Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Learn how to make great pet portraits with Faith Cleary

My friend Faith Cleary’s new DVD/digital download with Quilting Arts is now out! It’s called “Pet Picture Quilts Made Easy,” and on it, Faith teaches how to take a photo of your pet and recreate it as a piece of art. She shows how to add texture, dimension, and fun backgrounds using fabric, batting and thread. Faith spends time talking about how to choose the right photo, as well as the fabrics and threads that will make your piece look the most realistic. Then she shows how to add the eyes, nose, and fur, and demonstrates how to thread sketch to accent your pet’s features.

I think Faith’s work is so charming! Take a look at what she did here, starting with this cute kitty photo:

This is the finished piece based on that photo:

“Monte Hall” is set in an antique window frame
Obviously, Faith is a big animal lover! Here she is with her dog Barkley at a Blessing of the Animals at her church:

I asked Faith to share a little bit about herself and her art.
Q. I imagine that you must be a pet lover. Have animals always been a big part of your life? What animals share your home now? 
A.  I grew up with dogs and love them. Being the mom of two curious boys, I have had guinea pigs, rabbits, turtles, hamsters and cats. Currently, I live with three labradors (Dash, Waggles and Tulip) and a french bulldog (Barkley). In fact, I wrote about Barkley in my pet column, “Paws and Effect” in the summer 2011 issue of Studios magazine. He is quite a clown! 

Q. Can you explain a little bit about your technique?  
A. I do thread sketched pet portraits. I use an appliqué technique for the animal's features and body. Then I thread sketch over the appliqué pieces to create realistic fur and facial expressions. It is a simple technique to learn with amazing results! 

Q. Do you teach or speak at guilds or shops? If so, where can people take your classes in person?  
A. Yes. I love teaching for guilds and quilt shops. It is great fun to hear stories about
people's pets and then to see the pet come to life with thread sketching is very gratifying! To contact me for teaching availability, please go to 

Q. The backgrounds on some of your portraits are so fun! Why do you add these? 
A. I like to think of backgrounds as the place to tell your pet's story. It is the place to be creative and have a blast. I also love showing people how to embellish, frame and finish their pieces. There are so many unique possibilities - for example, I framed a cat in an antique church window frame - it is one of my favorite pieces. 

Sexy Beast Cologne Model

Q. If you had to give your students one piece of advice about making a portrait of their pet, what would it be?  
A. When making a portrait of a pet, the eyes are the critical element that brings life to the animal. The eyes are simple to do, but it is imperative to get the highlights just right.

You can see a bit of Faith’s DVD here:

Donna Downey’s “Inspired Artist Workshop”

Donna Downey hams it up for the camera
I needed a little get-away today, so I went with some friends to Donna Downey’s “Inspired Artist Workshop” in Concord, near Charlotte, N.C.  Inspired is a four-day immersion in cross-genre art and crafting. Students get three full days of workshops. Featured artist instructors are Tracie Lampe, Lolly Chessie, Suzi Blu, Patriciaa Baldwin Seggebruch, Becky Nunn and Alisa Burke. My friend Susan Edmonson is teaching some workshops, too!

Donna’s display
I didn’t have time to attend the workshop; I just went to shop! Donna had some of the stuff she sells at her shop set up in a beautiful display. And at the Market Fair, there were eight more vendors offering a great variety of mixed media supplies.

Donna’s darling little purses
May 11-14
Embassy Suites
5400 John Q. Hammons Drive NW
Concord NC, North Carolina 28027

501 South Old Statesville Road
Huntersville, NC 28078