A local artist is using painting as a way to raise money to help wildlife in Australia affected by the ongoing wildfires ravaging the country.

According to a Jan. 11 Asso­ciated Press article, the fire crisis in Australia has killed at least 26 people, destroyed more than 2,000 homes and scorched an area larger than the state of Indiana since September.

In addition, a Jan. 13 CNN article stated about half a billion animals have been affected by the fires across New South Wales, a southeastern Australian state, with millions likely dead. The report said that number of total animals affected could be as high as one billion nationwide.

Instructor Carrie William­son of Bowerbird Painting is hosting a painting party at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Flywheel Brewing in Elizabethtown with proceeds going to the Australian Zoo Wildlife Warriors. The cost is $40.

The Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors, formerly known as the Steve Irwin Conservation Foundation, was established in 2002 by Steve and Terri Irwin “as a way to include and involve other caring people in the protection of injured, threatened or endangered wildlife — from the individual animal to an entire species.”

“Steve Irwin is one of my heroes,” Williamson said. “He’s the only person I’ve ever seen to fully express the same excitement as I do about all animals. I love what he stood for and love his family, whom continues his loving mission in his stead.”

At Christmas, Williamson said her brother and his family donated in her honor to the organization. She said the gesture deeply touched her heart.

“After seeing what the organization has done and continues to do for the wildlife in the flames engulfing Australia, I knew I wanted to do more to help,” she said.

Williamson said Flywheel Brewing can comfortably accommodate about 30 people for the painting party. People interested can sign up anytime before the party by going to Bowerbird Painting on Facebook and commenting they wish to attend on the painting party post.

Williamson said new artists can expect a laid-back approach to painting, much like Bob Ross, who she said is another one of her heroes. She said she even draws out a stencil so the artist can trace the design if they are intimidated by freehand drawing.

“It’s a lot of fun,” she said.

Mary Alford can be reached at 270-505-1741 or malford@thenewsenterprise.com.

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