Creating Pet Portraits Using the Art of Collage

Many people love to take photographs of their animals, have their pets photographed, or commission an artist to paint a pet portrait from photographs. These are all beautiful ways to create lasting memories of a cherished companion. Having those photographs turned into a unique piece of art takes it all to another level. To accomplish this, I use the art of collage, the technique of cutting small pieces of paper and using them to create a whole new image. And you don’t even have to be a great artist to do it, if you don’t mind getting a bit of an abstract piece in the end.

I like to work from photographs and create my pieces on canvas, but if you are a beginner or don’t have confidence in your artistic abilities, you can take your own photographs, print them out, and then cut and paste pieces of paper over the top of the photograph. The photograph disappears under the emerging work of art. I’ve used that technique with young students who have created some amazing pieces.

With collage, you really can’t make a mistake either, because all you have to do is cut out more pieces of paper and glue them over the mistake. One of the things that I find beautiful about collage is the way that the pieces of paper overlap, creating texture and raised surfaces in the work. You can use any type of paper, but I like to use the paper from high-quality, glossy magazines like National Geographic and Arizona Highways.

The beauty of collage is that you really can use so many different styles and materials. Try adding beads or feathers. I personally like to create realistic images that show you the spirit of an individual animal, but if you really want to go wild, you can try a fun technique called cubomania. Take your photograph, cut it up into small squares and randomly glue the pieces back together. You may not get an actual picture of your pet, but you get a pretty cool piece of art!

When you finish your work of art, you will have to seal the surface and let it cure (completely dry) before framing. I use varnish, added in many layers (drying completely between each layer). The more layers, the more your picture will pop. However, if you don’t want to get fancy, you can just use white glue. To avoid permanent clouding, don’t overbrush. Just brush across once, slightly overlapping the sealant, and let it dry and clear on its own.

A pet portrait made in collage makes a one-of-a-kind gift unlike any other, creating a forever memory of your pet. Of course, collage can be used to create any image, but you want to create something that you love. My passion is animals, so that’s where my creativity takes me.