Tag Archive | Humane Society of the North Bay

Artist Bruce Hilvitz immortalizes Reggie J Rabbit in Portrait

Reggie hanging out

This is the photo we sent Bruce. Look below to see Bruce’s work.

I have written about our Warrior Bunny, Reggie. He is funny, mischievous a little pushy at times but we love his spirit. Almost a month ago, we had a scare. Reggie came down with something. He stopped eating, and started losing weight. He became lethargic. So we took him to his vet, Dr. Riddle. He got an injection of antibiotics and an additional 7 day supply of antibiotics to take home. It took almost 7 days before we saw that he was making a recovery but he is doing awesome now and from this experience he has become more affectionate and sweet. He will come up to me and ask me to pet him. if he is in his little hiding place under his chair and I need to see him,  I call him and he comes out so I can pet him. This experience brought us closer together. I realized then I wanted to get a portrait done of him. I have never been able to paint or draw rabbits but when my husband’s Friend, Bruce Hilvitz, who is a very talented artist donated a pet portrait for the yearly Humane Society of the North Bay’s Barkitecture,  I asked Bruce to make a portrait of Reggie. It was an easy process. We sent Bruce a hi-resolution photo of Reggie and he sent us back a digital file of Reggie within the week. It was really fast. He really captured Reggie’s essence. As I am looking at Reggie’s portrait, these questions about Bruce’s art started flooded in my mind.  How did he develop his style? Does he believe he has to suffer for his art? So I decided to ask the artist himself. Here is a short interview I did with Bruce:

Did you take formal art classes?

Bruce: One month in art school was all I could muster. Back in those days, where I was, there wasn’t any respect for cartooning in art school.  Although, I did grow up within an arts community, via my Mother, so way before High school, I had experience in virtually all disciplines of art

What was the defining moment when you realized you wanted to pursue your art as a career?

Bruce: I can’t recall one, per se…I’ve always drawn, played with paints, clay, whatever was handy at the moment.  I’ve always relied on visuals, be it art, toys, cars, buildings…anything that I enjoyed looking at.

How do you describe your art?

Bruce: My art and career has been based on comic art mostly.  Something I’ve been drawn to my whole life (no pun intended).  It can run the gamut since I’ve had to learn to wear many “hats” in order to make a living … comics don’t pay very well, and they are time consuming. Illustrations a bit better, general graphic design, hourly, is the best.  Special projects, here and there are also nice when there’s that opportunity…like book design, and editing, limited edition print production. 

What artists influenced you when you were developing your style?

Bruce: Early on I was weened on MAD Magazine, of course…guys like Basil Wolverton, Jack Davis, Wil Elder, Harvey Kurtzman. I had a very short lived love affair with super hero stuff…I appreciate that stuff more now, than I did then…but my true love came to light when I first laid eyes on a Robert Crumb comic, and it finally struck me with the thought that ANYTHING is possible. And so it is.

How would you describe the medium you work in?

Bruce: These days it all seems to be based on digital technology.  I sometimes start with a regular ‘ol drawing that I scan then work out color or details in a vector based program, usually Flash or Illustrator. I don’t draw “on paper” as much as I really should, digital art doesn’t have the tactual satisfaction that paper does…no originals to really drool over. You can see who has “chops” when you see an original drawing on stiff white bristol board.

Do you agree you have to suffer for your art?

Bruce: No, but it helps. Truthfully it’s a tough profession, if you are not willing to sacrifice common things in life, then you better think of something else to do.

When did you decide to start doing pet portraits?

Bruce: I started this past holiday season…I live in a neighborhood with many, many dogs, I figured someone might be interested…just another “hat” to wear.

Do you have any animal companions?

Bruce: The best dog on earth…a reformed runaway name Aristotle. A black Pekingese, only an Anti-Pekingese…he doesn’t bark, maybe twice a year, if that…he does sneeze, and fart a lot though…I can’t blame him, he’s in the neighborhood of 14 (years).

This Is Bruce's pride and Joy, Aristotle.

This Is Bruce’s pride and Joy, Aristotle.

Any advice for aspiring artists?

Bruce: Don’t do it!!! no…just learn, work hard, be honest with yourself…  The best advice I try to follow, not sure who said it, in the lines of… “Do art as if your parents are dead.”

Can you expand on that philosophy- “Do art as if your parents are dead.”

My interpretation is ‘don’t be afraid of what other people think…just do it.’ Criticism, and especially self-criticism, is the death nell of art. Even though it’s hard to avoid, or listen to.

For anyone interested in having you create a portrait for their pets how can they contact you?

Bruce: Easy as going to my site…


Bruce captured Reggie's essence.

Bruce captured Reggie’s essence.


Ain’t Love Grand?

This is the front of the Valentine's day Card I gave to my Honey, David

Yes, “ain’t” is a word in the dictionary. Today is Valentine’s Day. A day to celebrate love, proclaim love from the deepest parts of your soul to your special someone (or someone’s if you are are in a plural Marriage like the show that was on TLC, “First Wives”). It sure takes a lot of self-esteem not to get jealous of your husband showing love to your other sister wives, I could never do it, but I admire people who share a common foundation that works for them. As long as it is in agreement between all parties, and it doesn’t hurt anyone, why not? I watched the series on NetFlix and was taken with the deep love and respect they have for each other and their kids. And guess what, you have other people to help with the housework and child raising, and if you are not in the mood, you can ask your sister wife to “take the bullet for you”, so to speak.

But I digress. I am so grateful for the love that my husband, David and I share. We  say “I love you” everday. We do special things for each other, make coffee for each other or fix meals for each other, take over the household chores if one is swamped with work. Because we are both artists besides the work we do for the company we work at, Divineware, David is the webmaster at the Humane Society of the North Bay, that is an ongoing project. He gets to do his cartoon art on the website. He is in the midst of promoting their annual fundraiser, Barkitecture, that is another full time job.

I have my art work. I am producing my “Let Their Voice Be Heard” concert fundraising project to go to places in the country promoting the

This is Fiona showing you what Dad and the Four-legged kids got for me. The kids gave me the "Hello Kitty" Chocolates. Fiona says she resembles "Hello Kitty".

message of peace, respect, love and dignity between animals and humans (as well as other beings on the planet). I am writing more songs. I started working with a guide,a well-known singer/songwriter who passed on, that is helping me fine tunng my piano playing skills.

I just agreed to serve on the Board of Trustees for the church I belong to the Vallejo Center for Spiritual Living. I am also the Chair of the Public Relations committee (I am still in the process of bringing in the committee). So between all our activites. We are constantly taking care of a project. And then besides our work we also have 5 active four-legged kids. So constant cleaning to the cages, litter boxes (our rabbits have their own litter boxes). We don’t free feed our cats or rabbits, and our bunnies get fresh organic veggies from the garden or the store.

But that is some of the things that keeps our 11 year marriage growing strong. I was talking to a lady from our church recently, Linda Moore-Watts and asked her what makes her 24 year marriage work? One of the first things Linda said was “patience” the second thing she said is “listening”. She also mentioned that it is important to have your own interestes besides things you do together.

When I have posed this question to people, who I can tell still have that spark for each other, I hear similar responses. One of my favorite phrases is “don’t take anything personally“. The times that David and I argue, we may say some pretty intense things, out of anger, but I know that in spite of these verbal barbs thrown at me, he loves me. He has since were sophomores in high school and this fact, reminds me when I want to storm out of the house and say “That’s it!”

I want to leave you with a valentine email we got from our boss:

“Its a special day to us because it was  vday 11 years ago that I proposed the idea of starting the company to Virginia  so that I could spend each and every day with her.” 

What a wonderful declaration of love. And one of the big tests they have passed of how well they not only love each other, but like being with each other is that they leave their home in the Sabastopol area and travel in their RV and stay in  San Diego with their two cats. Now that is togetherness!

Tap your way through life

I think Tap dancing is a great form of exercise and fun to watch. I remember watching Gwen Verdon in “White Christmas”. There was a song she was tapping to and her toe was tapping so fast I couldn’t see it move but I could hear it. I also loved the fancy footwork of Gregory Hines, he wasn’t bad on the eyes either. This is actually not a blog entry about tap dancing. This was a creative way of talking about one of my favorite things to do when I am stressed, angry or have physical pain. I tap it away.

Yes, you read right. I tap it away. I use a form of acupressure that is called the Emotional Freedom Technique or EFT.  This healing modality is also called Energy Psychology, because we are using our words to change the energy in the body by using key phrases.  There is one core issue that is causing the problem. One master practitioner said that when you use EFT on a problem it is like turning back the clock to the time before you suffered the trauma.

For instance, I used to have a phobia of speaking up for myself when I was in conflict. My brain would instantly freeze and I couldn’t remember what I needed to say. This really got in the way when I had work conflicts. Then later on, after I left the meeting, I would kick myself because, then my brain woke up and I remembered what I needed to say. I finally went to an EFT practitioner and through the tapping , I found out that my core issue or unconscious message was that I would be punished if I spoke up. This came from an experience I had when I was in fourth grade.

I had a very tyrannical teacher. She was a believer that if you don’t  answer the questions correctly or you make a mistake, you would be hit on the knuckles with a ruler or locked in a closet.  My classmates were always saying “Someone needs to get rid of her.”  One day as we were learning square dancing, I didn’t move the right way and she grabbed me by the collar and yanked me back. She was wearing a ring with a sharp edge and she cut my neck. When I got home I showed my parents. They went and spoke to the principal and the teacher got a reprimand. The next day she stood in front of the class, and said that  I told on her. Instead of all the kids patting me on the back and saying “good job” they all turned against me and asked me how I could be so mean? I was ostracized and it lasted until I got out of grammar school.  Through the series of tappings I started feeling my anxiety lessen and now when there is a conflict, my mind is still alert. This name fits perfectly.  It is like being released from an emotional prison. This was a big one for me and it lasted for over 44 years!

EFT practitioners have used EFT to help veterans, release Post Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms. There was one person  memories of the war were so strong, he had to literally drink so he could pass out. After a few weeks of EFT, he no longer drinks and he can sleep through the night. I have also used EFT on animals a the shelter I voluteer at. This was a dog who was kept in the back yard and used only for mating. She had no socialization what so ever. When the animal behaviorist, Bobbi Durston, and myself first started working on Freckles, she was restless and paced a lot. After a few rounds of tapping, she went to the toy box that was in the room and chose one of the tennis balls and started asking everyone in the room to roll the ball to her. Bobbi  was grining from ear to ear. She said “this is the first time in Freckles’ life that she has learned to play with a ball”. Two weeks later, Freckles got adopted.

Here is a short video that explains the basis of EFT:

I use this method when I work with clients teaching about  using the Law of Attraction. We can work and find out what the core issue that is holding them back. Maybe they want to have a loving, positive relationship and they keep attracting the same type of person that makes them miserable. What is the subconscious message that is telling my client this is their perfect mate?  Once we find the core issue through one or more rounds of tapping. We can clear it, then use a positive set up phrase to replace the old messages, much like reprogamming a software program, and the issue is gone. How do you know it is gone? You will feel neutral about the core issue and your life experience changes.  So if you are feeling stuck in any part of your life, start tapping. If you would like EFT Coaching, contact me on the “Contact Visions Alchemy” page.

Thinking outside the box in a different way

I hear this phrase , “think outside the box” all the time. So I started thinking, instead of thinking outside the box, why not go inside the box and re-shape it into a shape you like? who says the box is made out of a rigid substance? maybe the box is make of pipe cleaners or clay? It is like being a visionary alchemist. We use things that may not fit in our life and visualize them into something else. Just a thought…

Amy is a happy girl who loves to dress up.

Today I finished my art project for the Humane Society of the North Bay’s Denim and Diamonds Barkitecture fundraiser. What is this. I will go into details in a moment.  The project I created is an 3D  8 X 10 wall hanging . A cat  I named Amy. Amy is wearing a jacket and skirt made of denim to go with the theme. The photo I have included doesn’t really show the 3 dimensions, but it is still cute. My designs will tell me what to name them. Amy was made with watercolor paper,  gold fabric paint, clear rhinestones, 3d scrapbook roses and a touch of decoupage sealant. The frame I got from a thrift store. It was a little weathered, but the frame was well built. I took two coats of Indian Blue acrylic paint and two coats blue glitter paint. I never worked with fabric before or made a jacket or skirt, but for the first time, I am very pleased with her. I really want her to go to a good home.

What is the Barkitecture fundraiser for the Humane Society of the North Bay? It is an annual event in which organizations and individuals build dog houses and cat domicile’s and then they are auctioned off. They also have a silent auction (that is where Amy will be) and people write down their bids. They also have fabulous food and drink.  This is one of the Humane Society’s well attended and successful events, the dream child of the HSNB Director, Peter Wilson. I have known Peter for quite a while. We both met when we worked at Pet Food Express.  If you are in the Vallejo area, please plan on attending. Like I said it is really a lot of fun and a very good cause. For more information go to www.barkitecture.net

Let’s help their voice be heard

Together we can let their voices be heard!

Yes, I am calling all rescue groups to be a part of my concert series. You can talk about your organization, the good work that you do and how we can help our organization. You will receive %40 of the proceeds to generate financial funds to support your Mission Statement.

One of my visions for my CD is to go out into the community all over the country and promote the message of love, dignity and respect for all animals on the planet. I heard the many heartbreaking stories of how animals are misunderstood. That if only the pet parents had stopped to observe their animals body language or taken their pet to a trainer, that many animals would have been able to stay with their people and not ended up in a shelter. Or if people who adopted a certain breed because they liked the way they looked, but didn’t have a clue about the personality traits of the dog, cat or rabbit. Then they decided that they had no time for training, the time and expense of proper grooming, or wellness checks at the vet. They gave up on their pet and took it to a shelter or worse yet, let it run in the wild, thinking that their natural instincts would get them through it.  When I was working for a pet food store in the bay area, I had a customer who got a labrador from a breeder, but she didn’t have time to train the dog, the dog got destructive, so she took it to a shelter. She came into the store to buy things for her new puppy, hoping this time it would work!

I saw many of these dogs and cats that ended up  at the Humane Society of the North Bay . I  worked with Bobbi Durston helping dogs to get over their fear of humans. I observed the body language of perceived aggressive cats and knew that they needed a more gentle voice or patience for them to let them know I was an ok human. That is why I was so grateful to have the opportunity to work with the cats using the Open Paw Program. We saw cats who were normally afraid of a male presence allow a young man to pick her up and take her back to her kennel.

This is why this CD project is so very important to me. I truly believe if we want to bring out awareness and raise the level of understanding and compassion that all humans have. We must be the change. and part of that change is allowing us to focus on the experiences we want to see in the world. We can raise the consciousness of how animals are treated if we focus on the positive results we want to create.

If you want to participate in this wonderful journey to let all animal voices and your organization be heard. Please go to my Contact Visions Alchemy page and let’s make this happen.

We Can Let Their Voice Be Heard

My new CD-This is 10 years in the making!

One of my life long dreams is coming into manifestation. I have recorded a CD to promote peaceful co-existence between all humans and animals. The name of the CD is titled “Let Their Voice Be Heard”. It is a collection of 10 songs. These songs have been written over a 10 year span. This is part of my work as a peaceful animal activist. I have worked with animals at the local humane society for over 5 years. I learned how to use the Emotional Freedom Technique on animals that were shy or fearful. I produce a show on TV called “The Paw Stops Here” that brings awareness to the public how great and amazing animals are and I interview pet parents about their four-legged kids. I have been a volunteer instructor for the Open Paw Program for Cats.  It is training program for animals in the shelter. We teach them that humans are great beings so they feel comfortable around us and show their true personalities so they are adopted quicker.

What I have come to learn from working with animals is they have a tremendous capacity for love-giving and recieving. They communicate with us if we are willing to listen. And we can be surprised when we take the time to observe how they think and process information. I have one cat who uses sign language to tell me when he wants to sit on my lap and when he is hungry. I am meeting more and more pet parents who have feline and canine siblings in the same family and they co-habitate peacefully. My brother, Gabriel has an Australian Shepherd named Tucker who raised a kitten named Madison who is now over 2 years old. There are so many stories out there, I can probably live another 40 years and I still won’t hear them all.

I am using this CD to help raise funds for shelters, rescue groups and organizations that promote peace and wellness for animals. I am going to use the concerts across the country and raise money for these organizations. A percentage of the proceeds from the concert will go back to one of these organizations. I have my first concert coming up in March (I will list the event on my “events” page) If you can’t attend you can still donate something to the organization. I am so grateful that things fell into place the way they did. if you go to the “Botticelli Woman Productions” page, you can hear a sample. I am so grateful. It is true if I am open to my dreams I can “dream” them into manifestation.

Life Creating Life

The art I am focusing on are paper sculptures, I am naming them “Life Pieces”. I call them Life Pieces because I acitvate the crystals and stones to generate the qualities into the art. Right now I have created the symbols of Joy, Empowerment, Wisdom, Protection and Pet Guardian (to watch over your 4-legged kids). Because I work with many animal allies, you not only see the faces of humans but also cat, dog and rabbit faces. I am still learning how to draw canine faces so I use a a photo of a beloved canine, named Loki who made his transition a couple of years ago. When he was in body, I saw him as a power healer and peace maker. Loki’s mom is Bobbi Durston, a very wonderful Animal behaviorist/trainer who works as the training coordinator at the Humane Society of the North Bay.

It can take 3 days to make one piece. It is a process of maintaining patience and grace.  I start by drawing the base. I use watercolor pencils to make the base image:

This is the bottom layer of the Joy Life Piece

The reason it has a glossy appearance is because I apply a coat of a decoupage sealant.  It makes it  easier to use the shape the sun rays with my tools. The face you see is not the top layer. I will photograph the face and then resize it and then print out the design using my inkjet printer.  Down below you can see the layers I use. I don’t use all the pieces, but sometimes I make a mistake in how I cut out the pieces, If I have any left over I can use it for another project.

These are the layers I use to build up the definition of the face. I use adhesive foam squares to put them all together.

Thank you Sony Cybershot, Printmaster Gold and Canon Pixma IP4820 for making my life easier.

After I’ve printed all the pieces then I apply a coat of Decoupage sealant to all the pieces. It takes an hour to dry. This is definitely not an art form if you want instant gratification, but being that I am a multi-tasking person by nature, there are always other things I am working. At the moment I am working on 3 video projects-including producing a new show on the Science of Mind teachings.

Here is an example of the layers used. This is a painted by using my watercolor pencils.

This section is being sealed with a Mod Podge. When they are all dry, then the fun starts. I take my shaping tools and pads and change them in to more of a 3D look. when the layers are put together, I affix them to a background, usually it is painted in acrylics and Mod Podge to give the the Life Piece a more accentuated look. I also use fabric paint to make simulated beads and glitter paint.

After it is put together, I then add the stones. The stones I am using right now to make the “Joy” Life Pieces are Selenite-this stone generates feelings of love and compassion. When it is held, you can feel a gentle stream of energy helping you to relax, giving you feeling of well being; Beryl-this stones helps you to release emotional baggage and point you in the right direction on how to do that; Black Tourmaline-this stone dispels and repels negative energy; Larkivite-this stone accentuates the knowlege to find answers of a spiritual nature or if you are in school. Sometimes I use Kyanite-this is a stone that is a nurturing tranquil stone. When you hold the Kyanite and Black Tourmaline in your non-dominant hand and the Selenite, it is like taking a natural valium.

Closer angleFinished Joy Life Piece

When the piece is finished. I go into my mediation room and do the activation meditation. This is where I invite Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael to activate the qualities of the stones in the art piece. I imagine the person it is going to, to connect with the qualities of the stones too. It is a wonderful feeling for me because I receive the blessings from the angels too. Once it is activated, it becomes a living energy of joy, love and compassion.

I love doing this art. I am doing my spiritual work and feel honored that I can be of service in this way. If you are interested in inviting one of my Life Pieces in to your home, you can email me at:

You can also contact me at: (707) 361-6854
Remember all you have to do is change your vision to change your life.