By the end of April, Houston artist Leiann Klein expects to have a lot more dogs around her house. In order to raise money for rescue dogs, Klein has launched a project where she’s trying to paint 30 dogs in 30 days.
Talking to Houston television station KHOU, Klein says that her project is “kind of like training for a marathon.” Every day, she gets up, selects one of the many photographs that people have sent in, and starts painting. When she’s done, each of the paintings will be auctioned, with half the proceeds to benefit Operation Pets Alive, a Houston group that rescues and adopts out pets.
As you might imagine, Klein’s fundraising campaign takes place as much on social media as it does on the canvas. It has almost become an interactive performance project; she shows off finished work as well as work in process via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and she solicits feedback from her followers.
The inspiration for 30 Dogs in 30 Days came when Klein adopted a rescue dog, an Australian Shepherd named Jasmine. Klein painted Jasmine’s portrait and posted it on Facebook; the reaction was so overwhelmingly positive that she picked up five commissions to paint portraits of other peoples’ dogs.
From those first few portraits came the idea of 30 Dogs in 30 Days, and using it to help Operation Pets Alive.
“Leiann has been doing a phenomenal job,” said volunteer Misti Etheridge. “Not to mention, her paintings are fantastic. If she raises $5,000 and we get $2,500, that’s going to save a lot of lives.”
A dog a day adds up to a lot of dogs, and a lot of paintings. Even though her house and studio are already covered with photos of more than 300 dogs people have submitted, more continue to come. Many of them come with stories as well.
“I read a lot of stories about how much people miss these dogs who’ve come into their lives,” the artist told the Houston Chronicle. “To be able to possibly create a painting for people to remember them by, it’s an honor.”
The biggest rule that she has for submissions is that each must include a full head shot, with clearly visible eyes, nose, and mouth. Photos can be cropped, or she can crop them, but she needs a face to work with.
Klein’s project is very reminiscent of another, larger project: the Act of Dog project, by Mark Barone and Marina Devan. Since 2011, Barone and Devan have been trying to paint the images of 5,500 dogs who never found homes and wound up being euthanized by shelters.
Klein, who compares her current project to prepping for a marathon, is just going to stick with 30 for now.
“I wish I had the stamina to paint 365 dogs in 365 days,” she said in a TV interview.
For now, people seem to appreciate watching her just do 30.
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