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HELP! There's a VEGAN Coming For Dinner!


Art for the Animals

Posted 6/24/2014

I recently had a clearout event for my art studio, which I closed after 20 years of painting. It sounds like a sad thing to do, but in reality it’s something I’ve been planning for quite a while. Downsizing has given me the final push I needed to get the artwork out of my house and into other people’s homes. The plan was simple – post the event on Facebook and Kijiji, take anonymous donations for an animal welfare charity, and brighten the walls of friends and strangers. For the most part, it worked exactly as planned. People came, selected artwork, made a donation, and left I’m still smiling about the guy who took a painting containing Pythagorean calculations to put in his computer room, the lady who now has chickens hanging on her kitchen wall, the tearful woman who took away her first ever pieces of original art, and the young mother who now has artwork for her small son’s room. Heartwarming stuff. And yet, sadly, one person became the fly in the ointment. The cloud on the horizon. The hair in the peanut butter. The rain on my parade. The one who said “OMG - I feel so guilty,” as she threw the loose change from her pocket into the donation box and left with a considerable number of paintings to hang in her new four-bedroom home. “They’re for my children,” she cried as she loaded up the small paintings hidden behind the large ones. I really wish I didn’t know that her kids are well past the age of car and ABC paintings. “My walls are so bare!” she declared as she manoeuvred the medium size ones out of the door. “I feel just awful!” she said as she dragged out the large ones. Her final words were “I feel so bad! So bad!” as she leapt in her van and drove away. I felt bad too. She took what should have been a joyful event and tainted it. Greed and guilt are things we do to ourselves, and neither brings happiness. It bothered me, perhaps more than it should, until a friend told me a Polish proverb. “Every time you feel yourself getting pulled into someone else’s nonsense, repeat these words. Not my Circus. Not my monkeys.”

japaneseAnd then I think of the other people who came, and my day brightens again. The lady who returned with a sealed envelope to put in the donation box, because helping animals was important to her. The young woman who fell in love with three small pieces to hang in her tiny apartment. The hugs, the tears, the smiles, the laughter. The ones who took art to sell at fundraisers for other charities. The gratitude of lovely people who understood that art is special and something to be enjoyed. And my gratitude at seeing my creations go to loving homes. And, of course, the happiness I felt at the end of the sale when I selected some charities to donate money to. It was a difficult choice to make. Should I give everything to one organisation and make a big difference, or split the cash between a number of charities? I the end, this is what I chose to do. Five animal welfare groups would each receive an equal amount, with the remaining twenties and loose change going to a local fundraiser to renovate a home for a child. After all, how could I choose to help cats, my companions of choice, and not help dogs? How could I ignore rabbits, when I lived with one as a child? How could I ignore a sanctuary which promotes animal welfare? And, of course, how could I ignore a local handicapped child when my niece spent her short life in a wheelchair?

These are the charities I chose:

The Cat Rescue Network:

Gentle Jakes Coonhound Rescue, which a friend has connections with:

Sit With Me, as recommended by someone at my clearout event:

New Moon Rabbit Rescue:

Big Sky Ranch:

Help Lauren King:

Thank you to everyone who made this possible by giving words of encouragement, making donations, giving my art a loving home or picking up pieces to help other charities. And to those who read this blog and decide to make a difference in the lives of animals or people... thank you. Make a donation, volunteer, email a neglected friend, write something kind on someone’s FB page. Do something nice for someone today – you’ll be glad you did.

Karen :)