Paws and paintbrushes: The Spirited Painter raises $1,000 for wolves

Lisa Conley; 239-213-5308

Note: This article has been updated to include the finalized fundraising total. 

The Spirited Painter raised $1,000 for Shy Wolf Sanctuary Education & Experience Center during its "Painting with Wolves" event Friday night.

Cathy Gorman and her two daughters, Catherine and Claire, are the “spirited painters.” The family opened The Spirited Painter studio – which is a ‘sip and play paint shop’ – in the fall of 2015.

Gorman hosted volunteers from Shy Wolf Sanctuary and one of their wolf-dogs, Sable, for the studio's first fundraiser for the sanctuary.

"We're very appreciative whenever members of the community help us with our fundraising mission," Yuliya Vail, Shy Wolf's head of fundraising, said, "especially since we're trying to raise enough money to build a new sanctuary."

The evening began with appetizers and drinks provided by Hoots, and then the 25 participants, a full house, were given the opportunity to interact with Sable and her black lab companion, Phantom.

"Sable had a previous companion who passed away and she was absolutely devastated," Shane Biltz, Sable's owner and Shy Wolf's treasurer, said. "The only thing that calmed her down was Phantom, so now these two are bonded."

"Every time they're separated, they cry," Biltz's wife, Darlene, added.

The reason wolf-dogs often bond with other dogs is because wolves mate for life, so they have a natural tendency to seek out a companion. They also have a very protective personality, and will defend their human owners, whom they consider to be members of their pack.

After the painters played with the pups, Gorman introduced the evening's art instructor, Marco Island Academy art teacher Rob Eder. Eder taught the 25 participants how to paint a wolf howling in front of a wolf moon, or as he called it, a 'spirit wolf.'

Although the event served an important purpose, the most important thing of all was that everybody just have fun.

"We're here to make fun art, not fine art," Gorman said. "I want this to be yours. Once you take that first swipe across the canvas, it's your art, and that's the fun of it."

The Spirited Painter plans on hosting another "Painting with Wolves" fundraiser in the future, for which there is already a waiting list. For more information about The Spirited Painter, visit or call 239-313-0012. For more information about Shy Wolf Sanctuary, visit