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In Art

By Lane

DIY Pet Portrait

On 09, Apr 2014 | No Comments | In Art, Dogs | By Lane

A version of this post originally appeared on the Dwell with Dignity blog.

I’ve discovered a way to let anyone who enters my home see who’s really in charge: hang a large portrait of my dog above the fireplace mantle.

A few weeks ago, I decided to sign up for a class to learn the basics. I took along my boyfriend, who hasn’t touched a paintbrush since elementary school. And yet, look at the masterpieces we created!


With just a few simple supplies and not much artistic skill, your living or dining room art can be taken a little less seriously.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  1. Photo that clearly shows your pet’s face, laser printed in black & white on 8.5″ x 11″ paper
  2. 8″x 10″ stretched canvas
  3. Gel medium
  4. Acrylic paint
  5. Two paintbrushes, large and small

First, carefully cut out your pet from the background of the black & white photo.

Next, follow these steps from the craft masters at A Beautiful Mess to transfer your photo onto your canvas.

Now you’re ready to paint!


Begin with a bright colored background to really make your pet stand out. Have your original photo in front of you as a guide for your pet’s coloring. Using your large brush, start with the lightest areas and apply paint liberally to cover the photo. Go to the next darkest area, mixing a bit of a darker color (like brown) to create the darker hue.


Continue to add a darker color each time, filling in the next area with a darker shade until your pet is complete. Think about filling in large areas, and don’t worry about trying to paint exact details. Approximate the color by squinting your eyes, taking a step back, and seeing if it looks right. Remember, with acrylic paint, you can always let it dry and paint right over it! The last step is to use your small brush to paint the eyes and nose. Pay special attention to detail here — these areas really define your pet’s personality. Finally, paint the edges of your canvas and leave it to dry 1-2 hours.


Hang your pet portrait in a formal space for full effect.

Want more DIY art ideas? Check out the Dwell with Dignity blog.


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