Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Dog Portrait Artist Matt Tames And The Sketchbook Project

Pet Portraits for a Cause
By Matt Tames of little BIG Pet Portraits


As an artist and an animal lover, I’ve always tried to find ways to help animals with my artwork. For example, I would donate my animal paintings to different rescue organizations for their fundraising auctions, and donating to the Humane Society for all the sales on my website.

But I wanted to think of a way to do something more for animals in need of loving homes. So I started my blog, little BIG Pet Portraits, where I feature an adoptable pet of the week. I find a needy pet from a shelter or rescue organization, and I use their photos to paint a pet portrait, which I feature on my blog along with their story and information on how to adopt.

Adopting a dog or cat in need is one of the most rewarding things you can do, and you will receive unconditional love in return. When you adopt from a shelter, you save the lives of two animals, the new friend you adopt and another homeless pet off the streets that now has comfortable, safe shelter in that space you helped to free up. Adoptable pets are not to be pitied, they have so much dignity and love to share, and often, incredible stories of triumph. So I don’t paint them looking sad and homeless, I try to paint them in their best light, usually in whatever environment or activity I think they would be happiest. For example, I’ll paint a herding dog on a farm or a Scottish Terrier in the Highlands.


Last year around this time, I painted an Irish Setter in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, and to raise awareness about setter rescue. It was a scary time for animal rescue workers in Mississippi, because eight Irish Setters were running free in the woods after their owner had died and they were left to fend for themselves in a large rural, unfenced area. Scared and hungry, they were lost in the wooded and overgrown area and the rescuers finally collected all of them after leaving food out for a few weeks. They were glad to be found, but all suffered from anemia, heartworm and flea infestation. They received great care in loving foster homes, and six of them have already been placed in their forever homes. One of their adopters even found my website and contacted me about purchasing the print I did. It’s very rewarding when I hear from the dogs’ adoptive family or foster family; it makes me so glad I started this project.

I recently took on the challenge of illustrating fifty shelter dogs and cats for the Sketchbook Project, a traveling art exhibit that is completing a nine-city tour in 2011. I chose pets from each of those cities and the surrounding areas and featured their stories and adoption information alongside original watercolor pet portraits.

Please visit our blog to see more artwork and current pets for adoption, or “like” us on Facebook. And if you are looking for a new pet, definitely consider adopting from a shelter. You will gain a grateful family member and best friend for life!
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Ed. Note: To see if the Sketchbook Project will be on view close to you check their link of places and dates.