While several people suggested painting a Koala and using it to raise money to help the rescue and relief efforts down under, it was Marilia's original suggestion that was my catalyst. Marilia is one of my favourite souls who works at the main post office in Fort McMurray. We became fast friends after many visits in the years leading up to our departure from the community. She is such a kind soul and her suggestion to paint a koala really resonated with me.
I'm not going to lie, this was a tough painting. Not only was its creation connecting to the suffering of hundreds of millions of animals, it was artistically challenging. It is rare that I am not comfortable enough to share photographs of the progress shots of this project. I really struggled with the background and almost reached the frustration point of painting over the canvas and starting from scratch. One final change of adding a mix of acrylic medium and white to the background and this is the painting that emerged. One small adjustment, one very big difference.
I posted this picture last night, asking people to share it to help spread the word that we were going to raise some money with it. I put all my devices away and woke up this morning to find that the post had been shared many times and had reached almost 10,000 people. There were some awesome suggestions of what we could do to help.
With those wonderful suggestions in mind, here is what we are going to do.
The original painting (20" x 20", acrylic on gallery canvas) will be auctioned off on the Russell Thomas Art Facebook Page today. It will be a regular sale with gst and shipping (if required) added to the final total; all sale proceeds will donated by us personally to a Koala rescue organization. A suggestion has been made that the Koala Hospital would be a great recipient. We have started the auction at $500 as we had two bids that were offered overnight in that range. The auction will close at 9 pm MST tonight (January 8).
We will also help our friends in Australia by offering 16" x 16" gallery canvas prints for $200 each (+ gst). That price will include free shipping to anywhere in Canada and an upgrade to an EP (Embellished Print). For each print sold, we will personally donate $25 to the Australian Red Cross to support their epic relief efforts. If you want to order a print, you can email email@example.com or send me a DM at the Russell Thomas Art Facebook page.
Having experienced the devastating wildfire in Fort McMurray in 2016, we have a sense of what Australia is going through right now. The help that was offered from people around the world lifted up our spirits and made us feel embraced in a way that is difficult to describe. Every effort, large and small, is going to make a difference for the people and animals down south. Thank you for caring, sharing and giving.