Animal portraits raise £4000 for Scottish SPCA

Helen Wilson with some of her work. Picture: Lesley Martin
Helen Wilson with some of her work. Picture: Lesley Martin
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A BIG-hearted animal-mad artist has smashed a fundraising target despite being only half-way through an epic challenge.

Helen Wilson, from Lasswade, decided to draw a different animal portrait every day for 100 days and auction them in a bid to raise £4000 for the Scottish SPCA.

The freelance training consultant, who rediscovered her artistic roots six years ago when she was asked to produce a portrait of her aunt’s dog as a wedding present, admitted she was unsure if the project would take off.

But her Helen Wilson Animal Art Facebook page, from where she sold the works, now has more than 1650 supporters – and her work is flying off the cyber shelves.

The 45-year-old said: “Until recently, I was very resistant to Facebook, but my friends kept on at me and I have to admit I was amazed when I saw all the innovative ways people were using social media to draw attention to and aid good causes.

“I’m a member of the SSPCA, and I have an adopted dog and a horse, but I felt like I wanted to do more, and that’s how I came up with the idea.

“But there was some concern that the whole thing would crash and burn and I’d end up with two followers and give up on day 12.

“I’m so surprised and so grateful to everyone who has supported this effort, especially a core few who were the ones really getting the word out there by liking and sharing the first few pictures as often as they could.”

Helen said her inspiration had come both from followers and her own imagination.

“I’ve been sent over 1000 pictures of people’s pets now and I would say drawings of those take up about 30 per cent of what’s up so far,” she said.

“The rest is a combination of pictures I’ve taken myself and pictures I’ve just happened to see. I would love to say I have some sort of plan, but to be honest it’s really just what I feel like drawing.”

Having raised £4000 with 50 days to spare, Helen said the only difficulty she faced was deciding what to do next – but now hopes to double her initial target. “I don’t want to get carried away but I’m going to cautiously say that I’m now aiming to have £8000 for the SSPCA by the time the 100th drawing is sold.”

But the artist, who lives with partner George Moffat, 51 – a vegetarian, who ironically works as a farm assessor for Quality Meat – said she couldn’t pick her favourite picture.

“Probably one of the black and white dramatically lit ones, but that’s as far as I could narrow it down,” she said. “The drawing that’s been most popular so far is the lion sleeping with its head in its paws – that went for £162.”