Animal art retreat at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary

It’s easy to plan a vacation around one’s passion. It’s much harder to find a suitable get-away combining two passions. (Unless those passions are spa treatments and golf.) But for the artist with a passion for animals, there can be no better vacation than the Best Friends "Art for the Animals: A Creative Retreat."

Art for the animals workshop

This past June, the third annual workshop took place in the beautiful environs of Angel Canyon, with Best Friends staff-member and artist Cyrus Mejia leading the five-day session.

"This is always an inspirational event for me," says Cyrus. "I always learn something new from the participants."

The goal is to encourage artists to promote the cause of animals and the No More Homeless Pets Campaign.

Schedule for the artist retreat

The morning sessions begin with life drawings of the residents at Best Friends. Each day, Cyrus leads the 15 participants to different parts of the sanctuary to study, draw and spend time with cats, dogs, horses, bunnies and birds.

After lunch, Cyrus leads a discussion about the "message" that the artists are hoping to convey. Will this message be obvious or subliminal? Who is the audience --- are they fellow animal welfare enthusiasts? Artists? Strangers? How will they convey they message? And with what medium?

Cyrus invites the group to his studio to show how he uses his own art to connect with animals through pieces like "Ark," his collage boat commemorating Best Friends rescue efforts during Hurricane Katrina and his latest larger-than-life paintings of pit bulls, to reflect the larger-than-life issues surrounding this misunderstood breed.

At the closing dinner, everyone brings their art to display and to discuss how they can find their own ways to promote kindness to animals within their communities.

Find out about workshops offered at Best Friends

Photos by Sarah Ause