When painter Mark Barone and his partner Marina Dervan began searching for a new dog to adopt last year, it took only a little background research for the couple to come to the realization of how many hounds are put down in the shelter system each and every day—the number is close to 5,500. So, vying to make a change through awareness, Barone took that number and committed to painting 5,500 portraits of dogs about to be destroyed.

Barone paints 10 dogs a day, every day, each one a square-foot in size. When the project is complete, it will be exactly half the area of the Sistine Chapel ceiling. The couple sources the images from shelter websites before Barone puts the pooches to canvas. When the project is complete--Barone still has about 2,000 dogs left to paint--the pair hopes to open a musuem that will house all the paintings, rather than try and sell them.

Check out some of these sad and beautiful paintings above and learn more about the project here.

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[via Fast Company]