Asheville artist paints pet portraits to help a local animal shelter spread awareness
by Emily Nowels
ASHEVILLE, NC — Last year artist Angela Alexander, who specializes in pet portraits, partnered with Brother Wolf Animal Rescue (BWAR), a no-kill shelter in Asheville, NC, to begin working on a series of paintings entitled “Forget Me Not.” This ongoing project features portraits of dogs who have been under Brother Wolf’s care for an extended period of time.
With this project Alexander promised to donate 100 percent of the earnings from the sale of the first original painting, 50 percent of the earnings from subsequent original sales, and 30 percent of all print earnings to Brother Wolf. Since the project began, Alexander has raised over $2000 for the cause.
Obviously the series provides ongoing financial support for Brother Wolf, however, founder and president of BWAR Denise Bitz said one of the primary goals is inspiring “other people to think of ways they can volunteer to help get animals adopted in their own communities — whether that be through art, social media, or volunteering in person to help a particular animal.”
The dogs Alexander chooses to paint tend to be the ones most often overlooked at the shelter due to their age, color, breed, or others special circumstances, such as needing to be the only dog or having a health issue.
“These dogs really call me to tell their stories,” Angela Alexander said. “It’s a really sad thing for a dog to spend their life in a shelter, especially the older ones. I hope that this series will inspire people who are thinking about adopting to ask questions—to see which dogs have been there a long time. These dogs just need to be taken out into the yard, away from all the noise, and given a real chance.”
Of the dogs featured in Alexander’s paintings, Barley, Rascal, and Monte have all since been adopted; however Sharpie and Honey are still looking for their forever homes. Sharpie is featured in the piece “Ready to Fetch,” and is described at Brother Wolf as athletic, affectionate, and active. She is also quite smart, having mastered many tricks while at BWAR including sit, stay, down, go to bed, and wave.
The most recent subject of Alexander’s work is Honey, a sweet, older dog. Honey, along with 13 other pets, came to Brother Wolf after their rescuer in TN passed away from breast cancer. The woman asked that all her animals be sent to loving homes, and BWAR has nearly managed to fulfill her wish. “But Honey still remains as the last of the 14,” Bitz said. “Honey is a senior girl and there is something very special about her. You can see it in her eyes when you look at her. She just lays there in her kennel, patiently waiting for someone to come along. And to me, at times, I feel like she has given up on finding a home. And it breaks my heart.”
Alexander works to bring these stories to life in her paintings through her unique use of color and ability to connect to each dog’s story.
“The colors I use are meant to represent the animal’s energy. I look at their picture and kinda let them talk to me and go from there,” Alexander said. “It’s the eyes that really anchor the piece though. I think it’s most important to get that part right.”
And it appears Alexander does get it right.
“Angela seems to capture the very heart and soul of each animal every time she does a painting,” Bitz said. “Angela is not just an artist — she is a true animal lover who can see into their souls.”