RIDGWAY — An Elk County artist is offering to paint pet portraits for area animal lovers, just in time for Christmas gifts.

Until Dec. 15, Dennis McNutt of Weedville is accepting photographs of “fur buddies,” which he will turn into a canvas painting. Part of the proceeds will benefit the Ridgway Animal Haven project.

Karen Capiello, founder of the RAH, has been working to raise funds and awareness in order to build an animal shelter in Ridgway, next to her home. The building will provide 13 pens for stray animals.

Growing up in Elk County, McNutt developed a love for the outdoors. As a teenager, he worked on pencil and charcoal drawings.

He has always loved painting, but got away from it throughout his lifetime, McNutt says. His grandchildren started taking him to “paint and sip” events, encouraging him to start painting again after he retired.

Now that he’s retired and settled in Weedville, McNutt’s love for painting has blossomed, he said. He won an award for a nighttime painting of a bull elk — a scene out of his own backyard.

He’s also an animal lover himself, so this is not only a project he enjoys, but a cause close to his heart.

“There is no animal shelter in Ridgway,” McNutt said. “These volunteers are trying to do so much and I figure I can do what I can to help.”

He turned his spare bedroom into a studio, and started avidly painting again in January, focusing mainly on wildlife and animal subjects.

McNutt has attended painting shows in places like Brockway and DuBois, with one of his pieces taking first place in the Brockway Fourth of July art contest.

He’s been educating himself, too, watching videos and learning new techniques to be a better artist, McNutt says.

“People love their pets,” he said. “A lot of people don’t have children, they just have their pets that they love. This is a good fundraising idea for the shelter.”

If interested, you may send a picture of your pet to dennismcnutt48@gmail.com, or: Dennis McNutt Art Studio, 85 Melio Lane, Weedville, PA 15868.

Available sizes/prices are an 8 by 10-inch canvas for $55, plus $3.30 tax, a 9 by 12-inch for $75 plus $4.50 tax or an 11 by 14-inch painting for $100, plus $6 tax.

For more information on how to contribute to the RAH, call Cappiello at 814-389-7080 or see the Ridgway Animal Haven on Facebook. Volunteers and funds are always needed.

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