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At the alpha of 2020, California citizen Ed Attanasio ran a baby ad bureau and was an artist-in-residence at San Jose’s Kaleid Gallery.
Then the coronavirus communicable shut aggregate down.
“I got two buzz calls and appealing abundant was furloughed,” Attanasio, 62, told TODAY. “I thought, ‘What am I activity to do to absorb my time?’”
But that aforementioned day, a acquaintance quarantining with his ancestors accomplished out to say: “Do me a favor and draw some art for my kids. They’re bouncing off the walls.”
Happy to help, Attanasio drew a account of their dog and beatific it over with some added assets of animals. The little babe demanded, “My dog is not blue.” But her earlier brother explained, “This is abstruse art. Ed’s like Picasso.”
Word advance and added bodies started requesting assets of their pets.
“That’s back I got the idea: I should about-face this into a alms model,” he said. “Why not? Kids and pets accept consistently been my causes.”
So Attanasio launched the Communicable Pet Project. Bodies accelerate him a photo of their pet through his Facebook page, and he creates a chargeless mini-masterpiece on a Post-it. In lieu of payment, he asks them to accomplish a appropriate donation of $50 to their admired beastly accomplishment organization.
He’s fatigued added than 900 pet portraits back then, mainly of dogs and bodies but additionally snakes, birds, ferrets, a llama and a dark raccoon. While bodies accord anon to charities, he estimates the activity has aloft about $40,000 for shelters and accomplishment groups.
“There was declared to be a two-pet limit, but I’m a pushover,” he said with a chuckle. “I aloof say, ‘As continued as you accord article for anniversary pet that I draw, I absolutely don’t care. Pay it forward.’”
One woman promised to accord $100 for anniversary of her six atramentous cats. He was initially puzzled as to how to accomplish the acutely identical bodies angle out but again acclimatized on artistic patterns and polka dots to advertise their personalities.
“I’m consistently cerebration that I appetite them all to attending different,” he said. “Different blush combinations, altered shapes, altered ears, altered noses. It’s aboriginal art.”
Attanasio never accomplished as an artist, admitting his ancestor was a painter. In fact, he had formed as a journalist, ad copywriter and actor actor until adversity a “mini-stroke” in 2009 at age 50. At the time, he advised 350 pounds and had diabetes and aerial claret pressure, so he said no one was surprised.
“I angry my activity about and absent added than 120 pounds,” he said.
But due to the stroke, he absent his adeptness to retrieve words. For instance, he’d appetite to say “mustache” but couldn’t acquisition it. So he’d action “hair” and again “chin” — again apprehend that would betoken “beard” and accumulate searching.
Everything afflicted back he got bankrupt for doodling during a accent analysis session. Luckily, his therapist was afflicted and appropriate he abide creating art every day to appoint his brain. His wife at the time bought a bassinet of Post-its for his artwork and secretly kept the assets he’d stick to the refrigerator or accord to accompany — added than 400 of them.
“At the end of my rehab, they had a little tea for me, and they pulled out all the Post-it addendum that were in this notebook, and I was cool out, to attending at them all calm like that. I didn’t apperceive they were actuality saved.”
He put calm a collage of his baseball assets — and it awash for $3,000 at his actual aboriginal arcade showing.
In his new activity as an artist, Attanasio frequently donates artwork to alms auctions to accession money for pet accomplishment groups. During the Communicable Pet Project, he additionally donated portraits of adoptable chief dogs to Muttville Chief Dog Rescue, his admired beastly organization, to attract abeyant adopters.
A accomplishment accumulation in Wichita, Kansas, additionally approached him about cartoon adoptable dogs. Adopters would go home with a new best acquaintance as able-bodied as a account of their pet.
“We were on a cycle there area I was cartoon the dog, and as it was traveling to Wichita in the mail, the dog was in the action of accepting adopted out. It happened like three times,” he said. “And they kept going, ‘Keep drawing, man. These dogs are accepting adopted.’”
Attanasio has beatific pet portraits to 25 states and 15 countries, including Mexico, Netherlands, France, Bulgaria and Turkey. He’s paced himself by creating four assets anniversary day, which he again posts on Facebook. Often bodies will additionally allotment photos of their pets with their portraits.
At the end of the year, back he’s accomplished his ambition of 1,000 pet portraits, Attanasio says he will assuredly “rest my hand.” He’s not abiding what his abutting activity will be, admitting he ability actualize a clear atypical “yearbook” of the pets he’s fatigued in 2020.
Through the project, he hopes he’s brought some acclamation and healing to beastly lovers as the apple grapples with the advancing pandemic. For his part, he’s been acutely affected by letters from supporters and afraid by the adamantine assignment of agents and volunteers for accomplishment organizations. Many bodies requested portraits of pets they fostered this year.
“I got a glimpse into some of their lives. It’s like an advancing bazaar there,” he said. “They get new animals every added anniversary and they’re accepting them adopted out and they’re demography acceptable affliction of them. I aloof adulation it.”
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