I am an artist and blogger. My artwork is inspired by my life with my house full of senior and handicap dogs. I sell both my original paintings and prints of some of my originals in my Etsy Shop. I have an online Art Gallery for viewing. Check out my About Page to learn more about me and the Misfits.
Pet themed coasters…a quick and simple to make gift idea.
My husband and I recently finished up decorating some new vacation rental properties…one of which is a pet friendly unit. I needed some coasters for the unit…when I attempted to shop for them I was surprised at what stores charge for coasters these days…so I made some of my own. After a little research on materials they were super easy and fast to make.
Your Supply list: Travetine tiles (Home Depot), Grout Sealer, Archival stamp pad, stamps, felt or cork backing
The best tiles for coasters are travertine…porous tiles. Stamping on non-porous/glazed tiles is not going to work. The only place I could find the travertine tiles (at a reasonable price) was Home Depot. I purchased two different styles of these Premiere Decor tiles…both worked fine. Be careful when you buy them…inspect the package as best you can to make sure none of the tiles are cracked, chipped or broken. Your results will be best if you rinse the tiles well before you use them (let them dry over night).
I used a variety of stamps I had in the house to decorate the tiles. You will need to use an archival stamping ink. I use the Ranger Archival Ink pads for most projects. You can get these pads at Michaels or Hobby Lobby…they are usually about $12.00 and they last a really long time. After you stamp your design on your coasters let the ink dry (I would let it set for at least a few hours).
I looked up all sorts of methods for waterproofing coasters before I did this project. I saw ideas to use everything from Mod Podge to boat sealer. I don’t know about boat sealer…didn’t try it. But I am not a fan of using Mod Podge on coasters because it does not interact well with water. I wanted a waterproof coaster…not smudged by or stained by a sweating glass. Since my husband and I just finished remodeling several bathrooms we had a bottle of grout sealer on hand. I gave it a try and it turned out to be a great solution for waterproofing these coasters. I set my stamped (dry) coasters in a box..took them outside (grout sealer smells) and sprayed them (soaked them actually) with the grout sealer. I let them dry and repeated the spray two more times. The end result was washable, non-smudging coasters.
The last step was to back the coasters so they wouldn’t scratch my tables. I used a metal die for my Big Shot to cut my backings…but you could easily just cut squares by hand. I glued my backing (I used cork that I picked up at Michaels) with Beacon’s glue. Beacons is my “go to”
glue for projects that need a really heavy duty glue. Beacon’s has a wicked odor…so open a window and don’t get it on your fingers. Once Beacons glue is completely dry the odor is gone. I set my coasters upside down and let the glue dry overnight.
I also tried this project with coasters that I hand painted with acrylic paint. The grout sealer worked well to waterproof the hand painted coasters.
Things here at Misfit Manor have been insanely busy…our vacation rentals have been busy and the dogs keep me endlessly (but joyously) occupied. We are all happy to see spring…it is so lovely here in Kentucky.
If you love all things pet and pet rescue please follow my blog and/or my Facebook Page. I also have a Pinterest Page full of great resources for pet lovers. If you are looking for pet rescue art, pet sympathy items or pet adoption cards please check out The Rescue Mama ETSY shop! Also, check out some of my other free pet craft tutorials on my website.
When my husband and I moved to Kentucky we signed up to foster dogs with several local rescue groups…we have fostered 9 dogs in about a years time. Throughout the year several Chihuahua’s came to our home…all of whom were precious and two of whom we adopted. Neither of us had previous experience with Chihuahuas…now both my husband and I are enamored with this breed.
The girls we adopted, Lucy and Luna, were shelter mates. We know nothing about their lives prior to landing in a Kentucky shelter. Luna is very old…she has some fairly serious health issues but is still sprite and we couldn’t love her more. Despite her physical challenges Luna still boss
es all the other dogs around. Lucy is very young, she stole my husbands heart and somehow manages to be both the sassiest dog we have ever met yet also the sweetest.
Shortly after we adopted Lucy and Luna I started doing some reading on the breed…it was then I realized how at risk the Chihuahua breed is in shelters. I was aware that they are at high risk in places like California but I had no idea they have the second highest kill rate in shelters nationally, behind only pit bulls…heart breaking and senseless. I had a lot of time this fall to do some sketching while I was dabbling in the world of doing art shows…Luna came with me to most of my shows. My Chihuahua girls dominated my sketches…I finally turned two of the sketches in to paintings and I am looking forward to finishing more them. I am having a lot of fun turning the combination of sassy and sweetness of the Chihuahua personality into paintings.
Both of these originals will hang at the Central Kentucky Veterinary Center in Georgetown, KY until they sell. I will have prints and cards available by the middle of next week.
Pet Rescue Art: If I am breathing I will be rescuing.
I just recently finished this little diddy…I decided a long time ago that since we all exit this life the same way eventually (empty handed and six feet under) that rather than accumulate “things or experiences” that I wanted to be completely used up when I die…I choose to use up whatever energy and resources I have being involved with pet rescue…whether its using my art, caring for my own house full of rescues, training rescue dogs or fostering homeless dogs…it is truly the highest privilege in life to find the vocation God destined me for…I live a blessed life.
This painting is an acrylic on canvas…11×14…glossy archival finish. This and many other of my paintings are available at my ETSY shop. I donate a portion of all of my sales to pet rescue groups.
If you are in to all things pet and pet rescue don’t forget to follow me on Facebook and Pinterest!
I firmly believe that what we do in this life will follow us in to the next life. We all leave a trace while we are here…some call it a legacy…be it small or grand though it will follow us. My trace, like most people’s I suppose, is a mix of good and bad. I had my wild years…the years where what I left behind was more like a stain than a trace. But my animals continue to rub my rough edges off. I will leave no grand legacy…just a trace of life with animals. I hope that trace is learning to work with difficult dogs (who for some reason are the one’s that steal my heart) and sharing the realities of how poorly animals still fare in our increasingly complex and unfeeling world through my art.
I started painting just a few years ago. My muse was my Rottie Hercules. He was also the reason I had to learn to train dogs. Like his human mama…he was head strong, difficult, didn’t always play well with others and enthusiastic about everything he did (good and bad). After he died I had a broken heart for a long time. It seemed like no time had passed at all before I was losing my clear mental picture of him…I felt like I was losing his face. So I started doodling/drawing him and then one day picked up some cheap pastel paints and painted him. On the left is this very first painting.
I was hooked after this..painting became my outlet. Every time I felt moved in regards to my own animals or the fate of other animals…I turned to painting to work it out. I am what they call in the art world an “outsider”. I have no formal training…actually I do not even have any informal training. All I have is a desire and passion to speak for animals through art. It was therapeutic for me…I never thought that what I was doing would resonate with others.
Two year ago I finally had enough paintings finished to open an ETSY shop. I started my little art shop with the hope that it would be a way for me to give voice to homeless animals and raise money for homeless animals while still being able to be present at home for my own house full of rescued pets (I have eight of them).
In the last two years I have shipped art to 29 states (CRAZY) and the momentum continues to build. The first three months of this year allowed us to raise our largest amount of funds so far …just over $1,200.00…I hope this momentum continues and I can’t say enough how much I appreciate everyone who frequents my shop, sends me referrals and connects me with rescue groups running large auctions.
I raise money in two ways…the largest portion is from my original paintings that go straight to charity auctions to raise money. My highest single auction sale to date has been $700.00 for one painting. If anyone had told me that I would make a painting that fetched that kind of money I would have laughed at them. I also donate a percentage of any sales of my art and handmade leashes from my ETSY shop to rescue charities.
Parting with my art is an odd thing. I am of course happy when I sell a piece or ship one off to auction. But there is also a strange remorse. I am parting with a piece of myself that I will never see again. It really is quite strange.
Fortunately, I am blessed with a house full of rescued cats and dogs that are my constant muse for my art. They give me so many ideas for more paintings that it feels like I have ping pong balls bouncing around in my head…I have to write them down or I will clutter them out. My website has been a great place to share my ideas and I appreciate everyone who reads and comments here.
Every life is precious…and that means the sweet animals too! God Bless and thanks for your support over the last two years!
I live in a state where the news flow is littered with stories of animal neglect and abuse…you really can’t avoid seeing it unless you choose to shut the world out completely. Every time I see a new story I look at my own dogs and wonder how could it happen so often. The reality is that I know how it happens…people who abuse the innocent…whether its a child, an elderly person, a
handicapped person or an animal are spiritually sick. The rest of society has to take the responsibility to do their best to protect the innocent and vulnerable from the spiritually sick. I painted this little diddy after I read about a particularly disturbing animal abuse case right here in Scott County…I won’t retell it…but it was horrible. This painting went viral pretty quick on Pinterest….guess I am not the only one who feels protective of my dogs!
My dog’s are all sweeties…but all shall pity the fool who messes with mama’s dogs!
Do you love all things pet and pet rescue? Follow me on Facebook or Pinterest…check out my ETSY shop for this other and other paintings!
Pet Rescue Art: Do we see our pets again after death?
What I am working on in my studio usually speaks to what is going on in my head and heart…lately is it grief and sadness. Grief is such a strange journey…its unique…no two losses are the same but no single experience of the loss of a loved one is about the loss of just that one loved one. When we open up for grieving it usually re-opens many old wounds that never completely healed. I find that my sensitivity to everything around me is heightened when I am experiencing grief. My ability to truly feel the experiences of another person or animal is so acute that it is physical. It is both an awful and awesome place to be emotionally and spiritually.
I am of the opinion that we never “get over” the loss of someone we care about. Rather, we just learn to live with the pain. The piece of our heart that breaks when they are gone remains broken and becomes part of who we are forever. It is part of becoming truly human.
I also believe we see our pets on the other side of life. Not because I “need” to believe that nor believe it is something polite and appropriate to say when anyone is in pain over the loss of a beloved pet. I believe it because it is logical to believe it. It is congruent with a Christian world view to believe it. And there is tangible evidence that we see our pets again. To say that a living creature is lost forever when it dies would constitute a belief in a world view called ” annhilationism”. Annihilationists believe that anything that is alive is gone forever once physically dead. The problem with that belief is that collective human intelligence (and by that I mean almost every single society that has ever walked this planet) has rejected annihilationism. Almost every society has believed in the spiritual birth of something new after death. While those belief systems vary, of course, what they hold in common is that there is something beyond life in the flesh for creatures. To hold the view that any creature, human or animal, is annihilated after death would put you in conflict with most of humanity…so which view does it make logical sense to hold? A Christian world view holds that all of creation is redeemed and part of God’s plan…while I will write more on this at another time…to exclude our beloved pets from God’s redeemed creation would be in direct conflict with a Christian world view. While it’s not as common to talk about it in a contemporary culture that does not want to deal hands on with death and dying…stories of what happens during the dying process and accounts of Near Death Experiences tell us a lot about what awaits us on the other side. And these experiences include interactions with animals; particularly pets already gone.
I like to think of the pets gone before me as waiting for me…which is selfish…really I hope they are running and playing with others and doing what they were meant to do naturally. But I know I will see them again. I hold this belief so strongly that while I love life on this side…I look forward to it on the other side just as much.
I have been painting Sparky, my beloved black lab who recently died. The painting is taking awhile because sometimes I am too emotional to work on it. It is a painting of how I picture him looking down on me now. (ok…tearing up as I write this…). I will share it when its done. I believe its completion will bring me as close to closure as one can get when a loved one dies.
Thanks for reading my posts and viewing my art. Much of my art is for sale at my ETSY shop. Sparky’s passing has opened a new chapter in my pet journey…one that is very focused on a new member of our family, Buster. Buster is a reactive dog that came here in a pretty wild state…I have decided to start chronicling the ways I have worked with Buster’s reactivity in hopes it can help other dog parents dealing with reactive dogs.
If you are in to all things pet and pet rescue check us out on Facebook or Pinterest!
Hey everyone…here is a shameless plug for my Patriotic Dog Leashes. Kringles and Lacey sport theirs every Memorial Day and 4th of July. These are a feature item in my Rescue Chic line…a Pawsitivley stylish way to make a difference. We donate a portion of our leash sales to pet rescue charities.
These leashes are made of an Acrylic yarn…very durable. They are 36 inches long…1.5 inches wide…with a 3/8 inch swivel snap hook. They are safe for small dogs. I use these leashes for my Pom and my Lhasa (11 pounds and 15 pounds) and feel very safe walking the dogs with them. The leashes have jingle bells attached under one of the flowers…because every little cutie should make a little jingle when they walk!
Pet Rescue Art…important messages from the pets we love…
Hands down… the sassiest dog I have ever met is our Lhasa mix; Lacey Mae. They say that the dogs that challenge us the most are the dogs we love the most…I can say from experience that this is true. Lacey was a challenge literally from the moment I met her…and we love every bit of her. Now that my shop is up and running steady I (in theory) have time to expand this year and Lacey Mae is going to step up to the plate and become my newest Pawffiti Artist. Through her I plan to do some Pawffiti Art that is considerably more snarky than I have done in the past.
Lacey’s persona evolved over a series sketches that occurred on Saturday nights. My husband’s favorite thing to do on Saturday nights is watch UFC matches. He likes me to watch with him. So just like he does, when I drag him to the opera, I sit and enjoy UFC with him. I usually bring either a sketch pad or some yarn and a crochet hook. It was on a few of these Saturday fight nights that Lacey’s character evolved.
Lacey came to live with us shortly after Bret and I got married in 2008. For some odd reason…we decided we wanted to open our home to a small breed dog…because two labs and rottweiler weren’t enough for us I guess. We met Lacey through a friend who thought that perhaps we could give this “troubled little dog” a chance.
We drove about an hour to meet her. We loaded up our three big dogs to do a meet and greet with Lacey. She did great with our dogs…particularly since she is just a fraction of their size. However, she pretty much just ran in circles around my husband and I and growled at us. When I tried to greet her…at what I thought was a safe distance…she charged, jumped up and bit my nose….HARD. Oddly enough…we took her home anyway. Not because we bonded with her, obviously, but because she clicked so well with our big dogs and frankly…she was out of options.
Lacey had been surrendered by her owners for “chronic biting”. She seemed to have no use for humans other than to charge, growl and chomp on them.
When we first brought her home…she spent a good portion of the day following me around the house charging me, growling and biting and my legs and hands. If the door was open…she was gone…it was like Chariots of Fire running down the street to get away. My poor husband chased her one morning in nothing but his PJ bottoms (no shoes)…into the woods…over fences..through our neighbors backyards…he caught her eventually…he wasn’t very happy with her that day.
Lacey is smart…and despite her growly ways…all she wanted was some attention. She very quickly figured out that she would get plenty of attention when she was calm and gentle…when she wasn’t calm and gentle…she was ignored. It didn’t take her long at all to win us over and show us her charming and affectionate side.
Lacey will always be a sassy dog with boundaries that need to be respected. She has personal space issues (so does mommy)…and she will snap at someone if they push her too far. But we know her limits and she knows our rules…she has become an irreplaceable member of our family.
I am not a dog trainer that believes that every dog with problematic behavior can (or should) be saved. There are unfortunately some dogs who are just simply a danger to humans and other dogs and it is in everyone’s best interest for them to either live life out in a sanctuary (there are very few that can do this) or be humanely euthanized…it sucks (believe me it sucks) but it is sometimes the most humane outcome. Lacey however, despite being labeled a “chronic biter”, was not one of those dogs.
She has become the princess of the household…sleeping in the middle each night…riding the Harley with mom and dad…and she has become the dog we take everywhere. She runs errands with mom…she goes on vacation with both of us. She doesn’t mind dressing up (really…she doesn’t) and has a large wardrobe so she can gussy up for every occasion. She also doesn’t take any crap and has a growly opinion about just about everything…hence she is going to be my newest artist. She has always had a lot to say. I am so excited to see what happens as Lacey unfolds on canvas…I hope you will follow her progress!
Pet Rescue Art: Dog Fighting Sucks…what is wrong with Kentucky?
I live just 20 minutes north of Lexington, KY. Lexington is the horse capital of the world. In my county and several of the counties surrounding us…horses are a focal point of community life. The barns built for horses here are nicer than most folks houses. There is a retirement home for race horses a few minutes from my house…some of these horses have earned upwards of $90 million dollars in their life time. The horse is sacred here.
For the most part everyone I meet here is also a dog lover. Just about everyone has a dog or two. Hunting dogs are everywhere here…for the most part the hunting dogs live productive lives as working dogs here…the bond between the hunter and his dog something to respect. The local humane societies are well supported…and there are numerous smaller fringe rescue groups as well. But there is also a dark underworld for animals here that few folks want to talk about.
Kentucky has the worst laws in the nation for protecting animals…dead last…they are in fact a disgrace. Because of the pathetic laws the abuse and neglect of animals (especially dogs) goes on publicly and is never punished. Sure, folks can (and will) call and report the abuse they see…but there is often little the authorities can do…dogs are left to suffer out in the open for everyone to see. There are no laws here to fit the crimes of cruelty to animals here…it is a sad, sad state of affairs.
Kentucky is also the ONLY state in the nation that does not consider raising dogs for the purpose of fighting a felony…literally the only state in the nation! Why is it so important to classify raising dogs for fighting as a felony you might ask? Because this is the only way to stop dog fighting. It is very rare that the authorities will catch dog fights “in theater”…their world is too secretive. The only way to stop dog fighting, that every other state in the union has already figured out, is to bust the creeps for raising fighting dogs in the first place. In Kentucky…raising fighting dogs goes on right out in the open. Kentucky is in fact a safe haven for dog fighting.
We also must not be naive about the world of dog fighting…its not just about cruelty to animals…its about drugs and violence against humans too. These are dark hearted people with no regard for life…not a dog’s life…not my life…not your your life.
The Louisville Humane Society recently stated that 80% of the dogs they in take are pit bulls or pit mixes…80%….and most of them come in with wounds and scars reminiscent of dog fighting. We also have another problem here in Kentucky…dog fighters need bait…animals that they can use to teach their fighting dogs to kill…we therefore have an epidemic of stolen family dogs. It’s sickening…but if your dog goes missing here…we want to hope for the best but we are in fact forced to at least entertain the idea that the very worst of fates has befallen our dogs.
There is a group here; Kentucky Coalition to End Dog Fighting, that has been tirelessly working to get laws passed to make raising fighting dogs a felony. But alas…there are legislators standing in the way…many of them. They “kill the bills” to protect the dogs by adding abortion amendments, ag gag amendments and other amendments that have nothing to do with dog fighting. Its disgusting but these politicians are elected (over and over) and have been getting away with this for years. There is still a chance that a bill will pass this month where anti-dog fighting language will itself be an amendment…we can hope and pray that it passes. If it doesn’t I hope for public outrage against these legislators standing in the way…but I doubt it.
I have no desire to opine about corrupt politicians and their role in the suffering of animals here in Kentucky..most thinking people know that the role of “career politician” has simply become a euphemism for corruption…removing all “career politicians” with term limits is the only answer to cleansing our corrupt government.
I do think it is worth reflecting on the state of a society that passively stands by in the face of cruelty. Basic kindness to animals should be easy…and it should be a key measure by which we judge our communities. Abominations such as dog fighting (any kind of animal fighting) are a blight…a dark spiritual sickness that every single civilized person should be unwilling to tolerate in any form. Here though…there is an entire segment of society accepts things like dog fighting and cock fighting as part of their “culture”. Whenever there is actually a raid of a dog fighting ring or cock fighting ring here there is a hardcore group of people that are outraged by the intrusion of government on this pillar of their history and culture…literally they identify things like cock fighting as “part of their culture and heritage”.
This is a picture my husband took in eastern, Kentucky (click on it and enlarge it). If you don’t know what you are looking it…the barrels are for fighting roosters. Roosters are tied to these barrels (which are their homes) until they are taken to the ring to fight. This picture was taken “in town”…it wasn’t hidden from civil society…these fighting roosters were being raised right out in the open for all to see…everyone driving by knows what the fate of these roosters will be…and nothing can be done for them.
Where I personally struggle the most with issues like cruelty to animals is NOT in pondering “how could they?”…”how could anyone be so cruel?”…I don’t wonder that at all…I know exactly how individual people can be so cruel…they are spiritually sick…in many cases spiritually bankrupt.
What I do struggle with is how can everyone else stand by and do nothing…how can we have a such a high level of “dis-interest” in ending cruel practices going on in our own communities…Most of us would never consider engaging in the world of dog fighting or cock fighting ..but at least in Kentucky…the voting population repeated elects legislators who refuse to put a legal end to it. This is a dark blemish on our society…we (Kentuckians) must end it…we (Kentuckians) cannot stand by in disgust and judgment rather we must be the voices for these animals. We have to do something about it…the animals can not put an end to dog fighting…but we can.
It appears there is one last chance for Kentuckians to speak up and encourage our legislators to finally do the right thing and stop dog fighting. There is a bill that has passed the Senate…was amended in the house and now must pass the Senate with the amendments again. It is SB143 and it has the anti-dog fighting provision as an amendment. Will you make the phone call? Call your state senator (800-372-7181)…call the Senate leadership…ask them to support SB143 and to take a stand against dog fighting. If you don’t know who your Senator is…click on the link here Kentucky Coalition to End Dog Fighting…and they have details and links to find your Senators and details about the bill. Like their page on Facebook if you want to follow this more closely…the phone calls matter THIS WEEK!!!!! I will be making the phone calls this week…will you?
I have spent the last few months learning the process of getting giclee prints made of some of my paintings…maybe I am just getting older…but navigating new things (especially technology) gets ever more complicated and frustrating. One of things I have learned the hard way with my budding art store is that it is a constant time battle to try to manage on an online store and have enough time to create. Running an online shop has required me to learn Search Engine Optimization, advertising and networking on social media and photography (which I still really stink at still). I have learned online payment systems…photo editing…the list goes on. My little art store has now shipped products to 29 different states in the U.S.! I am hoping to hit all 50 in the next year or so and at some point I would like to ship internationally.
I believe I have finally put together a cost effective yet very high quality team to get my art prints made. I am really excited that I can use my prints to generate even more funds for rescuing animals. So far in just the first quarter of 2015 The Rescue Mama Shop has generated $820 in donations of cash and merchandise to rescue groups. I am hoping to grow this number significantly throughout the year. I am hoping that my “Live to Rescue” Pawffiti will be a big part of that. When I first posted the original painting on Facebook last month it was well received and I had a lot of requests for prints (and tshirts and bumper stickers, etc).
Getting prints made requires professional photographs of the originals…I have found a wonderful photographer in Lexington (Mary Rezny) who does an amazing job creating my electronic art files for me and has been generous with her time answering my endless questions about the process. It also required finding a high quality printer that can provide archival quality prints that don’t break the bank…after test running a few shops I have been thrilled with the product I am getting from http://www.iprintfromhome.com.
I sell all of my originals and prints at my ETSY shop. 25% of the sales price of my originals go to rescue donations (the buyer can choose which rescue group gets the donation if the desire). For all of my print sales I donate 10% of the sale. I accumulate the total all quarter for my print sales and then write one check at the end of each quarter to a rescue group that I choose (which is usually a group in Kentucky as the needs for animals is so great here but there are other groups that I send to as well).
I have also been making cards with each of my new prints. They make great cards for new pet adoptions or simply as “thinking of you” cards for pet rescue friends, dog walkers, veterinarians. I am selling them for $3.99 at my shop.
This “Live to Rescue” painting was inspired by my Sparky…who as you know passed away last week. I can’t put in to words how deeply I miss him. Sparky spent his days either laying next to my easel or laying next to my desk…the house seems decidedly empty without him. I am so grateful that I have painted so many pictures of him…I bet he gets a kick out of knowing that his sweet face is hanging in so many homes around the country.
Years ago…the reason I started painting in the first place was the loss of my Rottie, Hercules. It was only a few months after he had passed that I realized I was losing my mental image of him…so I started doodling pictures of him and eventually I painted him…it was then that I realized…hey maybe I can do something productive with my painting. Here I am several years later with my own little shop. I am having fun…keeping the spirit of my dogs alive, giving voice to homeless and abused animals and raising some extra money for other dogs.
If you are interested in following my work more closely please follow my blog where I post weekly about my art, crafts and life with a house full of rescued pets and like my Facebook Page where I post daily.
Allow me to introduce you to Vera. Vera is a pittie girl who was rescued by a group called Muttley Crue Rescue in Ohio. A few weeks ago I was contacted by Muttley Cure looking for a painting for their Mardi Paws event in Cleveland, OH next month. I found Vera’s story on their website and fell in love with her…I just had to paint her. Prior to her rescue by Muttley Crue some horrid person poured hot oil on her body and left her to die. But look at her now…isn’t she lovely! I think everything about her just says “joy”. I am always amazed at how fast dogs and cats can recover both physically and emotionally after they have suffered at the hands of creepy humans.
The statement on Vera’s painting was a theme that Muttley Cure used on their website. I will be shipping off Vera’s painting for auction as soon as I have it photographed. I hope the painting raises a bunch of dough as Vera also has a heart condition and will need an expensive surgery. I will be making prints of Vera’s painting which I will put up for sale at my ETSY shop. I will donate a portion of the sale of each print to Muttley Crue. It will be a few weeks before the prints are available.
My paintings are my way of doing a little something more for dogs and cats who are still waiting for their forever home while still allowing me to be present at home for my house full of rescued pets…each painting I do is completed in a studio full of cats and dogs. Check out my Art Gallery to see more Pet Rescue paintings I have done.
Odds are I will never meet Vera but it was an honor to paint her!
Do you know a lot of heroic people? I believe I know a lot of them…I think they are all around us. Everyone has their struggles…some people wear them on their sleeve…some people bury them deep inside….but we all fight battles and those battles makes living life on life’s terms heroic in its own right. Still, we have the more obvious heroes…like our soldiers. A hero comes in many forms…and sometimes its the sweet soul who wanders to the shelter and rescues a dog…and sometimes it’s the dog.
Sparky, my black lab, has been creeping in to my art more and more…he creeps in to my dreams more too. He is very old now and sometimes I think his presence in my dreams is his way of beginning to say good-bye to me. I love to draw and paint him. He is a fascinating dog. When I first adopted him he was near a feral dog. I could not touch him or even get very close to him…he was never aggressive but he had no use for me…would not even take food from my hand. He had no concept of how to live in a home with humans and destroyed miraculous amounts of things in my home and would jump up and down (several feet up) when I put a leash on him. What kind of crazy woman adopts a dog like that might be a fair question…honestly…one that didn’t know any better.
While I was clueless then I know now that dogs come in to our lives when they are suppose to. Sparky, who for years wanted nothing to do with me…turned in to a loyal companion. He never leaves my side and has become a hero to other dogs. Whenever I hear someone say a dog is not adoptable…I cringe. Sparky was in that category. The weekend I adopted him (he had been adopted out several times and returned to the Humane Society) was his last chance…he was on doggy death row for the following week. Don’t get me wrong…the early years with Sparky were not easy….sometimes I could do nothing but cry at the things he destroyed …at the frustration of trying to manage little things like getting him in to the car. But oddly enough…in the midst of a very dark time in my life he started to change and calm down…he became the dog I needed at that time. Eventually, Sparky was the dog that went through dog training school with me…all of which were efforts to help my other dog (Hercules) who was terribly reactive. Sparky rocked dog training school…my mentor couldn’t believe his ability to focus on me (neither could I really…I think now of all the years I was underestimating what he could do). Now Sparky is the dog that I use to work with other dogs…those that are fearful and those that are reactive in the presence of other dogs. (Reactive is the politically correct way to say dog aggressive). There is something about Sparky’s presence that calms and guides other dogs to better behavior. I won’t pretend for one moment that I understand it nor do I feel the need to.
Sparky has a way of communicating with other dogs…his body language, his eyes..in ways that say all sorts of things I suppose…its so hard not to anthropomorphize our dogs…I would imagine he says things like…”knock it off you obnoxious idiot” to dogs like Buster and “follow my lead I’ve got your back” to dogs like Turnip.
But make no mistake…he is a near 100 pounds of a take no prisoners bad ass if he needs to defend his family. Very few times in all the years that Sparky has lived with me have I seen him go in to a guard dog state…but each time it has happened I have been both startled by and also proud of his fierceness…I believe he would die defending our pack. The first time my husband saw Sparky defend the pack he was shocked.
Since we moved to Kentucky Sparky has worked his magic with our two foster dogs; Turnip and Buster. Turnip is a fearful dog and Buster is a reactive dog. Sparky is a dog that gives other dogs a second chance…it is really a magical thing. Turnip was afraid of his own shadow…taking him for a walk in the neighborhood was nearly impossible…a blowing leaf, a passing car, a garbage can…all were potential threats in Turnip’s eyes. We started walking him with Sparky and it changed Turnip’s world. After his Sparky therapy…Turnip walks the hood like he owns it! Buster was an obnoxious idiot that wanted to hump and bully every dog he encountered. Sparky very quickly taught him some manners. Turnip and Buster will be Sparky’s last miracles…we declare him officially retired and will focus on caring for him in his old age.
We all owe Sparky a lot….the dogs and certainly Bret and I. We enjoy every day we have with him…and relish in the grace with which he is dealing with his old age. He is totally deaf now, his kidneys don’t function well, his hips are weak and he farts all the time…still he hangs with pack, goes on his daily walk (slooooowly) and rarely leaves my side. While he isn’t going to live here on earth with us forever…he will be in my dreams and in my art until we reunite on the other side…and I find great comfort in that. He is like magic to me…or maybe a better word is grace. Sometimes I think that in certain moments with our dogs we get rare but clear glimpses in to the mystery of grace…the only other place I have felt it is in my marriage…dogs and husband…what more could a girl want.
I leave you with all these thoughts and images of my Sparky…my sweety, my magic and when he needs to be … a badass!
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Pawffiti…important messages from the pets we love.
This is my latest Pawffiti…it marks the return of Hippie Kitty…I have painted her in the past with a different setting and with a different message. For reasons yet unknown to me it was time for her to return to canvas. My art is my way of doing more…it allows me to be present at home for my house full of pets yet still do a little something to help the some of the pets still waiting for a family. Hippie Kitty is going to be my first painting of which I have prints made. I have never made prints of my artwork before. I am not sure if that is because I didn’t have the time and energy to figure out how to do it or because I just wasn’t ready…but I suppose the more paintings and now prints I sell the more I can donate to help more animals. I found a fabulous photographer in Lexington, Mary Resney, who specializes in photographing artwork…she has been so helpful and patient with an amateur such as myself. She is making digital files of my artwork so not only can I do prints but at some point perhaps even some T-shirts and other merchandise. The prints will be available in a few different sizes and will be printed on canvas. The original is already listed for sale at my ETSY shop.
Like most of the country…Kentucky is having a wicked cold snap this week. Here that means that too many dogs and cats are scratching out a living outside on their own. There are a few counties in Kentucky that are really proactive…the animal control teams run non-stop responding to calls from concerned citizens who see dogs and cats left out in the cold. But in most counties here…these animals get little to no help. The laws protecting animals here are weak (the worst in the country in fact) and the appetite to change these laws even weaker. The flagrant social acceptance of things like cock fighting and dog fighting are hard to stomach. While I struggle with knowing what is going on around the state…I know I was meant to be here…time will tell what my own little role will be in the narrative of creating better lives for animals in Kentucky perhaps it will just be more painting. I will be going to Humane Lobby Day next month in Frankfort and hope to hear some positive news about what can be done to make Kentucky a better place for animals. It is going to take an army of advocates to change things here. If you are a Kentuckian…please join me in Frankfort on Feb. 24th…email me if you need details (firstname.lastname@example.org). If you want to follow more things going in KY to help animals follow my Facebook Page...I post any events, petitions, etc. there.
With all of our critters running around our house there really is no such thing as quiet time at the Halverson home…but we love our chaos and as the years pass Bret and I learn to appreciate life with animals more and more. I have come to the conclusion that the animals choose us…each one coming in to our lives when they are suppose to and leaving when they are suppose to. We have three very senior dogs and a senior cat…they began slowing down a lot in the last year or so and each has some sort of chronic health issue now. All of them manage to maintain their normal patterns albeit at a slower pace and they remain steadfast in their affection for us. I am always amazed at their graceful acceptance of their aging and limiting bodies…as I get older I hope I age as gracefully as they do. I consider it an honor to walk through their senior years with them and appreciate this time in their lives when they really do need their mama.
Its hard to believe that we have lived in Kentucky for six months now. Despite some of the heartbreaking scenes we see for animals here Bret and I really do love it. Kentucky is a beautiful state, the weather beats the pants off of Minnesota weather and we have made wonderful new friends here. We have decided we didn’t really buy a house here…we bought a great big project…more work than either of us realized. But this is our first home that we chose together as a married couple and despite the drafts, creaks in the floors, crooked doorways and questionable plumbing (eeek)…we love this house and for the first time in a long time…we feel like we are home. We have decided we want to name our home…so far we have a few potential ideas….but want to stew on it a bit longer…if you have any suggestions feel free to offer them up!
This painting has been a long time in coming…it has been on my mind since Turnip (our foster) entered our home. Seeing dogs living on chains is new for me…and it is so hard…no impossible for me to understand. When I see a dog on a chain…I DON’T think…”how could someone do this?”…because I know how one person can do this…they are spiritually sick. What I DO ask myself is…”how can an entire community stand by and let this happen to so many dogs…”
Kindness to animals is (and should always be) easy for us as a civil society. It is one of many important characteristics by which the spiritual health of our communities can and should be evaluated. I paint because I want to share the things that tug at my heart…the number of dogs living in distress in my own community weighs heavily on my heart…so here is my painting…what do you think?
The painting is for sale…it is up on my ETSY shop…as with all my paintings I donate a percentage of my sales to rescue groups.
Here is the picture of Turnip when he was rescued by SOAR. Here is a picture of Turnip today…
Our pets are a big part of the holiday festivities…they even have their own pet themed Christmas tree. I made these sweet little burlap paw print ornaments this year to go with the Paw Print Christmas Tree Skirt I made a few weeks ago. These ornaments were super easy to make and really inexpensive from a materials standpoint.
The supplies I used to make them:
ribbons and bells
To get my basic shapes for the ornaments I used die cuts for my Big Shot. I cut the front and back with the die cuts. I used burlap for the front of the ornament and stiff felt for the back. If you don’t have a Big Shot you could just as easily trace a jar or box on to your fabric and get the same result. You could also make these ornaments with any fabric you like (thought you might want to stiffen it)…I have just been on a burlap kick this year.
After I cut the front of the ornament out of the burlap I decorated it (painted it) before I glued it to the back. I kept these simple and used paw print stamps and black craft paint. I stamped the burlap with Archival Ink and then went over it with black craft paint. Simply stamping on burlap will not get you a dark finished look. I use Archival Ink pads because they are permanent. Let your craft paint completely dry before moving on.
I stuffed a small amount of stuffing in between the front and back of the ornament (just a bit) and glued it shut with Beacon’s. I prefer to use Beacon’s for projects because it has a good trade off between drying fast but not so fast that I don’t have time to re-position if necessary. I used ribbons and trims that I had in my stash to finish off the ornaments. I glued the ribbon that is meant for hanging the ornament to the inside of the back fabric before I put the ornament together. I added bows and jingle bells to the finished project as well. You could embellish with anything you want….holly, flowers, dog bones, etc. You could just as easily glue all this together with a hot glue gun as well. I was really pleased with how these turned out especially since they were so simple to make. I made all of these start to finish in one evening.
If you are a pet lover and crafter check out my Craft Page for links to more fun and easy ideas for pet themed crafts for you and your pets. If you are a lover of all things pet consider following my blog via email; I post 1-2X per week on all things pet (craft ideas, dog training, pet rescue and more) and I post daily on my Facebook Page.
I leave you with a picture of one of our foster dogs…Buster…he is just lovin’ this whole holiday/family thing…my folks came for an early Christmas in Kentucky…Buster got presents and loved hanging out with his foster grammy and grampy! If you have never fostered a dog…I highly recommend it…it is an amazing thing to see a dog who lost his original family begin to relax and feel at home and loved again. We love you Buster!
I don’t know about you but by the time we get this close to the holiday season I am all done with the shopping and craziness …its time to nest and craft! Christmas crafts are my very favorite to make!
If you are looking for a quick holiday gift for your favorite dog lover these candles and jars are simple and inexpensive to make. I made several different versions using only a few supplies (listed below). Nothing about this project in itself takes very long, however, you do have to let layers of the project dry overnight for the best results.
To light up the smaller finished candle holders I dropped in an inexpensive votive so the candle will be re-usable.
candles and jars
color tissue paper
vintage pet photos
snow flake or clear glitter
Distress Ink Pad to age your images
I used three different items to make my projects. I used a canning jar to make a candy dish, a plain glass candle holder (purchased at the dollar store) and a tall votive candle (also purchased at the dollar store).
For my vintage dog pictures I used the Christmas Cavallini Dog paper that I ordered from the PaperSource for $3.95/sheet. You could use any pictures you want though and old greeting cards work great too. I like the Cavallini papers because they are a heavy duty paper that won’t tear when you are working on projects. The images also don’t run or fade.
To get my project started I cut my images out from my Cavallini papers….for some candles I tore the images I have a rough edge on all sides of the image. I like to stain this images with Distress Ink to make them look older. I selected the tissue I was going to use with each candle and candle holder and cut it to the appropriate size for each project. It is better to make your tissue cut larger than smaller.
Coat your candle (or candle holder) with a fair amount of Mod Podge and literally roll your paper on to the candle. Don’t worry about wrinkles, they won’t show once we add the glitter…but do worry about tears…if the paper tears you will have light showing through and your finished project will looks sloppy…so work really carefully with your tissue. Once you are done let this dry overnight (you can let it dry for a shorter period of time…my general rule with mod podge though is to let layers dry overnight so I don’t end up with a tacky finished product).
Put a layer (generous) of mod podge on the back of your chosen picture and place it on the candle or candle holder. Smooth out any puckers or wrinkles. Because you are placing it on a round surface you will get some wrinkling. Put a light layer of mod podge over the front of your image and let it dry overnight.
Cover the entire candle – EXCEPT the image – with a light layer of mod podge…sprinkle with glitter and let dry overnight. If you want a finsihed project that does not shed glitter than go back over the dry project with another layer of Mod Podge (dab with a sponge brush). You will lose some sparkle but have considerably less mess. Let dry overnight.
I embellished each candle with items I had in craft stash…ribbon, greens, ornaments, bells, etc.
For the candy jar: I used a mason jar and red tissue paper. The tissue paper can be wrinkled and when you apply it to the jar there is no need to smooth out any wrinkles as the glitter will hide the wrinkles. You do want to be sure there are no tears though. If you have a tear in the tissue paper light will show through and your finished project will look sloppy. I tore out the image I wanted to use as the focal point of my jar. I used vintage photo distress ink to age the paper. I did not want light shining through the jar so I added some paint to the Mod Podge before I applied it to the vase.
The steps to get the paper on the jar are 1) cut your paper in a strip that will wrap all the way around your jar. 2) Coat your jar with mod podge (not too much or your going to have a mess, too little and your paper will tear). 3) Wrap your paper around the wet jar and cut off any excess paper. 4) Let the project dry (I usually let this dry overnight). 5) Coat the back of your vintage image with mod podge (generously) and place smoothly on your jar- do not put paint in your mod podge for this step. Once it is securely placed where you want it put a light coat of mod podge over image. Let dry overnight. 6) Coat your jar (with the exception of your image) with a layer of mod podge (no paint) and then sprinkle with glitter, let dry overnight. Optional step: If you don’t want any glitter flaking off your project re-coat the glitter with a light layer of mod podge (use a sponge brush and lightly dab). You will lose a little of the sparkle but in return will not have glitter flaking off the jar … which would be problematic if you are using it for a candy jar.
Here are some more photos of the finished jars….
Here are some other ideas for quick holiday gifts….there are free tutorials for all of these on my Craft Page!
When we “deck the walls” at our house pretty much everything has a pet theme to it. This wreath was super easy to make and fairly inexpensive as well. Most of the embellishments on the wreath were made from supplies I had in my craft stash. You could use just about anything for this, pet toys, chews, ribbons with paw prints, etc.
I started with a plain wreath I purchased on sale at Hobby Lobby. I cut the red beads off of it but left the pine cones. I also purchased a plain burlap bow at Hobby Lobby (on sale). You could easily make your wreath bow out of any pet themed ribbon but I have been going with a lot of burlap crafts this year. I used a paw print stamp, Archival Ink and black craft paint to decorate the bow. After it was dry I tied it on to the wreath.
The red wooden bone ornaments were plain wood dog bones that I purchased at JoAnne’s last year after Christmas on sale. I painted them red with craft paint and tied large jingle bells to them. I looked at the JoAnne’s website and I don’t yet see them on sale this year. However, you could use a dog bone cookie cutter and trace them on to felt. There are also really cute glass dog bone ornaments at Hobby Lobby that would work well too.
The paw print hearts I made from burlap and felt from my stash. I used a heart heart shaped stencil to cut them out. I used a stamp, Archival ink and black craft paint to put the paw print on the front of the heart. I filled them with a little stuffing and glued them shut with Beacons (felt on the back). I added a bow made from paw print ribbon. I attached them to the wreath with thread.
I finished the wreath off by gluing several small red and white raw hide dog bones around the wreath. I found these at Walmart for a few dollars (I do not feed these to my dogs).
I hope you are having fun getting ready for the holidays this year! We moved this summer to a new house in Kentucky (from Minnesota) and while it is a super cool house (built in 1875) it is a bit of a project so we are decorating for the holidays around our remodeling projects.
We are excited this year for the holidays in our new home…and thrilled that our pets are going to have a warmer winter to enjoy than what we used to have in Minnesota. We are grateful that our Sam is doing so well (he is our dog that had the stem cell procedure) and we are also grateful for the two foster dogs living in our home. We can’t wait to have a great holiday season with them. One of our foster dogs, Turnip (Jack Russell mix) lived a life of hell chained to a post for four years; sick, skinny and cold. This will be his first winter inside a warm home and we are THRILLED that he is spending it here. Our other foster dog, Buster (lab mix), was dumped by his family recently and is working hard to try to fit in here…we are thrilled to have him in our home. I firmly believe that some of life’s greatest blessings come wrapped in fur….Buster and Turnip are great blessings.
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