Want to record your beloved pet's likeness in a work of art?
There are many unusual options, from artfully designed throw pillows to stained glass, metalwork and paintings. Your pet's adorable face could adorn holiday ornaments, glass stemware, ceramics, jewelry, rock art — even a spoon or a phone case.
Just a sampling of what's available:
In the small fishing port of Brixham, England, Karen McIntosh assembles digital caricatures of pets. "I am a real fan of the dark, moody images of the Old Masters, and love recreating this ambience in my work," she says. She blends images and adds shadows and brush strokes in Photoshop for a painterly feel to works printed on high-quality matte paper. "It's so much fun creating the composition around an animal's expression or breed, and I welcome a challenge," says McIntosh, who has made portraits of llamas, mice and horses in addition to many dogs and cats. (www.etsy.com/shop/YourPetsPawtraits )
Lisa Manzo of Plainfield, Illinois, uses high-gloss paints on galvanized steel — a modern-looking canvas — to create colorfully stylized pet portraits. She fills in her black outlines with a vibrant, fluid paint. The combination lends dimension. "(With) some of my works, you really have to take a step back to realize what it is," says Manzo. "I love the fact that the viewer needs to use their imagination to put it together. I think art should make you go, 'Mmm, how cool.'" (www.etsy.com/shop/DropMyPaintsStudio )
Sebnem Ergun's story begins with a stray cat she found near her home in Istanbul, Turkey. The animal's courage gave Ergun the strength to quit her day job to paint — first on stones and porcelain but now on cotton fabric finished into pillows. She has mailed her custom-order artwork to customers around the world. "Painting, especially painting pets and animals, is like meditation for me," Ergun says. "I feel my inner joy and peace while painting their unique beauties." (www.shebbodesign.etsy.com )
In Hartlepool, England, textiles instructor Diane Watson uses applique, embroidery and pops of vintage fabric color to fashion a pet's image onto linen that becomes a pillow. She began by embroidering a portrait of her brother's dog, and has since made hundreds of custom-order pillows, of guinea pigs and goats as well as the usual dogs and cats. "I love animals and have my own pets — a grumpy cat and a friendly greyhound. There's so much diversity with animals, and they mean a lot to people," she says. (www.etsy.com/shop/NaughtyDOG2 )
Kathy Halper of Highland Park, Illinois, is a painter who recently began embroidering pet portraits framed in embroidery hoops or stretched over square forms. "Embroidery has always been considered a craft, (but) I approach it as an equal, contemporary art form," Halper says. "The excitement for me is creating the painting experience with thread." (www.kathyhalper.com )
Suzanne Ellenbogen of Golden, Colorado, was creating ceramic jewelry and sculpture when she began sculpting animal heads, starting with her two Goldendoodles, Fred and Ginger. Commissioned work soon followed. "I love that a piece starts as a mound of clay, never knowing exactly what it will be until I start forming it, then adding texture and color," she says. (www.suzellenbogen.com )
Glass pieces lend vibrancy to Suzanne Coverett Earls' pet portraits. "Glass enables me to bring the realistic sparkle and depth to the eyes of my furry subjects," she says from her rural home near Brantford, Ontario. Earls tries to capture each animal's quirks and personality in custom-order pieces using hand-cut stained glass. (www.etsy.com/shop/PiecefulArts )
Dadra Hunt of Scottsdale, Arizona, welds metal pet portraits out of steel. Working from a photograph, she draws on and hand-cuts 16-gauge steel, layering and bending the steel before welding it. Pieces are colored using stains, heat or paint. "I have worked with a lot of mediums but metal art resonates with me the most," says Hunt. "It's exciting to take something so seemingly hard and impassive and find the character within." (www.dhseadragon.com/index.html )