AUTHOR AND ILLUSTRATOR Phyllis Limbacher Tildes always had a soft spot for those in need, and when she saw a video of rescued shelter pets being trained to help veterans cope with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, she felt compelled to give back.
This burning desire helped inspire her to create a project she calls “Art Benefiting Vets and Pets,” where she creates pet portraits for those who want their pet immortalized in art, with 100% of the profits going to various organizations, including the SD Gunner Fund, ECAD (Educated Canines Assisting with Disabilities), and the Humane Society of Greater Savannah.
“I just got started over the summer and I’m sure Covid had something to do with it,” said Tildes. “I was in-between book publishing, I had a book come out in the spring and I’m sort of working on another, and I had gotten an email — I can’t even remember who it was from — with a video having to do with training therapy dogs, particularly for veterans with disabilities. For a number of years, I have been doing pet portraits for people and I thought, ‘Maybe if I offer my services and give all the money to these kinds of organizations it might pique some interest.’”
The paintings can be of any animal and differ from a wide range of mediums and price ranges. Depending on the size, customers can receive a pet portrait via oil on canvas ($350-700), watercolor ($200-350), or colored pencil ($150-200; if photographed by Tildes $50). After the purchase and the painting process is complete, Tildes distributes the profits among the three organizations.
“I choose which organization I send it to, but any thank-you notes I get from those organizations, I send those to the person who commissioned me,” said Tildes. “If people aren’t sure about taking the photographs, then I will photograph the animal. Most of the time people can take decent pictures. Sometimes, I might work from six different pictures to get just the right image. Most of them are small, close-up portraits. Some years ago, I did a full-size painting of a German Shepherd, as the woman who requested it wanted it to be the actual size of the dog.”
As an author and illustrator of children’s books published by Charlesbridge Publishing, Inc., Tildes has plenty of experience drawing animals, even dating back to when she was just two years old.
“As a child I loved books, I loved to read,” said Tildes. “I always liked to draw from the time I was two and a half when I first drew a butterfly and surprised my mother, who couldn’t believe I could draw a butterfly at two and a half. They always encouraged me, one thing led to another, and eventually, I got published. My 24th book, Bunny’s Big Surprise, was released in the spring of this year.”
Children’s books by Tildes are available on Amazon, the Barnes & Noble website, and through her publisher’s website, charlesbridge.com.
Her idea is a selfless act, considering Tildes won’t be profiting from these portraits at all and will undoubtedly help those in need. Considering it is the time of year to give, these portraits are a great gift for any animal-lover in your life for the holidays. Helping veterans is a huge part of the process, but this project will help others in need as well.
“It doesn’t just go to the veterans,” said Tildes. “There are children with disabilities that need dogs, there’s a great need for many people with different problems, sometimes they need help with emotional problems such as PTSD. In many cases for people with emotional disabilities, it may be saving their lives.”