One Artist Is Painting 5,500 Shelter Dogs–But Why?

Painting can take a lifetime to master, but this artist is dedicating years to painting shelter dogs. Mark Barone, working out of his Louisville studio, aims to paint 5,500 shelter dogs. That is the number of dogs destroyed every day in U.S. shelters.

The artist expressed that it’s important to feel the subject matter. “I don’t think you can say anything as an artist unless you feel it,” he said.

His goal in painting these dogs is to put the soul back into animals that the world has lost. These dogs weren’t given a chance at love and life, and this artist, and his choice to paint them, honor the dogs.

“A camera can’t give an image soul,” he said, “but an artist can.”

Barone also said that he wants people to feel as though these dogs are with them when they look at his renderings of them. He thinks it’s important that people walk away from viewing the paintings with wanting to do the right thing.

His paintings are not always small, either. They take up large space on huge canvasses, in the same way, that dogs can take up a big space in peoples’ hearts. Others, though still as significant, take place on smaller canvasses.

One large painting featured Batman, a 10-year-old senior dog. The shelter had left Batman outside, and he had frozen to death.

When he had started the project of painting all 5,500 dogs, he had no idea how taxing it can be. Any project doesn’t seem so bad when it hasn’t begun, but this sort of task can be difficult in multiple ways. It’s not just about the work that goes into each painting, but also the emotional strain of knowing how many dogs suffer. His paintings are raw and force you to see the emotion in each of them.

He worries if enough people care and if what he does will make a difference. He hopes that people will look at the exhibition and engage themselves in making a difference for these animals.

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