The 2009 Paws for Charity Art Book, an incredible compilation of artwork and photographs submitted by thirty-seven artists from the US, UK and Canada, was brought to life by the talented, driven and creative Sara Harley.
At the age of twenty-one, Sara lost her mother to breast cancer. She has had two scares herself, the most recent in August; both times lumps were removed and thankfully they were both benign. So, it’s not surprising that in 2006, Sara and three other women who owned dog businesses and wanted to raise money for breast cancer charity founded Paws For Charity which is not a charitable organization.
“Paws For Charity was created because 3 of the 4 founders, myself, Julie from Chilly Dogs, and Char from Around The Hounds were all selling products to raise funds for breast cancer,” said Sara. “We thought that creating a group would have more impact and raise more awareness. The fourth founder, Sue, the Urban Dog Photog, looked after all our photography needs. She took the photos for my "Crunch for a Cure" dog biscuit packages using breast cancer survivors and their dogs, and also created some fund raising calendars.”
Then, in 2008, Sara sold her dog biscuit company and decided to focus some of her time on Paws For Charity. Last Christmas, when Sara gave out a couple of photo books as gifts, she thought a photo book might be a good idea for a fundraiser. While working with the three other women in 2006, Sara had discovered that there is a great synergy created when several people work on one project. So, she went to work from her home in rural Nova Scotia, and sent out invitations to artists and photographers she found through various searches. During her search phase, she discovered the "Photographers of Etsy" blog, and sent an email to one of the blog administrators. Gigi Leonard was enthusiastic, and had someone write up an article about the project to invite POE members to send in submissions.
One of the people who saw the Photographers of Etsy post and immediately responded was our very own Thursday Sweet Treat participant and fantastic photographer, Michelle Ciarlo-Hayes, creator of mkc photography.
“They mentioned Sara was seeking submissions of visual art that featured dogs and cats,” remembers Michelle. “We artists would donate our work, and Sara would do all the hard work of actually putting the book together, lol! I was so moved by the fact that she lost her mom at such an early age to breast cancer: I lost one cousin to this disease and watched two aunts battle back into remission...we are all affected, in some way, by breast cancer. Sara has given us a way to raise awareness - and funds - in a positive, uplifting, endearing way.”
Right away, Michelle thought of two portraits she’d taken of her dogs: one of her sweet old dog's grey-whiskered nose, and the second of her crazy young dog's sandy paws captured during a winter walk at the beach. Michelle was over the moon when Sara chose the latter photo to be the cover of the book.
“Originally, I had planned to create a cover image using snippets from all of the submissions in the book. But when I received Michelle's photograph "Sandy Paws", I knew it would be a perfect photo image for our "Paws for Charity" Art Book,” said Sara.
One of the greatest challenges Sara faced when putting the book together was choosing what to include. In an effort to create a balanced book, she chose photographs and artwork of dogs and cats as well as scenic images and portraits.
“The range of images Sara has chosen are perfect,” said Michelle. “Some make us laugh, some are thoughtful, some are truly endearing. I think she's done a masterful job of compiling 37 viewpoints into one sweet book.”
"Vanessa and Be" by Cameron Graves Hayden.
I have a bear. His name is 'Be'. I received Be when I was first diagnosed with cancer two and a half years ago. Be has provided me with great comfort and strength ever since. I named him Be to represent everything I want to be... be happy, be healthy, be loving, be generous. Whenever I feel upset, angry or sad, I look to Be to remind me of everything positive in the world and everything I want to be; ultimately Be represents love. Be also reminds me to live in the moment, to Be. I don't know how much longer I have in this life but every moment will count and will be cherished. Be is my constant companion. He comes with me to all of my chemo appointments, anytime I am in the hospital and of course to bed with me. If I ever wake up in the middle of the night, his sweet, comforting face is there to greet me. Be also represents the love I have in my heart for those I cherish most. Bears know where their hearts are and will always remind you of where yours is.
Over the course of the next few months, Sara will be featuring each artist and their image on the Paws For Charity blog. Please visit http://pawsforcharity.blogspot.com/ to meet reading inspiring stories about these artists.
"The Passage", by Kelly Snelling. Kelly's full profile is here:
“Kelly has just celebrated a wonderful anniversary...two years of being free from breast cancer,” said Sara. “In her own words, "Cancer is an upside down blessing in that I surely have learned to value what I have instead of feeling as if I were missing out on anything...ever."”
Does this book not touch the very core of you? I think it is positively incredible. I think everyone should have a copy or give a copy to someone special in their life. And just think, your purchase not only brightens someone life, it helps to support early detection, treatment, and research for a cure. Just think about how many people you are helping with one book! Could there be anything better?
For a preview or to purchase the book, please visit:
For more information about the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade, please visit:
For truly wonderful, inspiring reading and a place to leave a little love, please visit:
Dream Big blog: http://sharleystudio.blogspot.com/
Paws for Charity blog: http://pawsforcharity.blogspot.com/
To celebrate and congratulate Michelle, please visit:
I am so honored to have been able to feature this book here. Thank you Sara, Michelle and all the artists involved for creating such a beautiful book that gives back so much to everyone!
To all who are reading, I urge you to pass this on and on and on or blog about it. This is such an unforgettable project for such an important cause! Share, share, share, you never know who you might help!