Welcome to another Rewind Wednesday, where we re-visit one of our favourite archived posts. This week, I’m also participating in Gayle’s Pet Parade over at Planet M Files. It’s a Rewind Wednesday & Pet Parade double feature :-)
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As I’ve mentioned before, we have three dogs — Kylie the Siberian Husky, Squirt the Black Lab, and Jackson the Catahoula Leopard Dog. We also had the most amazing dog for a couple of years, Carbo the mutt. He was the sweetest dog, and had the most amazing doggie ears ever…
All our dogs are rescues — Kylie from owners who couldn’t keep her anymore, Squirt from the Ottawa Humane Society, and Jackson from Catahoula Rescue. Carbo came to us from my brother and sister-in-law (they adopted him from a shelter in Pittsburgh).
I’m a big supporter of adopting shelter animals. Which is one reason why one of my favourite artists is Ron Burns. He paints amazingly colorful pictures of dogs and cats, and most of his models are shelter animals. Ron also does a huge amount of work to help abandoned pets, and donates a portion of proceeds from his paintings to shelters. He’s also the Artist in Residence for the Humane Society of the United States.
This was originally a Hooked on Fridays, post, because I’m hooked on Ron Burns…
She gave me two of Ron’s prints, Toby and Squirt. They were all framed up and ready to go. I hung them above the fireplace, which is straight ahead of you when you walk in the front door of our house. I think they’re the perfect welcome to friends who come to visit — although our own dogs do a pretty good job of rolling out the welcome mat themselves!! :-)
Don’t you love their big eyes and the bright colours?? :-) They have so much character and personality. Read on to find out what inspires Ron to create his wonderful paintings…
It all began with Rufus…
In Ron’s words… Once upon a sunny day, I found a dog abandoned on a lonely Sedona ranch. This dog was a playful puppy that saw me and instantly knew he could realize his life’s purpose – to inspire and ultimately save me. My wife Buff and I had never shared our lives with a male dog before, but this goofy dufus easily won us over and we called him Rufus.
While secluded in our Sedona get-away, I was surrounded by traditional Southwest inspiration, but nothing filled my heart. Until that is… I looked down at my sweet new puppy Rufus. As I looked down at him, I thought, “If I can transform onto canvas the feeling I get from looking into the eyes of this pup, I think I may have something.” It turns out that I did find something special that day, and I’ve been doing it ever since.
And so began Ron’s passion — painting dogs (and cats too).
Ron created his first painting of Rufus about 18 years ago. Then he started painting dogs and cats that he found at animal shelters. Ron is a huge supporter of shelter animals. He has contributed his time and talent, as well as a portion of sales from all his paintings to help shelter animals. He’s the Artist in Residence for the The Humane Society of the United States, and recently painted a series of murals at the new Humane Society of Silicon Valley…
How cute is this guy with the dribbling tongue?!
I was thrilled and honoured when Ron agreed to do an interview with me. It’s given me the chance to learn more about Ron, and to introduce him and his fantastic artwork to you…
Your paintings are so vibrant and colourful. Do you have a favourite colour and why is it your favourite?
I don’t have a favorite color. However, I use red a lot as an undercoat because it allows me to push or pull other colors that I lay on top. It also vibrates with almost every other color I use.
How has your style evolved over the course of your painting career?
I painted with looser brush strokes in the very beginning days. Now I paint with a combination of different brush strokes.
I start every painting with the eyes then I let the model “tell” me how they’d like to be painted.
That’s what really strikes me about your paintings, the eyes. How do you manage to capture such wonderfully expressive eyes?
The eyes are the windows to the soul. Every animal tells me who they are and how they see themselves on canvas.
How do you decide what colours to use in each painting? Does the subject of your painting inspire the colours?
The subject definitely inspires the colors. Very calm dogs are painted in more soothing colors like yellows, whereas a very active puppy will inspire blues and purples.
Ollie was a shelter puppy that caught my eye and heart. He has the “every” puppy essence that we can all relate to regardless of breed or age of a dog.I don’t want to pressure you by asking which painting is your favourite. But is there one painting that stands out to you as being extra-special for some reason? Maybe because it was easiest to capture the animal’s personality, or you felt a special connection with the animal in the painting?
Rufus as a puppy is my favorite painting because he was my special buddy for almost 15 years. My wife, Buff, likes to tell the story about the time I told a local TV journalist that Rufus was “the love of my life”. :-)
Do you have any of your own paintings hanging in your home?
We have about a dozen of my paintings that are either our “kids” or they are paintings that I enjoy and am not ready to sell.
We have a bylaw in Ottawa limiting residents to a maximum of three dogs. Otherwise, I’d probably have more than the three dogs that I have now!! How do you stop yourself from adopting every dog and cat you meet!?
That’s the million dollar question. At the moment we have two dogs because that’s what we can manage in a city. When we lived in the country in Sedona, AZ we had 3 dogs and 2 cats. If we move to the country again we’ll have more animals.
Our dogs. . . Kylie, Squirt, Jackson, and Carbo (MIss you Lots, little Man…)
All our dogs are rescues. I really believe that adopted pets make the best pets because they know how lucky they are that they’ve been given a new opportunity to have a loving home. Do you feel that way too?
Absolutely. Our newest addition, Emma, took about a year to turn into a softy. She had lived in a back yard for the first two years of her life and she became very independent. I think she eventually realized that somebody finally had her back and she could relax.
Brownie was the name of my first dog. Unfortunately, my parents thought animals should live outside so I had to wait until I was an adult to have furry family members living in the house and sleeping on the bed where they belong.
You’re a busy guy, travelling around the country to participate in different events in support of animal shelters and animal welfare. What’s your favourite way to relax when you’re at home? Favourite movie? Favourite food? Favourite drink?
When I’m home, I prefer to nest with my wife and dogs. In the winter we fix dinner together and put it on trays and eat in bed with the fireplace on. When the weather is warmer we sit outside for long leisurely dinners. No favorite food or movie but we lived in Napa for a few years and I love wine.
I want every dog and cat to have a forever home and never worry about euthanasia again.
Where is the most interesting place that one of your paintings is hanging? What’s the farthest from the US that you’ve sent one of your pieces of work?
I think it’s probably in Morocco. The Princess of Morocco (who is married to the King but isn’t referred to as the Queen) bought several paintings.
There are lots of ways to help. Most shelters have web sites and usually have a page that lists items that the shelter needs. For example: old towels and blankets to used computers. Helping to organize a fundraiser is always beneficial. It can be a simple dog walk or a black tie dinner. We have a special page on our website just for shelters that a volunteer can check out and get ideas on how to help their local shelter. http://www.ronburns.com/philanthropy/requestsupport/index.html
One last question… I love water and swimming. If I was an animal, I would definitely be a dolphin. What animal would you be and why?
I’d be an ugly dog. That way you’d know who your real friends were. (Don’t you love that answer?!)
I know Ron is really busy, so I truly appreciate that he took the time to do this interview with me. Thanks Ron!!
So are you hooked on Ron Burns now?? :-)
If you’d like to learn more about Ron and see more of his animal paintings, here are a few web sites to check out:
If you’re thinking of getting a cat or dog, adopt a shelter animal!!
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