Digging deep can be confronting

I was recently asked to participate in an exhibition at a local gallery of artists self portraits. My immediate reaction was definitely NO! I have never had the desire to paint myself yet if you look back at the history of art most artists have painted one at some point.

In a moment of weakness I agreed.

This proved to be one of the most challenging pieces I have ever tackled. It forced me to look deep inside myself and reveal who I am. This journey was confronting but I did it! There was a point where I was about to throw in the towel and pull out but its not in my nature to give up. I love a challenge but this really tested me!

This is my thought process and how the painting evolved:

I did not have the full concept immediately. It evolved as the painting morphed into what it wanted to be!

I started off with the background which is quite textural and neutral. That part was easy. It was the following stages that took their time and tole!

I chose to do the portrait using splashes of bright colour representing the paint on my palette, which is very much a part of me.

The right side of the portrait is who I am, first and foremost, a woman. The opposite side represents the most important part of my life and that is my family. I am fierce when it comes to the protection and love of my children like a lioness protecting her cubs. The lioness also represents my passion for animals who don’t have a voice.

On this planet we share, I believe we are all connected to each other by an invisible force and this is represented by the surrounding trees encompassing the portrait.

The strong contrast of colour against a subdued background is how I often feel about my place in the universe. We are surrounded by negativity and it is a constant battle to remain positive in the face of adversity. “My cup is always half full” and that is my choice!

The exhibition opened a week ago at the Studio Bistro Gallery, Yallingup, Western Australia. http://www.thestudiogallery.com.au/

It was very interesting to see each individuals portrait and they are all so varied. The exhibition will end this Sunday.

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Paula Wiegmink – self portrait 2016

I welcome your comments and look forward to hearing about your experience with self portraiture!

 

Posted in Acrylic, Australian Artist, family, Fineart, Painting, Portraiture, Wildlife | Leave a comment

Can one person make a difference?

This is a question I ask myself all the time. Sometimes one gets so consumed by all the negativity that surrounds us on social media, in fact in most places that its difficult to find the light!

But we have choices. We can choose to see the glass half full or empty for that matter.

Trying to stay positive amidst the negativity is challenging and some days the weight can be enormous.

So do we as mere mortals sit back and just let it all happen or do we make a stand?

I am an ordinary person who chose to stand up and be a voice for our endangered wildlife.

I am an artist and by no means an expert on wildlife but I have a passion and a drive to fight for change.

Wildlife crime is out of control. Human greed is out of control. Poverty is out of control so where do we begin? Why fight for wildlife or any animal when humans are starving?

Isn’t every creature that inhabits this planet equally important? Is a human more important than an elephant?

I choose to think that we are all connected in some way by an invisible thread. When one of these threads is broken can this not in turn affect every other thread?

This brings me to my next topic and that is fund raising for charities and causes

There are so many organizations out there that it boggles the mind. It also appears that there are equally illegitimate organisations as legitimate ones! This makes it extremely hard to raise funds.

There are so many artists out there generously donating their artworks in good faith and equally as many organizations and charities freely accepting them. These artists can so easily be taken advantage of and need to make sure that when donating their work that they are being given for legitimate causes.

I have been donating artworks for more than 10 years to organizations for conservation fund raising, which I have done freely and willingly. Yet very seldom does one ever get any feed back and if indeed the painting was actually sold or not. The amount of time, effort and cost that goes into a painting varies for each piece and each artist.Weaving a piece of themselves into each piece they create, hoping just hoping that their work will carry their message. In my case awareness for the voiceless.

The ups and downs of social media

A very interesting observation about social media is that there are many people out there who are willing to comment, give advise be it good or bad and even more willing to bring you down. Why do humans feel the need to do this?

However there are very few who are prepared to put their money where their mouth is when push comes to shove! I am not criticizing but making an observation. Unless there is a high profile figure attached to draw attention or some obscure draw card no one is interested.

No matter what the future holds I will continue to fight for endangered species and my only hope is that we will all band together to take care of this planet. After all we are the caretakers and from what I can see we seem to be failing in so many ways! Maybe the next generation will do a better job?

You thoughts and comments are welcome.

Posted in Acrylic, Activist, Artist, Australian Artist, Conservation, Fineart, Painting, Passion, Rhino, Stop wildlife crime, Uncategorized, Wildlife | Leave a comment

TAKING THE PLUNGE

For many years I have been involved with wildlife conservation efforts  focusing on endangered species.

I have noticed that there has been a huge shift in the coverage of wildlife crime on social media, especially in the last year. This is understandable as there has been such a huge escalation in wildlife crime.

Last year I became very involved with the ONE FIGHT UNITE SAY NO poster awareness campaign. In a previous blog I wrote about the launch of the campaign in London last year. If you wish to find out more about this campaign you can follow this link: https://www.facebook.com/rages.one.fight.unite

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South African Black Mamba anti-poaching team – signing ‘Tears of the rhino’

A year down the track the poster of ‘Tears of the rhino’ has been signed by more than 50 high profile people across the globe. All these people are in some way or other involved with the preservation of the natural world. David Pocock was recently featured in a documentary about rhino poaching in Africa.

David Pocock  SAYS NO

David Pocock, South African/Australian rugby player signing ‘Tears of the rhino’

The campaign is ongoing and is being driven by Duke Ingram and Rubin Besureis from the ECO pop band Besureis – https://www.facebook.com/besureis/ . Their dedication and contribution has been incredible. Duke and Rubin are avid activists and advocates for animal welfare, they are a force to be reckoned with!

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Dr Jane Goodall flanked by  Rubin Besureis and Duke Ingram – London

This year ONE FIGHT UNITE launched another poster using an image of my painting ‘Tears are not enough’ of a chimpanzee. This painting was done especially for the campaign and was released to highlight the 25th anniversary celebration of Dr Jane Goodall Roots and Shoots program. https://www.rootsandshoots.org/ 

1 Sir Peter Blake

Sir Peter Blake signing ‘Tears are not enough’ in London

It seems that the only hope for the future of this planet is education focusing on the next generation who will hopefully take better care of this planet than we have.

It is with this that I decided to ‘take the plunge’ and go back to Africa to conduct field research and that gave birth to ‘An Artists Quest for answers’. I am planning to do research in various parts of Africa to get an unbiased overall view of what so many dedicated people on the ground are facing in their fight to combat wildlife crime.

I realized that I could not handle this financially on my own and decided to crowd fund through GOFUND ME. This was fraught with apprehension not knowing if what I planned to do would be supported by the public or not. I took the plunge and launched my campaign this week.

Within minutes I received my first donation which was really encouraging. I was also contacted by Alex from HYDROCRYL art supplies, an Australian company who have donated a box full of art supplies. I am so incredibly grateful to Hydrocryl  and to those who believe in my research project. For the artists out there this is a superb product and the acrylics are deliciously creamy and vibrant with strong pigments of the highest quality. I used some of these products to paint ‘Tears of the rhino’and I highly recommend them!  http://hydrocryl.com.au/

It is now time for me to act and get out there to find out as much as I can so that I am able to put together a presentation for education purposes. It is hard for people in other countries to relate to the problems in Africa and the hardships endured by so many people who are dedicated to saving wildlife. Regardless of the fact that they have so little and receive practically no support at all they soldier on at great cost to their personal safety.

If you believe in what I am doing and wish to support me on my quest for answers, your contribution no matter how small will be greatly appreciated. I have a way to go yet to reach my target so any further assistance will be very much appreciated.

For any photographers out there I am looking for a good camera/video with at least an 80x optical zoom. I plan to document everything with photos, personal interviews etc to put together a presentation/documentary. I would appreciate some advice and or if perhaps any one has upgraded and might have a camera they are no longer using? Maybe there is a camera company out there that would be willing to sponsor me with this?

If you are unable to donate then sharing my quest would be absolutely fantastic!

Please follow this link: gofundme.com/22zrj9p6

I have never asked for assistance with anything in my life and would not be doing this except the animals need a voice and I have to do everything I can.

I know that what I am doing is but a drop in the ocean but surely if we all band together we can make a difference and put an end to the unspeakable cruelty and carnage of our precious wildlife?

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“All over the world the wildlife that I write about is in grave danger. It is being exterminated by what we call the progress of civilization.” ~Gerald Durrell

Posted in Acrylic, Australian Artist, Fineart, Painting, Stop wildlife crime, Wildlife | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A NEW START

Just over a year and a half ago we decided to move to Dunsborough, 3 hours south west of Perth, Western Australia.

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Local Meelup beach

We had been living in Willetton for the last 20 years in the only home we had owned since migrating from South Africa. My husband and I both felt we were ready for a sea change!

The move was not an easy one. My husband Menno worked right up until shortly before we left so it was up to me to pack up our home of twenty years. This proved to be an enormous task! I had a garage sale every weekend for 6 weeks! Anyone who knows me knows that I am a collector of stuff!!!!

By the time we relocated unpacked and settled I had lost seven months’ production. I was completely exhausted and in so many ways felt that ‘The wheels had fallen off the bus’!

In Perth I felt I had established myself as an artist. I had been president of the Alfred Cove Art Society for 2 years. I had been judging art and craft for more than ten years and had been tutoring art for many years.

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Some of the wonderful ladies in my art class of more then 17 years

Here we were in our new home, not knowing anybody and starting all over again. Had we made the right decision? Had I made a mistake as far as my art was concerned? Would we fit into our new environment? Filled with mixed emotions and suffering from exhaustion I never felt like I would be normal again.

A few months after settling in I was invited to be on the Colour in Your Life Art program. My studio wasn’t even complete and I wondered if I should do it.

Paula and Graeme

Graeme Stevenson and me in my brand new studio!

Well if you read one of my previous blogs you will see I did and it was a most enjoyable experience and basically kick started me back into action.

Now where do I go, what do I do, how do I get my art out there again?

Life has a way of putting you where you need to be, sometimes taking you out of your comfort zone and on a path you did not expect.

The Studio Gallery in Yallingup approached me inviting me to exhibit with them with my still life paintings. I was delighted and started work immediately on a new collection of miniatures.

2 Mug and cherries

The very first piece I did for the gallery

One day when leaving the gallery, I spotted a little red robin sitting on the fence as we were driving out. ‘STOP THE CAR’ I said to my husband which he did wondering what the problem was. Luckily my camera was in my bag where it usually is! My husband rolled the window down and I started clicking away. Well this little robin sat there for ages, posing this way and that as if to say “This is my best side”, “No this is”. I couldn’t believe my luck. Then off he flew. I discovered that this beautiful delicate little bird is a scarlet robin and is a resident in the gallery grounds.

I sneaked the robin into one of my still life paintings and wondered what the gallery would think? When the painting was delivered it was hung and sold almost immediately!

1 Studio Robin's debut SOLD

Studio Robin’s debut

This year the Gallery invited me to be their artist in residence during the Margaret River Open Studios. A large annual event with many artists in the region participating from Busselton to Augusta.

This was the most wonderful opportunity for me and for three weekends in April I did what I love to do most and that is paint nonstop!

For two of the weekends I was able to paint outdoors under a canopy on their stage. This was truly an ‘Open Studio.’ I met so many people from all over the world, Dublin, Scotland, America, UK, Cape Town, Zimbabwe, Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Many other artists also visited for a chat or a quick look in between their own open studio.

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Having fun in the sun!

 I was especially delighted that there were so many interested children who stood and watched me, asking questions and sharing with me what they loved to draw and paint. One boy even named some of my eggs which I had painted in a large blue and white bowl. He pointed to the one egg and said, “I have given that one a name”. Curious I asked him what it was and he said, “Yoko”! I thought that was very clever. He walked away and a little later returned with his Dad and said to me “Did I know that Yoko had twin brothers”? Now really intrigued I asked him if they had names and he said yes, “Egglette and Omelette”! I was delighted such a wonderful imagination. He had obviously given it much thought!

Eggs

See if you can spot the twins!

When you relocate to a new area out of your comfort zone, have no friends and feel isolated it is difficult to have a sense of belonging. Moving into an area that is rich with creativity, surrounded by an abundance of well know and established artists can be very daunting and isolating. You are the ‘new kid on the block’ and you have to find your way.

Participating in the Open Studios as artist in residence at the Studio Gallery gave me the opportunity to feel like a part of the community, giving me the chance to interact with locals and meet new people. I am sincerely grateful to Sandy and Steve Tippett for their support.

Slowly I am beginning to feel like I belong but suspect it will take more time to be accepted!

Posted in Acrylic, Australian Artist, Fineart, Painting, Uncategorized, Wildlife | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

On top of the world at Grouse Mountain

When I was recently invited to exhibit my painting ‘To the Point’ with Artists for Conservation, in Vancouver, Canada, I was absolutely delighted! The painting had to be stretched, packed and sent off on another exciting journey. This painting which has not only won awards  has opened so many doors for me and taken me on such an incredible journey.

Mike Duff Grouse Mountain

Mike Duff manning the welcome table at Grouse Mountain – Thank you Mike for doing a fantastic job!

Artists for Conservation (AFC) are the world’s leading artist group supporting the environment. The AFC’s program provides an online venue for the sale of artwork with a portion of the proceeds voluntarily earmarked for a conservation organisation of the artists’ choice. The organisation only accepts 500 artists worldwide who have to go through an application process and meet certain requirements. Their “Mission  is to support wildlife and habitat conservation and environment education through art that celebrates nature.”  http://www.natureartists.com/

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This years exhibition poster for the Artists For Conservation

A total of 80 artists were selected  for the live exhibition. This year the exhibition kicked off at the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel, Vancouver, Canada on Saturday 10th Sept with the Annual Gala dinner and awards evening.  During the weekend festivities they had live demonstrations, musical performances, African drumming, slideshow presentations and a nature art walk to Stanley Park.

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Margaret Moore sent me this photo of her standing in front of my painting at the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel Preview – Thank you Margaret

The exhibition was then moved to Grouse Mountain where the festival continued showcasing the artworks as well as film show presentations, musical performances and Youth School workshops.

Grouse Mountain Lodge

Entrance to the base of Grouse Mountain where we boarded the gondola

When I arrived in Vancouver I couldn’t wait to get to Grouse Mountain to see the exhibition. One of my ex ballet students from South Africa now resident in Vancouver came to collect us and we headed off for the mountain. As we were staying near the inner city we  had to cross over the Burrard Inlet on the  Ironworkers Memorial Bridge to get to the north shore.

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View from the gondola 

We arrived at the base of grouse Mountain and took a gondola up to the Grouse Mountain resort. The excitement was palpable and the view was stunning. It was a bit cloudy when we set off but as we neared the top the clouds lifted and the Vancouver panorama just unfolded before our eyes, breath taking.

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Such tranquility

I met with Jeffrey Whiting Founder and President of AFC who invited us to lunch so we could  get to know each other. Jeff and I hit it off as we chatted non stop (hard to believe I know) sharing  our common passion for both our art forms and the love of nature. Jeff invited me to participate in the children’s workshop and I jumped at the opportunity as education is definitely the key to preserving our world.

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Jess, Irene, Jeff and Paula

Jeff put together a  slide show presentation for the workshops which were conducted over a 5 day period during the exhibition festival.

The presentation was given at the Feast House, a First Nation traditional building constructed for education purposes. Grouse Mountains very own William Nahanee (Kwel-a-anexw), member of the Squamish Nation gave a traditional First Nation peoples welcome and greeting.

Jeff, a superb artist, sculptor and author conducted the first half of the slide show presentation giving a brief outline about AFC  focusing on the Bear and how his artistic passion is linked to nature conservation.

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Jeff about to start his demonstration with a captured audience

I conducted the second half of the slide show, which  gave me the opportunity to talk about the rhino and the International ‘SAY NO’ Poster awareness campaign. I was also able to share my artistic passion with the children and how it is linked to conservation and endangered species.  Jeffrey and I then each gave a short demonstration of our chosen subject before the children were invited to draw the animal of their choice.  I felt so privileged to be a part of this event targeting  youth education on the environment, conservation and the roll that an artist can play to spread the word.

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Not only the children gave it a go!

William Nahanee gave me the honour of wearing a traditional cape and headdress for a photo.

William and Paula

William Nahanee and Paula

This platform also gave me a wonderful opportunity to talk about the  worldwide poster campaign, a global movement  launched  in London this year, using the image of one of my  paintings titled ‘Tears of the rhino’. This campaign ‘One Fight Unite SAY NO’ headed by Duke Ingram from Besureis in conjunction with Rotary Coolamon Eastern Australia will be ongoing and is focusing on endangered species. The Patron of the Rotary Action Group is Dr Jane Goodall.

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The One Fight Unite Say No Poster

To date some of the high profile people that have come on board to show their support are: Dr Jane Goodall, Sir David Attenborough, Seal, Brian May (Queen), Kevin Richardson, Jeremy Irons, Jean Claude Van Damme, David Gillmore, Ricky Gervais and Russel Brand to name a few. Some of our home grown conservationists such as Nicholas Duncan from the Save African Rhino Foundation in Perth, John and Angie Lemon from the Painted Dog Conservation, Bob Brown and Damien Mander from the Anti-Poaching Foundation have all signed the poster giving their support to the campaign. If you wish to find out more about the campaign please visit their facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/rages.one.fight.unite/?fref=ts

Here are a few of the latest people to sign the poster.  A huge thank you for your support for the campaign!

45 Jeremy Irons (2)

Jeremy Irons

48 Ricky Gervais

Ricky Gervais

49 John and Angie Lemon PDFoundation

Angie and John Lemon

46 Martin Potter-Kelly Slater-Owen Wright

Kelly Slater

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Russell Brand

I am delighted to announce my proposed 2016 African Safari to raise funds for the Save Foundation for Rhino conservation. Places are limited so if you wish to be a part of this incredible tour please contact Paula for more info asap: paulaw_art@hotmail.com or contact Nicholas Duncan and mention Paula’s safari:  save@savefoundation.org.au

Up close and personal!

Up close and personal!

“Being invited to participate in this years international exhibition was such a privilege and honour for me, not only as an artist but to share my passion for the amazing world we live in. I  met some wonderful like-minded people and even saw my very first grizzly bears! Some of the highlights of my trip were visiting the Capalano Suspension Bridge, Art Gallery of Vancouver, Bill Reid Gallery, Butchart Gardens on the Island of Victoria, Stanley Park, Vancouver Aquarium as well as visiting the beautiful Saturna Island.”

Grouse Mountains famous resident bears Coola and Grinder

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Paula is resident in Dunsborough, South West Australia and is represented by The Studio Gallery Yallingup and The Monet Gallery Guildford.

Paula has a studio/gallery at home and her work is available for viewing by appointment.

Contact Email: paulaw_art@hotmail.com                Tel Paula: +61410423433

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Is Australia the answer to saving the rhino

Well I am delighted to say that the ‘Colour In You Life’ video is now on utube. Please check it out, share, comment and lets get the word out there and spread the word for the rhino.

 www.youtube.com/watch?v=vgcXE7_4K08

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‘Tears of the rhino’ – hear my voice

I have been completely overwhelmed by the response to the video with such positive feed back. Thank you so much to all.

There have been such a lot of people who have been following the progress of the large painting that I am doing at the moment of a herd of elephants. I am loving every moment and if you would like to check it out please visit my facebook artist page. I value your feedback. Haven’t got a title for the painting yet, any suggestions?

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The elephant herd stage 6 so far!

I  watched a video recently posted on facebook about sending rhinos to Australia for safe keeping. Well this is certainly thinking outside the box. I should imagine that they will have to jump through many hoops and red tape to make this happen. We certainly have the space. It of course would depend on them finding the right terrain for them to flourish and breed to build up numbers. So is Australia the answer?

It absolutely baffles me that there are so many people out there defending the rhinos with their lives,  trying so hard to save them and at the same time there are others absolutely intent on slaughtering them as fast as they can for personal gain, greed, without a shred of empathy.

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In the wild where they belong

Judging by the media coverage out there, there have been many arrests and bans put into place for transporting trophies on major airlines, including Australia. This is very positive news indeed. However the crimes have also escalated ten fold!

The problem seems so complex with so much imbalance in the world and so much poverty globally. I don’t know what the answer is and it seems that no one else does either. It is so frustrating and in the mean time we are loosing wildlife at an alarming rate with know thought or caring for the outcome.

So lets shout from the roof tops, SAY NO, jump up and down, spread the word and let the power of the people stop this madness.

Freedom of the rhino- show me the way - w 180cm x h 116cm

‘Freedom of the rhino’ – show me the way

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‘Tears of the rhino’ has a voice

Having the opportunity to re-create my painting ‘Tears of the rhino’ on the ‘Colour in Your Life’ television art series gave me a wonderful opportunity to show my passion to the world.

Using my art as a vehicle, combining not only my passion  for art but wildlife is an honour and a privilege.

I want to take this opportunity to thank Graeme Stevenson from ‘Colour In You Life’ and his amazing team for giving me an opportunity of a life time.

Since the program aired last weekend I have had the most incredible feedback from all over the world which is so encouraging. I hope that in some way my art is able to ‘give back’ to help draw attention to our ever increasing loss of  wildlife. A worldwide problem due to not only the environmental changes but also the senseless slaughtering of innocent animals for human greed.

I never dreamed that my painting ‘Tears of the rhino’ – hear my voice would indeed find such a powerful voice and keep company with such prominent people.

All I have is my art but with such prominent people on board the RAGES ONE FIGHT UNITE SAY NO poster campaign maybe, just maybe change will eventuate.

With so much happening in the world both environmentally, with the constant tragic loss of human life one might say why bother with the wildlife? Are we not all connected in some way?  Linked by an invisible chain? Are we not charged with the responsibility of taking care of each other?

There seems to be such an imbalance of power and money from the mega wealthy to total poverty. What is the answer?

Even though  my contribution seems so minuscule in the scheme of things, I choose as an artist to give a voice to those who cannot speak and only hope in some way to contribute towards this planet we call home.

If you care and wish to share and spread the word here is the utube link to view how ‘Tears of the rhino’ was created and hopefully the rhino’s voice will get louder and louder as it journeys around the world. So if you listen carefully you might hear that rhino fading in the distance calling, “PLEASE HELP ME!” 

Paula Wiegmink utube:        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vgcXE7_4K08

Here are just a few of the amazing people who have signed to  ‘SAY NO’ so far

32 Brian May

Brian May – Queen

34 Kevin Richardson

Kevin Richardson – ‘The Lion whisperer’

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Jean-Claude Van Damme

29 Dr Dame Daphne Sheldrick MBE 30

Dr Dame Daphne Sheldrick MBE

8d the wolf says no

Tonya Littlewolf – Wolf Mountain Sanctuary – Even the wolf says no!

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Dame Vivienne Westwood

Thank you to all the wonderful people who have come on board to ‘SAY NO’  showing  your support to end animal cruelty and to save our endangered species.

Posted in Painting, Stop wildlife crime, Wildlife | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment