Artist Elizabeth Ellis is making 2015 a year of second chances—for herself and for rescue animals across the country.
Every week, in what she calls The Year of 52 Rescues, Ellis paints a watercolor portrait of an adoptable animal currently in a shelter. In January of 2016, the paintings will be displayed in an exhibit at Dreaming Tree Galleries in Grove City, Ohio, and then donated to her subjects’ owners, whoever they might be at that point.
“I’ve been searching online for all sorts of pet rescues across the country and trying to find some of the less easily adoptable animals: the one-eyed, one-legged and seniors that often get overlooked,” said Ellis. “My goal is to make them a little bit more adoptable by spreading the word and saying, ‘This is a beautiful animal, take it home and love it, and have this wonderful portrait that you can keep as a memory.’”
Ellis, 30, grew up in Ohio with a series of rescue cats and two rescue horses, and has always been a vocal advocate for adoption. Now she lives in Lancaster, Ohio with her rescue poodle Claire. Though she doesn’t ride herself, she loves spending time with her mother’s Arab rescues.
“I’m just trying to raise awareness for pet adoption, instead of ‘shopping’ for pets,” said Ellis of her project. “I come from a rescue family and it’s something I’m really passionate about.”
She attended college at Kent State University in Ohio, where she studied fine arts and communications. Now she’s back in school working toward a degree in health information management. “That’s why I’m only doing 52 [paintings]; otherwise, I would definitely do a lot more!” she said.
Searching for a new project to give her direction after her divorce in June, Ellis decided to combine her passion for the cause with another passion: painting.
“It kind of caused me to reevaluate just about everything in my life, my goals and sort of where I was,” said Ellis. “So I evaluated my skills set and tried to come up with a way that the world could be just a little bit nicer because I’m here.”
In addition to her portraits, Ellis writes and illustrates haiku poems about all sorts of animals, which she posts on her Facebook and Twitter pages. She plans on creating a calendar of her work at the end of the year to sell and raise funds for animal shelters across the U.S.
The Chronicle will continue to follow the Year of 52 Rescues throughout the year, posting Ellis’ weekly portraits with a short blurb about the featured pet on our Facebook page. And make sure to look out for a fantastic gallery and in-depth story on Ellis’ project in the Dec. 21 Holiday Issue of The Chronicle of the Horse magazine.
You can visit Ellis’ website here.