tours, that this would make a nice gift for these children also.  

That leads to me thinking of another idea.  Perhaps they could give them away to anyone who brings in a can of food for the shelter animals.  Who knows what other ideas we [this includes our blogosphere friends] can come up with for this project.

As I and my kids were leaving, I saw a volunteer walking a dog.  I asked Kendra, "Is that Max!?"  She said it sure was.  Max is the sweetest dog. Friendly but not the frenetic and jumpy kind but more of a cool curious type when he met me and my children.  Kendra showed him his portrait but as soon as he realized it was not food, he lost interest.  I guess it will just have to be appreciated by the portrait's new owner.  Thanks for reading!  

A big day at Little Shelter

Lori Rowe, left, donates "Home," to Jodi Record, on-site manager of Little Shelter. The shelter plans to auction the painting.

Lori Rowe, a wonderful artist who lives on Long Island, wrote the following piece about her experience donating "Home" to the Little Shelter.

The "Little Shelter" out here on Long Island, is open seven days a week, to make it accessible to all. I arrived on Sunday, the 29th of March, around 1 p.m., and was surprised to see the place so busy that there were no parking places - even though there's a generous amount of parking.

The Girl Scouts were there doing field work, and the other people had come to see the animals, and adopt some of them. My husband and I found a safe place to park, and locked our own dogs in the car. We were greeted by friendly staffers as soon as we walked in, and when I introduced myself, the shelter staff seemed genuinely excited. I was the artist who was donating my painting.

Jodi Record, the on-site manager, came out to greet us. She took us on a tour of the facility and answered all my questions. She spent an hour and a half showing us around, but I never felt her grow impatient.

The Little Shelter can house as many as 65 dogs. When we visited, 40 dogs were living there. As soon as one is adopted, the shelter workers go to the pound and bring in another new resident. Little Shelter takes great care to keep everyone safe. It is not equipped to house or adopt troubled dogs, but still, every dog needs an adjustment time. New dogs live in a separate area until they're used to the place. Dots on the dogs' cages let visitors know whether it's safe to pet the dogs.

I've worked for veterinarians, and been to many shelters. I've made surprise visits to gauge kennels for my own dogs. Little Shelter might be the cleanest kennel I've ever seen. There was almost no smell, even though there were 40 dogs - and 400 cats!

Jodi knew the story of each and every dog and kitty we visited. They all live in an open area of joined rooms with too many litter boxes to remember. The cats have the freedom to go out on a large outdoor porch that was built by a generous donor.

There were many kitty climbers and even part of a tree, 5 feet high, that the room was built around. A line of kitties waited for their turn to lie up there. My husband, who is not generally fond of kitties, spent so much time playing with said kitties, I almost thought he was going to take one home. All those cats and not a fight or grumble did I hear. My cat could learn a few things there.

Little Shelter employs 43 staffers and has too many volunteers to count. A good portion of them were there Sunday, walking, feeding and generally taking care of the group. The shelter has a yearly budget of $2 million, and depends on donations. The donations are up a little now but are still 50 percent lower than a year ago.

If you are interested in adoption, you fill out an application form, and give the shelter some money. Cats are $100, dogs older than a year are $110, puppies are $160.

All the pets have been examined, spayed or neutered and all have been microchipped. It's a great deal for a lifelong friend.

Little Shelter, which has been a no-kill shelter since 1927, is proud to be the only shelter in the area with a pet food pantry for those in need. You fill out some paperwork, and if you need food for your dog or cat, it's yours. How awesome is that? There will be an article on their food pantry in Newsday next Monday, April 6th.

This was a wonderful experience and the kicker was that they treated us like we were royalty visiting. Everyone seemed to know about me and my gift. What they didn't seem to realize is what a gift they gave me.

For more, check out:

Little Shelter Animal Adoption Center
33 Warner Road, Huntington, NY 11743, 631-368-8770
http://www.littleshelter.com/





"Home," acrylic on canvas board, 14x18, by Lori Rowe. Donated to Little Shelter.

Wonderful Wharf

Wharf. Painted by Liz Pearson. To be donated to DARG, the Domestic Animal Rescue Group in Hout Bay, Cape Town, South Africa.

Liz Pearson offers our project its first non-North American contribution, with her beautiful painting of Wharf, an older dog in DARG, a no-kill shelter in Cape Town, South Africa. She writes on her blog, Art with Liz:

"His name is Wharf and he comes from the Hout Bay based organisation, DARG (Domestic Animal Rescue Group). I don't know very much about Wharf, but from his name would imagine he was found wandering round the docks.

"DARG have a policy of never putting a healthy animal down and as a result, there are a few dogs and cats who have been staying at the centre for some time. Wharf is one of them, a sweet faced eldery dog who is looking for a home to retire to. Hopefully my little painting will help him find his 'forever' place in the sun!"

We are so happy to welcome Liz to the Art for Shelter Animals Project!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Skylar


Skylar. Oil on gessoboard panel, 6x6, by Carrie Jacobson. To be donated to the Ledyard, Conn., animal shelter.

I don't know much about Skylar, other than that he looks like an older dog, and was up for adoption in our local shelter last week. I didn't find him on my first search. I found him on my second. I couldn't find him on my third. So who knows? Maybe Skylar has found a home. Would that they all were so lucky.

Sandy Sandy's Stunning Saleena

Just when she floored me with her stunning rendition of the white German Shepard, I was blown away with this beautiful calico.   Calico ID #-25478 from the Burlington County Animal Shelter of Mount Holly, New Jersey was named by Sweet Sandy because she felt #25478 looked like a Saleena.  It appears Sandy has been able to work her magic because Saleena was chosen by the Shelter's Director herself [Lisa Cliver] to be featured in one of Sandy's magical paintings.  

Please stop by and comment on Sandy Sandy's post where you'll also be able to see her in progress image of this awesome watercolor.

Beautiful Bruno

Bruno, German shepherd mix, by Vern Schwarz. Oil on masonite, oil on masonite 7 x 5.75. To be donated to the shelter in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada,
where Bruno is waiting to go to a forever home.


The very talented Vern Schwarz has painted another soulful dog looking for a good home. Vern says he painted Bruno the other night, instead of watching a movie. Vern hopes to drop his first two paintings off at the shelter this week. We can hardly wait to hear about the shelter's reaction!

Check out Vern's excellent painting at his blog, Vern Schwarz Art. You'll enjoy his art and his writing.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

An example of a piece in progress

Please check out Sandy Sandy's blog.   She posted an example of how she is working with a shelter manager and helping a particular critter they would like highlighted.    She's quite cute too.  [The pup and Sandy Sandy....]

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Powerful Painter Paula Villanova

11x14 Acrylic on canvas


What I've found wonderful since starting this project is to see all the different styles of painting and rendering on the same subject.  Animals desperate to find a home of their own.

Art for Shelter Animals is honored to have another artist I admire join our project.  Paula Villanova went to her local shelter and spoke to the staff at the Scituate Animal Shelter in Scituate, Massachusetts.   She had the experience of seeing cats that are "awesome... and very curious" during her visit.  This lovely kitty must have known what she was up to and gave her this awesome pose.  

Please visit Paula Villanova's blog and Website and see her other wonderful artwork.  She has a wonderful unique style and talent for making ordinary scenes extraordinary.  Thank you Paula!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Stupendous Sandy Sandy



Aren't these FANTASTIC!?!?   Check out Sandy's update on her meeting with Staff at Burlington County Animal Shelter and with the animals she's painted.  Here's a letter she received from the Shelter Manager:


Dear Sandy,

 

I checked out the paintings you have done for the shelter and they are wonderful!  I am very interested in getting together with you to discuss ways we can use your artwork to promote the shelter’s animals.  You are very talented and I am grateful that you have contacted me regarding this exciting opportunity.

 

I would like to invite you to the shelter for a tour and to discuss this subject in more detail.  Please let me know your availability.  I am here Monday through Friday from 8am to 4pm. 

 

I look forward to hearing from you.

 

Sincerely,

 

Lisa Cliver

Manager, BCAS


I am positive that the Manager is going to blown away when she sees the paintings in person.   The jpegs do Sandy's work no justice.   I'm sure Sandy will share with us her experience when she makes the donation in person to that lucky lucky shelter.   Great Job Sandy!   You're an Earth Angel!

Please check out Sandy's blog so you can see more of her fantastic art work, and more information about the Burlington County Animal Shelter.   I intend to show my SPCA know about Sandy and her work and perhaps she will get commissions from people in my area.   


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Patience pays off....

Just another update on my working with my SPCA.  I just received an email after not hearing from them for over a week.  I guess they have been working on getting set up for the program all this time.

Some updates:
  • They are going to obtain a display case for my paintings in both facilities.
  • They are setting up training for staff at both facilities to help sell the art, route the funds to the special needs animals and selection of same for the project.
  • They will post prints of the art work by the dog or cat's information  near their kennel or housing area.
  • They are building a webpage on the project and will feature it as the top story on their monthly newsletter that goes out to over 8,000 supporters.

One question she tentatively asked is if I would be interested in doing a commission for one of the staff members for their own pet.  He had seen the work I had already submitted and liked my style. I am absolutely thrilled.  I know staff and volunteers are not rolling in the dough so I said I would be happy to do so and only charge half of my regular commission prices.   

I will keep you informed as to how things unfold.   Hopefully if you're already started and want to explore getting into a deeper relationship with your shelter, you can bring some of these ideas to the staff of your respective shelter.  

I will continue to keep you informed about the developments on my end.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Moxie has moxie

Moxie. Oil on Pintaur panel, 5x8. To be donated to the Connecticut Humane Society,
Waterford branch.


Moxie is a female chow-German shepherd. She's 5 years, 6 months and three weeks old - and that specificity makes me think that whoever gave Moxie up loved her still. Another thing that makes me think that is that in her photo, she's wearing a bright yellow bandanna.

If you think you might like to adopt Moxie, call the shelter at 860-442-8583. And if you want to read about Frank, our wonderful adopted chow, take a look at my blog, The Accidental Artist.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Gotta luv'im!


Vern Schwarz does it AGAIN!  This is Rocky from the same shelter.  I hope he doesn't mind me quoting him but along with the jpeg in his email, he wrote:
These are so much fun to do in this small format, and they don't take too long to paint.   
I'm sure a lot of people could get hooked on doing this once they get started.
Vern believes Rocky has a little husky in him.  I think he has a lot of heart!  Speaking of having a lot of heart, I just have to give Vern a extra hug for being so generous about our project.  Thank you again Vern!!  Why don't you stop by his blog and see the bigger version of Rocky.  His mastery of brushstrokes is amazing.

Venerable Vern Schwarz!

This project is honored to welcome aboard the very talented Vern Schwarz!   Just look at his gorgeous and simply heartwarming portrait of Duke.  Duke is a doberman and bloodhound mix awaiting adoption at Vern's local Winnepeg Humane Society.  It is a 6x6 oil on masonite and you can view it in a larger format at his website.  Please check his blog out and learn more of this awesome and big hearted artist.  
Thank you Vern!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Boris

Boris. Oil on stretched canvas, 8x10. To be donated
to the Connecticut Humane Society animal shelter in Quaker Hill, Conn.

Boris is an 8-year-old hound mix who can be adopted from the Connecticut Humane Society animal shelter in Quaker Hill. According to his biography, Boris "enjoys the company of adults and older children who can provide him with a lot of exercise."

Any dog lover in the world will be able to translate that. And the translation is OK. Not every home has kids, and there are plenty of adults who would love a dog with the energy and desire to walk or run with them.

If you're interested in adopting Boris, or any of the other dogs or cats at the shelter, call them at 860-442-8583, or go visit. The shelter is at 169 Colchester Road, Quaker Hill, and is open Monday through Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (dog adoptions begin at 10:30 a.m.). Sunday, the shelter is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Progress report

I learned today that the Director of Fundraising and Publicity at the SPCA I'm working with wants to buy Bingo for another staff member.  With the assistant to this director telling me another staff member wants to buy Kayla for a volunteer, I believe the total comes to $90 for funds for Bingo and Kayla even before we launch the program officially for the public.

$45.00 for 6x8 oil on canvasboard is what Staff and I agreed was a good price for these works.


I think there are advantages with meeting people involved with the shelter to find exactly which critters need more assistance from us.  I believe staff really gets to know these particular animals not only because of their challenges but also because of their challenges, staff sees them stay at the shelter for extended periods of time.   I'll keep posting the roadblocks and small successes as I go along.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Irit Bourla

This talented Southern California artist holds down a full time job and manages to create beautiful works of art practically every day. The wonderful Irit Bourla took some time out of her busy schedule to paint this gorgeous scene with a variety of pups looking toward the future of having a home of their own. It is a large 14x18 gallery wrapped canvas painting which she is generously making available for her discounted price of $275.00 You may purchase this beauty directly from her at her website (where you can view her other awesome works) or email us for information.

If this painting does not sell before my SPCA's annual fundraising Gala, it will be donated to this event along with other works from prominent artists around the country.

I've said this before but it's worth saying again. Artists and art lovers are some of the most generous people I've had the pleasure of meeting. Irit Bourla is a prime example. Our deepest gratitude Irit!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Mighty Misty

Misty was a founding ambassador for the Pets with Disabilities organization.  This organization is a grassroots program run by a couple  ever since their own German Shepard, Duke became paralyzed one day.  Check out their amazing  website.

Misty died last year and I only learned this after going to their website upon reading an article about their project in Good Housekeeping.    I painted this as a memorial for Misty and plan to send it to Joyce Darrell and Michael Dickerson founders and owners of Duke.

My vision for this project has always been to expand this program to include other rescue organizations such as Equine and Wildlife rescue.  Now one of them is certainly going to include Pets with Disabilities.  Pets with challenges is the main reason I started this program in the first place.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Scotty

Scotty. Oil on gessoboard panel, 8x8. Painting to be donated to the Westerly, R.I., animal shelter.

Scotty is a good-looking guy, indeed. The animal shelter in Westerly, Rhode Island, an enthusiastic recipient of paintings from the Art for Shelter Animals project is Scotty's current - and former - home.

The description on Petfinder.com says that Scotty is an extra-large neutered male who has returned to the shelter because of an illness in his human family. "He is a big rugged boy," the shelter writes, "and would love a new family to spend his life with."

Scotty is 11. He's up to date with his shots, and, yes, he's house-trained.

In my book, there's something extra-special about the old ones. Their eyes might be a little clouded, their hearing a little muffled, their snouts a little gray. But through those old-pet eyes, they direct a lifetime of love at you, whether you're their first human or their 10th.

Scotty is up for adoption. The Westerly Animal Control office is located at the transfer station. You can call it at 401-348-2558, or find it on the web at http://www.petfinder.com/shelters/RI06.html

Home

"Home," by Lori Rowe.

When Lori Rowe isn't on the road, traveling the country with her husband and their three dogs and one cat, in their big RV, she lives on Long Island. And in her area, she says, there's not really a typical shelter system. Rescue groups take stray and abandoned animals and place them, and an active journalist writes about animals who need homes.

Lori - who makes delightful, fanciful paintings of dogs (check out her website, where you will find links to all her art sites) - loves animals, and wanted to be a part of the Art for Shelter Animals project. She decided to paint this piece, and donate it to one of the rescue groups in her area.

Like so many others, this dog needs a home. As he gazes, Gatsby-like, off the end of the pier, he can see one. One that's surely good enough. One that's almost close enough to touch.

Sandy Sandy's Sasha

Sandy Sandy, of Burlington County, NJ, has painted this white German shepherd, Sasha, who's in the local shelter. This is Sandy's fourth painting for the project. She's eager to donate her first three oils, but they're not yet dry, so she painted this one in watercolors.

Here's what she writes on her blog: "What a pretty white shepherd Sasha is. She is a bit shy at the shelter - her former owner couldn't take care of her any longer, and they want you to know that Sahsa is good with kids, but should be in a home with women only. Sasha would need to adjust to a home with men. They also said that Sasha likes to play with squeak toys. Can you give this young girl a loving home?"

Sandy also sent us a letter she's going to bring to the shelter with her paintings, and she will let us know how the shelter folks respond.

Already, Sandy has gone above and beyond the call for our project. She's launched herself into it with an enthusiasm that's boundless contagious. Sheila and I would like to award her the AFSA medal of thanks!

Monday, March 16, 2009

These were my "prototypes"


These two 6x8 canvas boards were the first paintings I made to approach my local SPCA with my project idea.  I went to their shelter and took photos with my pocket digital camera.  I didn't know the histories, but I thought they had interesting faces.  These opened the door to get me a meeting with their donations and publicity director.  She sat with me for about a half hour and then took these to the a meeting with the Board of Directors.  I offered to go to their shelter and take photos but the Director said she could email jpegs of the animals they wanted painted first.  As I've explained before some of the jpegs aren't as large as I want so I just make Art Cards of them.  Still waiting to see when they want to do their "launch" of the project.  I'll let you know when it is officially on the calendars. 

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sandy Sandy's Black is Beautiful

I'm going to nominate Sandy Sandy for MVP for this first week of our project.  Just look at this beautiful painting she just finished on one of the siblings Joey #1, Joey #2 and Boo.   Please check out her website and she listed additional info on the Shelter she's working with in New Jersey.  Thanks Sandy!

Already sold...

This is one of the first submissions by staff for a portrait.  Some of you have seen Kayla but SPCA staff member Kendra had requested this sweet pooch because another staff member requested  a painting to give to a volunteer.  This volunteer like so many others spends hours upon hours to make a dog or cat more sociable so it can be adopted.  A bonding and trust between the volunteer and the animal results in a success  but ironically the critter is taken away to go to a new home.  So as appreciation and also as a tribute to their dedication, staff members are already looking forward to having painting available for gifts or memorials of special animals that pass through their shelter.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Soulful Sandy No. 2

LinkSandy Sandy of Burlington County, N.J., is taking off with the Art for the Animals project. This little kitty is in her local shelter. Sandy writes "Today's 5" x 7" original oil painting is of #C-25195 and is the second painting of my series for the Art for the Animals project. This male American Domestic Short Hair is one of the many healthy, neutered animals available for adoption from the Burlington County Animal Shelter." Check out her website and her enticing compendium of work at http://sandysandy.com.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Sandy Sandy Spirit Artist




Sandy Sandy just completed a beautiful portrait of a female bulldog she found on her local shelter.          ( Burlington County Animal Shelter in New Jersey

Please visit her beautiful Website and her wonderful blog about her process of making her first Art for Shelter Animal Painting!

Bingo is his name-o




If this is your first time here, please take a few minutes and read Carrie's intro post, THANKS!

This handsome guy is Bingo.  He was chosen because he has been at the shelter since January of 2008!  Though he's a cool enough cat to have the volunteers offer their office as a residence, it isn't the same as having his own home.

Bingo helps the shelter by being their official "Test Cat".  He's the fearless guy that trots around the incoming dogs (while they are on leash of course) as part of their evaluation to see if they get along with cats and small children.  Maybe his name should have been Rambo or Rocky!


6x8 oil on Raymar

One more addition to our blog is a donation button located at the bottom of the sidebar.  I was telling another blogger that $1.65 buys a canvasboard for a struggling artist  ( for instance me on a fixed income) and in turn, the resulting painting can sell for around $45.00.  What a huge pay back for your investment.  The Shelter staff says $45.00 will buy a bed for a dog so they don't have to sleep on cold, hard concrete in their kennel.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Sad not Mad Max




If this is your first visit, please take the time to read Carrie's intro.  Thanks!

Max was living in a home for 10 years and for reasons unknown to me was sent to the SPCA.  Staff says he's just a sweetheart and loves to go for walks.  He was chosen because his special need is that he's deaf.  In his photo, I'm sure staff was trying to make him look happy and cute but he just looked so sad and probably confused as to why he's at a shelter.


6x8 oil on RayMar

An additional note:  Today SPCA staff said the Board of Directors approved some funding of materials for the paintings and now we're trying to figure out how to do this.   I suggested they tack on a little for each painting or card but they want to order the materials and send it to me directly.  I can do that for the canvases but I have no idea what to ask for in the other materials I use and still have.  [ like medium, oil paints, brushes, water color, cards, fixative and varnish]   Any ideas?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Big Blu

Big Blu is a pit bull. He is in the animal shelter in Ledyard, Conn. Painting by Carrie Jacobson.

Maribel and money for materials





Here is an art card for Maribel.  She was severely abused and injured before she came to the SPCA.  Because she is very guarded around food she can't be around small children and that is why they chose her to be featured.

I did ask the staff about being reimbursed for materials and she said she didn't think it would be a problem tacking on $5 onto the price of the painting for that purpose. This is because I commited to try and donate one painting a week.  You do not have to make this kind of commitment.  She just needs to run it by some folks before getting the official okay. Oh, that's for the oil paintings on board.  I think I'll ask for 50 cents a card which I commited to try and do one a week.  Do you think that's reasonable? I'll let you folks know how this plays out.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Romeo oh Romeo...







Thank you Cariie for starting this blog!  Just a little background on my reason for starting a program in my area.  I would often visit shelters with my kids.  I was trying to teach them to care and help animals because they are a special part of our world.  I was frustrated because of my financial situation I was not able to adopt many more animals or make a contribution to the shelter as often as I could.

I felt other people would feel the same way about it and I tried to think of a way to do something about it.  I approached  my local SPCA and asked if I could donate a small painting and some Art Cards that they could sell directly to the public.

I suggested they post a sign next to the critter they chose for me to paint to inform the public that they could purchase a painting which would buy a bed for the dog, cat or other animal or they would receive the painting upon adoption.  I wanted to also paint smaller easily affordable art through the art cards.  They could sell the  original for about $10 and sell prints for about $2.  That way, the children would not only have a keepsake but feel they were actually helping the animals left behind.

I told the staff I didn't want to concentrate on the cute kittens and puppies because I knew they would not have to much of a problem getting adopted.  We agreed that I would start with their Senior Citizens and animals with health challenges.  

This is one of the examples I chose to do an art card because of the jpeg image they emailed to me.  As you can see it was not the greatest photo and it was a very small file.  So instead of a painting , I rendered a little card with Romeo's likeness.  Romeo has FIV which means he cannot live with other cats and his health needs extra close monitering.  So a person who adores cats and who cannot adopt Romeo can support him by purchasing the card or print of the card.

The local SPCA and I are in the midst of preparing a "launch" of the program and when that occurs I will let you know how it goes.  I will also let you know of any glitches and ways we resolved them as we encounter them.  Thank you for the interest in this project!


Welcome!

Amos. Never in a shelter. October 1989 to Dec. 2008.

Welcome to the Art for Animals project, where artists make paintings of shelter animals and then give the paintings directly to the shelters.

The project was the brainchild of Sheila Tajima and, eventually, me. I wanted to answer President Obama's call, I wanted to do something to help the community. I'd thought of donating a percentage of my sales to my local shelter, or of doing some paintings of shelter animals, but Sheila had taken it one step farther.

Artists, join with us! Make a painting - or two or three or more - of animals in your local shelter, and then give the paintings to the shelter.

Explain to the shelter that it is free to do whatever it wants with your paintings. It can use them as inducements to adoption - bring this dog home and you will get this original painting - it can sell the paintings, make posters or cards from them, auction them - there's no end to the possibilities.

Your paintings need not be large or formal or framed. You can use them as an opportunity to try a new technique, test a new color or approach. You can use them as a painting exercise, a discipline, or just a fun outlet for your talent.

If you have the time and energy to spearhead a movement in your area, do it! Visit the shelter first, just to make sure it's on board. Then, make posters, send out emails, approach local painters, broach the idea to anyone and everyone you can.

If you only have the time or energy to make your own paintings, that's fine, too.

Many U.S. shelters work with petfinder.com. You can go to the site, call up your local shelter, and paint from the pictures you find. Otherwise, you can go to your local shelter and take your own photos, or paint live.

When you've finished the painting, send a jpeg of it to carriebjacobson@gmail.com, or aoitombo@gmail.com. We will post your paintings here. Directions for sending your jpgs may be found on the right-hand side of this blog, as well. Make sure you let us know where you live!

Be sure to leave your name and contact information with the paintings that you donate. You never know what could come of this good deed! And if there's a newspaper in your neck of the woods, try approaching it with the Art for Shelter Animals idea. A sample letter is available on the side of this blog.

We hope every painter in America joins us in this project. Let's do what we can to make life better for those who have no words.

I'm dedicating this first post to all the animals who have died, in homes, in shelters, in the streets. They live in our hearts, the hearts of painters, and poets, and people who, in one way or another, have had the courage to love these once-forgotten creatures.