Some paint-and-sips pair Merlot with van Gogh.
This one pairs seniors on two legs and four.
Residents of Everett’s Garden Court Retirement Community paint pictures of elderly pets in need. It’s a happy hour activity, with a water glass and a wine glass.
It’s rewarding for residents, some who haven’t picked up a paintbrush in decades, and it gives them something to do. It’s exposure for the homeless dogs and cats needing love or financial support.
The portraits are hung in shops and offices for people to admire and maybe fall in love with the furry faces needing homes or sponsors. Donations raise money for Old Dog Haven in Lake Stevens and Purrfect Pals Cat Shelter in Arlington. The artwork can be a keepsake for the person adopting the animal or brighten the wall of the senior artist.
Alix Frazier, a Lake Stevens tech executive, started the outreach project, Picture Purfect Pets, that’s a unique twist on the paint-and-sip trend.
“So many seniors suffer depression. Marrying the pets with the seniors was a natural thing,” Frazier said.
The dogs and cats don’t come to happy hour. Frazier uses photos of the pets to sketch an outline on canvas using puffy paint. Residents basically color in the lines, but it can be intimidating at first.
“Ninety percent say, ‘Oh, I’m no good in art,’” Frazier said. “I say, ‘Did you teach your kids to color? Do you color with your grandkids?’ Then you can so do this.’ ”
“It’s about finding your inner Picasso. Just try. Use your imagination. Do anything you want. We have an orange, yellow and green cat over there. It’s beautiful. These guys are getting good.”
Frazier was inspired last December by a Facebook post she saw of two cats that needed sponsors for medical bills.
“I had just started painting. I did it as a stress reliever,” Frazier said. “My eighth-grade teacher had told me I had absolutely no art talent, so I quit for 40 years. I thought, ‘Well, I’ll just try to paint those animals.’ They came out pretty good, I thought.”
The folks at Purrfect Pals agreed. They said her paintings would fetch a lot of money at their charity auction.
Frazier started Picture Purfect Pets to unite senior human and pets in a cause.
“I thought, ‘Who’s sitting around who really needs a purpose and would feel fulfilled by doing this?’ Because I felt fulfilled when they told me it would be worth something. My friend owns Garden Court. I said, ‘Can I come in and test it this with your people?’ ” she said.
“At the first class there were 22 people.”
Frazier supplies the paint. Garden Court supplies the wine.
Her friend, former middle-school art teacher Leslie Dickinson, of Lynnwood, helps provide art direction to the seniors.
Wine helps set the mood.
“It’s the first time I’ve touched this kind of stuff,” Eric Eckberg, 94, said of the paint, not the wine.
Does the wine help him find his inner artist?
“It doesn’t help me draw,” he said. “It helps me stay here.”
Interjected Dora Rice, activities director: “No paint, no sip.”
The activity promotes mingling.
“It’s a fun time,” said resident Patricia Roberts. “It’s something better than sitting up in your room by yourself.”
Seniors can keep their paintings if they want. They pick the pet to bring to life on canvas.
Janet Banks said she chose the cutest cat.
“It looks like the last cat I had,” she said. “Her name was Pepper. She was black and white. We had her 17 years.”
Linda Suby likes the challenge.
“It’s a learning adventure and I think it’s relaxing,” she said.
It brings back fond memories. “We used to have pets. Cats, dogs, ducks, geese, pigs,” she said.
Does she ever dip her paintbrush in the wine?
“Not yet,” she said.
Want to paint?
The public can paint at Pet Appreciation Day, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 18, at Garden Court Retirement Community, 520 112th St. SW, Everett; 425-438-9080. There will be agility course demonstrations, adoption information, a hot dog lunch ($6), door prizes, music and vendors such as groomers, veterinarians and pet food stores. All proceeds go to animal causes.