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He Will Draw Your Dog
Artist turns hobby into fundraiser for shelters and rescues

At night, after his full-time job as a software test manager at Lockheed Martin, Paul Atzmiller makes pencil drawings of all types of animals, especially dogs. It’s been a hobby for 25 years. But in the last 11 years, that hobby turned into something more.

  “Way back in 1998-99, some of my co-workers saw my animal drawings in my module at work and asked if I would draw their dogs,” the Littleton, Colo., artist says. “After drawing about a dozen or so for free, I thought maybe I could make some money for local animal shelters by drawing dogs for donations. Thus, my ‘I Will Draw Your Dog’ fundraiser was born.”   It works like this: People take good quality photos of their dog’s face, send them to Atzmiller with the name of the shelter or group they want to support, and he creates a free, 9-by-12-inch, black-and-white, highly detailed pencil drawing. He sends the finished drawing and a donation form to the owners, and, in lieu of any personal payment, he requests they make a financial donation to the shelter/group they want to support.    It works on the honor system. There is no obligation to send a specific amount, or even to make a donation at all. And Atzmiller makes no effort to ensure a donation was sent. It’s not about policing behavior; it is about inspiring good works and good feelings.   It takes a little over a week to compete a drawing and he absorbs all material and mailing costs. “I really enjoy helping these wonderful groups and it gives me a great feeling to know that so many people who support these organizations think highly enough of my talent to pay money for my drawings,” he says.   He recently complete his 418th drawing and from what he knows, donations from his art have supported at least nine shelters and rescue groups, including the MaxFund, Golden Retriever Freedom Rescue, Golden Retriever Rescue of the Rockies (GRRR), Have Paws Will Travel, Colorado Humane Society, Rottweiler Rescue, Friends of Retired Greyhounds, Denver Dumb Friends League and National Canine Cancer Foundation.    He estimates he has raised more than $20,000 for these organizations, and even had one grateful dog owner donate $1,000 each to GRRR for two of his drawings.   Atzmiller hopes his fundraising concept will motivate other artistically inclined dog lovers to help their favorite dog group.   You can contact Paul Atzmiller by email at p.atzmiller@msn.com.

 

News: Guest Posts
Collecting Antique Dog Photos
Artistry and history—without the sticker shock of paintings.

People love collecting. Go to any garage sale, estate sale or antique show and you will see avid collectors carefully inspecting items in vendors’ booths on tables or in boxes. As antique shows gradually become a thing of the past, the Internet provides a major outlet for finding antiques and collectibles. It is especially helpful when what you collect is not common or easy to find.

  Collecting dog-related items has become increasingly popular during the past 10 or so years. Dog objects are fun items that dog lovers can use to personalize and decorate their spaces. The possibilities for collecting dog-related items are endless. Today, there are dealers who specialize in dog art, objects, books and photographs.   While many people collect specific breeds or specific items, my collection is eclectic and includes different breeds and media. It consists of wood, metal and dog figurines, prints, paintings and photographs, with photographs constituting the primary focus of my collection.   I have always loved old paintings of dogs but realized that most were beyond my budget. I started collecting photographs eight years ago when I found a framed photo of a Chihuahua sitting on a chair. I paid about $10 for it and my collection began. There weren’t many photos for sale at antique shows, so I was certain that it would take me years to build up a moderate collection. This pace would surely be better on my budget. I soon discovered E-Bay and an endless source for photos. My collection grew exponentially.   I was drawn to photographs for several reasons. First, as I mentioned, they are much easier on my budget than paintings. Second, they are more portable and ship easily and inexpensively. Third, I was intrigued by the fact that 100 or more years ago so many people cared about their dogs enough to have them photographed by a professional in a studio setting. Often the dog is seated or lying on a piece of furniture or in front of a fake backdrop of woods, water, mountains or a grand interior. I primarily collect photos with only a dog or dogs in them but occasionally I buy one with a person or people in them.   Within the field of photography there are many different types based on format and technology. Examples include daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, tintypes, cartes de visite (CDVs or visiting cards), cabinet cards, stereographs, albumen prints, dry plate, silver prints and real photo postcards.   Although I collect black and white photos that span between 1850 and 1950, I am partial to three types: CDVs, cabinet cards and photo post cards. CDVs were introduced in 1854 and were made until about 1905. They are albumen prints mounted on a 2 1/2-inch by 4-inch card. They are often printed or embossed with the photographer’s or studio name.   Cabinet cards were introduced in 1863 and were made until the early 1920s. They are made using a wet-plate negative on albumen paper that measures 4-inches by 5 1/2-inches and mounted on 4 1/4-inch x 6 1/2-inch mount. The size of the mount can vary for either type of photo. Both CDVs and cabinet cards were produced in photographer’s studios.   Photo postcards were first introduced in 1900 and remained popular through the 1940s. They are real photographs that are developed onto photo paper the size and weight of a postcard with a postcard back. Postcard photos were created by professionals and amateurs alike.

 

Care and Preservation Without proper care photos will not last. They need to be stored or displayed out of direct light in dry, temperate spaces. Learn more about collecting and caring for photographs at the International Museum of Photography in Rochester, N.Y., The American Museum of Photography (virtual museum) and Collector’s Guide to Early Photographs by O. Henry Mace.   Some museums, antique dealers and art galleries specialize in animal related items, far fewer specialize in dogs. Here are a few that do: William Secord Gallery, Genesee Country Village and Museum, AKC Museum of the Dog and The Cobblestore.

 

News: Guest Posts
I Made Food! I’m Magical!
The moving adventures of simple dog & helper dog

I have a million friends who love dogs and another million who know I love dogs. This is why my email and Facebook inboxes are constantly jammed with multi-forwarded messages featuring sentimental dog stories, links to THE funniest dog video ever, and multiple memory-sucking photos of costumed canines posed or Photoshopped next to everything from babies to ostrichs complete with silly captions. So my thumb was practically twitching over the delete button when friend after friend kept forwarding and sharing the same blog post, "Dogs Don't Understand Basic Concepts Like Moving." Finally, I gave in and read what is THE funniest dog-related blog post ever thanks to its belly-laugh inducing illustrations. The author-artist and her boyfriend attempt to move from Oregon to Montana without completely stressing out their two dogs. They are not entirely successful. Enjoy.

News: Guest Posts
Paper Master
Origami artist Eric Joisel dies at 53

Among the animals to inspire the French origami master, Eric Joisel, were dogs, such as the Greyhound pictured here. We were saddened to read of Joisel’s too-early death. Using only paper—no adhesive or scissors—Joisel modeled extremely detailed, animated figures of hedgehogs, seahorses, sprites, musicians and much more. You can almost imagine all those flat sheets of paper at his Argenteuil home sighing over the lost opportunity to come alive in his hands.

News: Guest Posts
Dog Days
Photos of canines that will make you drool

August is the season of culture-lite, when art institutions avoid demanding fare. But that doesn’t mean there’s not a lot of pleasure to be had in comedies performed on park lawns, or orchestras flouncing through Broadway standards, or gallery walls filled with, well, “approachable” subject matter. The current photography exhibit at Corden/Potts Gallery in San Francisco is just such a seasonal delight with double-bonus points for us dog lovers.

  “We wanted something lighthearted for summer,” says gallery co-owner Elizabeth Corden about Dog Days: An International Collection of Canine Images. “My business partner, Jan [Potts], has a small collection of dog photographs and a great interest in dogs and we kind of went from there and decided that being August, ‘dog days’ would be a good fit, even though it’s never hot in San Francisco.”   In selecting the 21 images by 15 photographers, they had a curatorial test. “As we were putting together the show, if it really made you go awwwwh, we couldn’t have it,” Corden says. “We wanted to avoid the calendar art clichés.”   They succeeded. From the dreamy images of Susan Burnstine, a Los Angeles based artist who makes her own cameras, to Aline Smithson’s hand-colored photographs of a woman with a dog a la Whistler's Mother (“she has a great sense of humor and a very patient mother,” Corden says), the photographs are moody, elegant, funny and astonishing—like our dogs. Among my favorites are two theatrical portraits by Vee Speers, an Australian living and working in Paris, and Dog by Italian Giacomo Brunelli, from his series, Animals.   Dog Days runs through Aug. 28 at Corden/Potts Gallery, 49 Geary Street, Suite 211, San Francisco (Tues.–Sat., 11 am to 5:30 pm). If you’re not lucky enough to be in the Bay Area, visit the website to see all the images in the show.

 

News: Guest Posts
Dog Art Wine Label Contest
Choose your favorite, voting ends May 25

What’s better than dogs and wine? Dogs and wine and art...as demonstrated by the folks at Mutt Lynch Winery in Sonoma, who artfully mix dogs and winemaking—with mutts on the premises, on the labels and in the mission. They strike again with their Second Annual Dog Art Today Dog Art Wine Label Contest, co-sponsored by Bark. Leaving it to you and me to help select from among 77 delightful works of art one destined for label immortality. Sort of American Idol meets Benji.

CLICK HERE to peruse all 77 entries and cast your vote! Voting ends Tuesday, May 25 at noon PST.

From among the 10 top finalists announced on Thursday, May 27, winemaker Brenda Lynch; Moira McLaughlin of Dog Art Today; and Rae Huestis, Mutt Lynch label designer, will select a winner to be featured on the label of a red called “Muttitage.” Only 500 bottles of the exclusive blend will be produced and released at Mutt Lynch’s Dog Days of Summer on August 14—with 10 percent of all sales proceeds going to the San Francisco SPCA.

News: Guest Posts
Celebrating Peter Urban
Bark contributor to be honored this weekend

This weekend the life and work of photographer Peter Urban will be celebrated in Boston (details below). Urban may be best known to Bark readers for his contributions to our pages, illustrating stories about working Beagles at Logan Airport, Border Collies on a Massachusetts farm, clicker-training pioneer Karen Pryor and more. He died last September at the age of 61.

  “Peter’s work always captured the hopeful, knowing side of people. His photographs always made the articles better, more insightful,” says Cameron Woo, Bark’s creative director.   A Boston-based photographer, Urban shot everything from revealing portraits to elegant architectural studies for newspapers, including The Boston Globe, magazines, and commercial and nonprofit clients. For us, of course, he added pups to the mix with delightful results, in part, because he was a dog guy.   In a recent email, Urban’s life partner, Steve McCarthy, shared a little slice of their life with dogs. He wrote: “When I met Peter we both had dogs. Mine was Sophie, a Golden Retriever, and Peter’s was Sammy, a Chow. The dogs got along famously and when we would play with them it was truly funny. Sophie was great at catching tennis balls, Sammy not so much. However, when he saw what Sophie was doing he would try his best to catch the balls, too. When we tossed it to him it usually bounced off his head. Peter would call Sammy over and make like he was going to throw the ball. Sammy would stand on his hind legs, mouth wide open. Peter would drop the ball into Sammy’s open mouth. That’s the only way he could catch the ball, but once he did he would run around with the ball in his mouth so proud that he had caught it.”   Friends and family honor Peter Urban’s memory and contributions this weekend with the Peter Urban Memorial Hall Dedication (Friday, May 14, 5:30-7:30 p.m.) and a retrospective exhibit (Saturday and Sunday, May 15-16, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.) at The Bates Art Center (731 Harrison Avenue, Boston).

 

News: Guest Posts
Beloved Artist Stephen Huneck Dies
Economy, depression may have fueled suicide

“The dog is a gentleman; I hope to go to his heaven, not man’s.”  -- Mark Twain
 
I have a rug by Stephen Huneck in my bedroom. It shows one dog pulling a boat, with other dogs inside it, through the water. It says “Friendship” and indicates that we can pull each other through anything.
 
Unfortunately, no one could pull Huneck through his recent tragedy. Sadly for all in the dog world, and non-dog people, too, celebrated dog artist Huneck, 60, of St. Johnsbury, Vt., took his own life early on Jan. 8. He had apparently been battling with depression for a long time. His wife cites the downfall in the economy as a factor, including the fact that Huneck had to let approximately half his employees go recently. It made the tragedy even worse in that he shot himself outside his psychiatrist's office, just a few feet from possible help.
 
Huneck’s talent was to depict everyday concepts using dogs as the players. His prints, rugs, notecards and furniture were sometimes straightforward, sometimes naughty and always witty. He warmed our hearts with prints such as “A Day at the Beach” and tickled us with those such as “Menage Trois.” He had a great understanding of modern culture and of the dog mind, too.
 
Huneck was no stranger to the concept of death, opening the acclaimed Dog Chapel for people to come remember their pets who had passed. Huneck also credited his choice to pursue his artwork to a near-death-experience years ago.
 
I feel certain Huneck has gone to his concept of Dog Heaven, “Welcome all creeds, all breeds. No dogmas allowed,” as it says at the Dog Chapel. He must also wear the golden wings he so often depicted in his prints. And now he has inspiration for more “heavenly” subjects, such as dogs chasing a dogcatcher ’round the Elysian Fields.

News: Guest Posts
Draw The Dog
A worthy web destination for dog lovers.

I love dogs—that’s obvious. And I love cartoons. I honestly believe these are two of the sublime pleasures in life. So the day I discovered Draw the Dog counts as a banner day. The website is a collection of cartoons drawn daily by ex-Disney animator Jim George. The old school drawings are animated, and appear on the screen as if they are being drawn in the moment. You see Buzz, a running dog; then, a leash appears in his mouth (oh no!); then, a forlorn, jogging-suited person scrambles after him—as the landscape of a park fills in around the ill-fated pair. Sigh. I’ve been there. 


So has the real Buzz in Baton Rouge, La., on whom the cartoon is based. This is one of the other wonderful aspects of the site—most of the cartoons are based on the for-real adventures of actual pups. George invites guardians to send in their true stories as inspiration for images. (Details here.) If your story inspires a cartoon, your pooch will be credited appropriately for digging through the garbage, peeing in your lap, playing tug-of-war with the towel on your head. You’ll be so proud.

News: Guest Posts
Bark Reader Wins
Twitter portrait contest yields good art and good works.

Back in July, JoAnna Lou let us know about a southern California dog portrait artist named Aimée Hoover, who connects with friends and admirers as DogArteest on Twitter. Inspired by the 140-character limit on that social networking service, she thought she’d try creating portraits in 140 minutes. (By contrast, her commissioned portraits can take between 25 to 40 hours.) When she tweeted a call for photos, her experiment became a contest with a free portrait as the prize.

We were happy to spread the word, and among those who read Lou’s blog was Diane Houghtaling, aka Louisebear2 on Twitter. Houghtaling promptly entered the contest with an image of her senior rescued Pit Bull-mix Bud, and then went on to win. Yeah! (It’s been a big year for Bud. He and his “sister” were among the Smilers in the Sept/Oct 2009 issue of Bark.) Feeling a little responsible for Bud’s victory, we had to see the winning photo—too handsome really!—and then, more obviously, the resulting portrait—seriously lovely. (Experience the portrait’s arrival.)

Hoover’s only request of winners is that they pay it forward—somehow do some good for somebody else. Houghtaling is already a volunteer for her local SPCA and volunteers weekly with a Puppy Mill Awareness group (NPPMWatch) in her community. For her “official Pay It Forward,” she made a donation to Dogs Deserve Better.

 

The contest continues in December--what are you waiting for?

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