On Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, I picked up my beautiful 8 x 10 painting of our cat Cannoli, created by Michele C. Wayland. There’s a story behind this, of course, and you’re about to hear it.
For ten years Michele served as the executive director of the Arkansas Valley Humane Society located in my hometown of Buena Vista. It’s where we adopted our last two cats, Cannoli and Chula. In fact, the day I first spotted Chula in the kitten room, she (Chula) was guarding the food bowl. She seemed outgoing and forthcoming. So I asked Jim to come and take a look at her. When he and I returned to check her out together, Michele’s husband was standing in the kitten room. Chula ran up his blue-jeaned leg like a tree. He’s a tall guy and she (Chula) was about 4 months old. From her feisty attitude, I knew she was the cat for us. About 10 years before that, I had adopted Cannoli from the shelter, which would have been about the time Michele took over as executive director.
Later I learned that Michele was an artist. We did some craft fairs together. Jim and I were showing pottery and photography. Michele was showing her barbed wire horse sculptures. Eventually I discovered Michele’s painting skills. One of my horse riding neighbors told me about the murals Michele had painted on people’s interior home walls. I put 2+2 together when I was in a friend’s home decorated with a grape vine motif painted around the kitchen ceiling and down the walls. Michele and I became friends because we kept running into each other at art and animal events . . . and the post office.
I have been a supporter of animal rescue, especially cats, in the Arkansas Valley. When I received Michele’s email on September 14, I was drawn to her recent campaign. Michele wrote:
If you’ve ever thought about getting a portrait painted of your special friend but thought you couldn’t afford it, here’s your chance and it also supports a great cause! I am the new President of Cats Alive!slv , a group dedicated to addressing feral and stray cat populations in the San Luis Valley (SLV) through an aggressive spay/neuter program, providing low-cost services to those in dire need. From now until September 22nd, when you give $10 or more to the cause, you’ll be entered for a drawing to receive an acrylic painting of your special pet(s) from me!
I entered the drawing, donated some money for the spay/neuter program, and was the lucky winner. I decided to have Michele paint a picture of our older kitty Cannoli.
And here is the 8×10 portrait that Michele created as a composite of a couple of photos we gave her.
Michele reported that the contest brought in enough funds to spay and neuter 52 cats!
There’s a bit more to the story. When Michele left her position as executive director of the Arkansas Valley Humane Society, she took a giant leap of faith to do what she’s been wanting to do for a long time: Art.
Her new website MCW Creations, reflects the variety of work that she produces: fine art commissions, murals (such as the walls of my friend’s kitchen and bath), pet portraits, and other creative projects. She is a horse trainer, too, and some of her artwork relates to horses.
I want to wish my friend Michele the best of luck in her new pursuits. Bravo!