Tahoe artist raises money for wildlife care

Laney Griffo

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — A South Lake Tahoe artist gets her inspiration from wildlife, and in return, she gives back to them with the proceeds from her sales.

Debbie Griest

Debbie Griest taught business and finance at Lake Tahoe Community College for 14 years before deciding to pursue art.

She received a Fine Arts degree from San Jose State University and began practicing her art full-time in Monterey for 15 years. In 2019, she returned to South Lake to continue her art.

Griest specializes in watercolor and oil painting and she draws her inspiration from wildlife and nature. She’s always given back to the animals in her communities with 50% of her sales going to Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care.

“That’s nice but it wasn’t really enough for what I wanted to do to help animals, so I’ve also donated artwork to a lot of organizations for their fundraising,” Griest said.

Then, last summer, she was looking at Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care’s Instagram. All the animals she saw were cute but Quincy the bear really stood out to her.

He was a young black bear that had been hit by a car and left on the side of the road. A couple realized he was still alive and LTWC nursed him back to health. He has thrived and was released back into the wild.

“Quincy was so cute and I just had to paint him,” Griest said.

Quincy’s story stood out to Griest and she knew she had to paint him. (Provided)

She painted him using pictures from their Instagram.

“Since it’s not my property, I thought well maybe they could use this painting,” Griest added.

She donated the painting to LTWC and since then has been painting their rescued animals.

Griest paints a 12×12 oil painting using palette knives of one of their animals, which she donates to LTWC. They auction that piece off every month and 100% of the proceeds go to LTWC.

She also creates 7×7 matted prints of the original and five-card sets that are all limited edition. On the back of all the prints, she includes the story of the animal.

Griest donates the original prints to LTWC, as well as 100% of proceeds from prints and cards. (Provided / Debbie Griest)

“So, whoever buys these knows and can also be reminded of the story of the actual animals and all the proceeds go to the animals at the center,” Griest said.

In addition to the work Griest does for LTWC, she is also featured in Emanate Gallery in South Lake Tahoe and half of the proceeds from pieces sold there go to LTWC. She has art featured in galleries in Monterey and half of the proceeds from those sales go to the Marine Mammal Center.

“I feel like that’s a really good match for me because I’m using my art and helping with the care of the animals,” Griest said.

With all the new babies LTWC have received this summer, Griest said she’s got her work cut out for her. But she said she’s okay with that because the animals are all so cute.

To purchase any of her LTWC animal pieces, visit

To see Griest’s art, visit

Griest uses pictures LTWC posts online as inspiration. (Provided / Debbie Griest)

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