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Painting with Purpose

Where Are You Going my Little One - Acrylic on upholstery by Alisha K. Ard
I mentioned previously that, should I ever win the lottery, I would purchase one of every item in an art supply store. I would also own a library, comparable to the one the Beast gives Belle, and finally realize my life dream of being a philanthropist. (Dream BIG, right?) Unfortunately, this would require me to actually play the lottery. So, the best I have to offer right now are words of encouragement, clothing donations to shelters, a couple of hours here and there of my time volunteering, and donations I can make with my art.



The most rewarding pieces I create are those that give back to causes I believe in, such as the painted chair pictured with this post. This piece was created a few years ago for a charity auction fundraiser to help raise money to buy beds for children. I had so much fun coming up with the concept for the design and then painting this piece. The title, “Where Are You Going my Little One” is a line from the song “Turn Around” my grandmother used to sing to me. She learned the song from a Kodak commercial — fair warning, have tissues handy, especially if you’ve ever played a role in raising a child yourself. While I viewed this as an inspirational song as a child (you’ll be a grown-up before you know it!), the lyrics definitely resonate differently when you are on the parent end of them. The shoes and the footprints painted on the chair are those of my daughter, who is, indeed, growing up fast.

Duckling Shoes - Acrylic on Postcard
I have also participated in the last two Twitter Art Exhibits and plan to do so each year going forward. If you are an artist, I highly recommend participating. With a donation of a painting on a postcard, you help raise funds for the charity being sponsored that particular year. While it’s certainly fun to follow along on Twitter and see the amazing variety of works submitted, it is truly inspirational to see what can happen when so many artists from around the world unite to contribute for a cause.

Obviously, I cannot donate all of my art to fundraisers because:

1.) I’m raising my 16 year old and 11 year old. (Food, food, clothes; food, food, clothes… No one warned me how much food and clothes kids need when they are growing! Oh, and then there’s college…)

2.) I need money to buy more art supplies. (It’s a vicious cycle.)

So, I decided last year that I would donate a portion of sales of my artwork to causes I support. My reasoning is this — if I were to seek gallery representation to sell my art, anywhere from 30–50% of that sale would be taken by the gallery as commission and I may or may not get to know who bought it. Why not sell directly online and have a percentage go to support a cause instead? Granted, this route is not without challenges. I don’t have the built in network that galleries do, and it takes a lot of time and effort to promote oneself online and actually reach the right buyers. But — it is such a win-win for me! I get to create a piece of art, connect directly with the person buying my art, and fulfill my dream of being a philanthropist (albeit on a much smaller scale).

Currently, I have a couple of pieces for sale with specific causes they will support: “For Liberty” will help support veterans with PTSD, and “Timeless” will help support breast cancer research in honor of my Grandma. Buyers interested in purchasing one of my other original works are invited to let me know a cause they would like to support and I will find a related charity to make a donation to. Once buyers have received their art (and confirmed they love it), they also receive confirmation of the donation to the charity they selected.

Yes, I realize this concept means I will likely never have gallery representation, but I’ve always approached life differently anyway. Some call it “out-of-the-box thinking,” but I don’t even bother to identify the box they speak of — it sounds confining. To any other aspiring philanthropists, I recommend Charity Navigator to research any charity you are considering making a donation to. I welcome you to connect with me on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and view my portfolio of works on my website.

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