Painting with paws

Students create watercolor paintings of animals from local shelters

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Painting with paws

Students' watercolor projects are located in a display case at Killough.

Students' watercolor projects are located in a display case at Killough.

Jannelle Everett

Students' watercolor projects are located in a display case at Killough.

Jannelle Everett

Jannelle Everett

Students' watercolor projects are located in a display case at Killough.

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As students dip their paint brushes into buckets of dirty water, brushing reds and blues onto blank pages, their furry inspirations are miles away, crying in cages waiting to be taken to their forever homes. Art teachers Peri Berman and Erin Webb partnered up with Humane Society of North Texas, SPCA of Dallas and Lewisville Animal Shelter to provide students opportunities to paint animals available for adoption. 

The teachers gave students creative freedom, allowing them to pick their animals and paint them in any styles they chose. Paintings ranged from a normal color scheme to rainbow fur. The project was chosen as the classes’ community outreach for the semester. The students would watercolor animals from shelters, and then Webb and Berman would deliver the finished product for the shelter to display.

“[The paintings] were supposed to be an incentive for people to adopt the animals,” Berman said. “It was supposed to be like ‘Hey, this animal hasn’t been adopted, [they’ve] been here for a while and it comes with a free painting.’”

This project has opened up many students’ eyes about shelters, which was one of the art teachers’ goals. Students allowed themselves to help the community and learn about the hard truth of animals being on the streets and needing homes. This project inspired students to volunteer at their local shelters and help these furry friends.

“I mean I’ve always had a heart for animals,” sophomore Gabrielle Rabon said “I just feel like there’s so many beautiful animals in the shelter and it’s just like ‘I really need to help them out.’”

After the project, numerous animals were either shipped to a shelter in Florida and adopted there or adopted in Lewisville. Even the ones who stayed received extra help from the volunteers at the shelter.

It’s taking the animals off the street but also putting them in good homes. It’s building a better community for our furry friends and getting involvement in general.”

— art teacher Erin Webb

“A lot of people don’t think that shelters are a [big] part of the community, but [they are],” Webb said. “It’s taking the animals off the street but also putting them in good homes. It’s building a better community for our furry friends and getting involvement in general.”

The shelter benefited from the project in ways the workers didn’t expect. With the help of the project, the portraits help the shelters’ animals be adopted now and in the future. The shelters won’t stop until they manage to place each animal into a safe home with people who care.

“Having the animals’ pictures going out into the homes and being viewed by so many people helps us to get the word out that we have wonderful pets available for adoption,” animal shelter and Humane Society of North Texas worker Stacy Britton said.

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