Pet Portrait Quilts Rock!

Three pet portrait quilts by Jane Haworth

Almost every quilter I know is wild about something.

Whether it is creating mixed media quilts with cast-off tea bags like artist Libby Williamson, making ice-dyed fabrics in the dead of winter like artist Lynda Heines, or creating intricately stitched masterpieces like Ana Buzzalino. But what about those of us – and yes, I include myself in this group – who love our pets so much we want to immortalize them in cloth?

Let me introduce you to pet-portrait quilt artist Jane Haworth who shares that passion.


“Zeke” • 24" x 25" Pet portrait of a dog

“Zeke” • 24″ x 25″ Photo credit: Photos by hornickrivlin.com

Jane says, “Pets are the loves of our lives. I have seen this firsthand while teaching raw-edge portrait techniques to quilters across the country. However, I always cringe when I admit I have no pets of my own. I’m definitely in the minority! But I did grow up in a melting pot of children, dogs, cats, birds, and guinea pigs, not to mention livestock.”

The pet portrait always starts with a great photo, and the eye is the focal point of all of Jane’s portraits.

The pet portrait always starts with a great photo, and the eye is the focal point of all of Jane’s portraits.

Jane’s pet portrait collage technique feels a lot like working with paper collage because it is intuitive, uses no pre-set pattern pieces, and requires few tools for success. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when you try her technique.

Start with a great photo!

Choosing the right photo makes all the difference.

  • Focus: Use a photo with sharp focus for the best results.
  • Value: Contrast between the dark and light areas of a pet’s face make the process easier. A black dog is much trickier but it can be done.
  • Crop: Remove unnecessary background or body from the image and focus on the animal’s head.
  • Angle: Profiles and turned heads make more interesting compositions.
  • Eyes: These are the focal point of any portrait and are important to get right.
“Marley” 25" x 25"

“Marley” 25″ x 25″

Use fabulous fabrics!

For these pet portraits, exaggerating contrast is key.

  • Use a wide variety of dark, medium, and light fabrics.
  • More variety in fabrics make an exciting composition. Solids, tone-on-tone, batiks, and small prints are all good choices.
  • Fussy cut motifs can add unexpected fun.

Take photos as you go and look at the reduced image on your phone so you can really “see” the composition.

“Tilly” • 21" x 24"

“Tilly” • 21″ x 24″

Use unexpected colors. Check out this portrait, “Tilly”. Most cats aren’t purple, but this composition works so well because of the changes in value. I can almost imagine a purple cat in my future!


Jane and Susan Brubaker Knapp showing her pet portrait art quilts on the set of Quilting Arts TV series 2400 (to be released July 2019).

Jane and Susan Brubaker Knapp showing her pet portrait art quilts on the set of Quilting Arts TV series 2400 (to be released July 2019).

Jane’s quilt is featured on the cover of the April/May 2019 issue of Quilting Arts!

Jane’s quilt is featured on the cover of the April/May 2019 issue of Quilting Arts!

Jane demonstrates two great projects on Quilting Arts TV series 2300, and will share her pet portrait techniques on a future episode of Quilting Arts TV. Can’t wait?

Check out her article in the April/May issue of Quilting Arts magazine. Do you recognize the kitty on the cover?

Best,

Editor, Quilting Arts


 

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