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HOORAY for NATIONAL DOG DAY! Let's give our incredible companions the appreciation they deserve today...and every day! From amazing service pups who can offer the disabled freedom, to canine police partners who put their lives on the line, to the drooling furry mass that melts into your couch cushions, dogs touch the lives of their humans in amazing ways. Give your pup some extra love and thanks today, and consider opening your heart and home to a furry sweet soul in need of the joy and comfort of a devoted family.
As I type this entry I'm listening to the precious little breaths of slumber coming from my fur-kid Molly on the other side of my desk, and thinking about all the amazing things she has inspired me to do. I started photographing her the day my husband and I brought her home as a tiny pup, almost eight years ago. Working together I learned to get the shot quicker and just let her do her thing, and she learned to be patient with me when it took extra tries to get everything just right (although I did catch some of her exasperated eye rolls on film, haha). Some of the fun photos turned into holiday cards for our friends and family over the years, and then Molly and I decided we wanted to give dogs who weren't fortunate enough to have loving families some of the spotlight.
So, I began photographing shelter animals and learning their stories (many of which were heartbreaking), and working them into original creative designs for greetings of all sorts of occasions. I wanted to present homeless pups in a fun, entertaining way that would help draw positive attention to the plight of shelter animals. When I had enough artwork compiled, Bark Remarks™ "doggone funny greetings for a great cause" were launched with the very special mission of featuring and giving back to dogs in need. On the back of each greeting, the recipient gets a personal note from the star on the front thanking them for their support, and letting them know a donation is being made that makes their tail wag. The Bark Remarks™ collection is currently available on my website and in six locations in MD and PA, and I strive to continue growing their reach.
With the success of Bark Remarks™ greetings, I was asked if I could come up with a solo art exhibit complementary to the theme and mission of the cards. My mind was whirling with ideas because I am passionate about the subject matter, and I poured myself into creating every design from scratch (just like the cards)- from photographing rescues and other special pups, to illustration, to graphic design to the words that flowed from my heart. "Something to Bark About," a colorful exhibit of 12 poignant designs, welcomed dogs into the gallery opening night, sparked a community-wide celebration of four-legged friends, raised awareness for shelter dogs in need of forever families and amassed a kind donation for them from patrons and sales of my artwork.
Large framed posters of the artwork can now be seen coloring the walls of Toby the Golden Hero Gifts, a special store with a pay-it-forward motto, established by Debra Parkhurst, who's life was saved by Toby, the Golden Retriever she rescued. The artwork flows into her second shop next door, Fred's Too, lovingly named for Toby's beagle side-kick. Artwork from the "Something to Bark About" collection is available for sale in a variety of sizes from greeting cards to matted and signed prints to oversized posters. I aim to expand the reach of this collection as well, so it's message can be enjoyed by many and it can continue to give back.
We celebrate National Dog Day at the studio today, and every day! I'll close with a quote I had written while working on my art exhibit and reflecting on the love and inspiration so many precious pups have blessed me with:
"May all the dogs I've ever loved leave their pawprints on my heart,
their virtues in my soul and their fur on my pants."
-Jessica St. Clair
• Visit the Bark Remarks™ card shop online: http://www.jessicastclairstudio.com/barkremarks
• Visit the "Something to Bark About" collection: http://www.jessicastclairstudio.com/dogs-inspirational
• Visit Toby the Golden Hero Gifts and Fred's Too at 114 S. Main St. North East, MD 21901
• Read about Bark Remarks™ greetings and "Something to Bark About" art exhibit in the news: http://www.jessicastclairstudio.com/in-the-news