Art Place

365 Art a Day Project, Classes and Blog by Gisèle Grenier

How to photograph your cat for a pet portrait

Chaos Posing for a Pet Portrait

I am constantly being asked what are my best techniques for how to photograph your pet in preparation to do a painting or drawing.  I’ve put together my best tips for you!

Camera Setting

  • Photos should be taken at the highest quality setting.
  • The camera should also be set for the appropriate lighting.
  • Many automatic cameras do this for you, but you should check your camera documentation for the camera settings just in case.


  • If your pet is very light or very dark in colour, that can be a challenge. Use natural outdoor light to create beautiful background contrasts.
  • A light coloured pet photographed against a nice dark wood fence, wall or tree adds nice contrast.
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Here is a very small sampling of the pet portraits I’ve completed in the last few years as commissions and teaching pieces.  You’ll find pet portraits in acrylics, oils, graphite and some mixed media.

sketching in the kitchenSitting in the kitchen, bored watching food cooking that couldn’t be unattended and all I really wanted to do was draw.  I had my little 2.5 x 3.5 art journal handy and some markers so why not do some sketching in the kitchen!  I couldn’t go into the studio, so I went with that.  In my art journal, I did a whole bunch of monoprinting yesterday, so the pages are all full of colour.  I eyed my stainless steel toaster and sketched it so quickly to get the sketchy lines, bold shapes and didn’t worry about perspective.  Then I eyed my teal summer glass on the counter, filled with water, but the way the light hit the class, it reflected some really cool shapes, so I quickly sketched that using a bold green marker.  In total, I think the sketches took about a minute.  I think I’ll continue doing this while cooking meals!

How to Create a Gelatin Monoprint using a Die Cut

Gelatin MonoprintI absolutely love gelatin monoprinting.  I have a Gelli plate, but decided to try making one using Glycerin, Knox Gelatin, sugar and water.  First off, I’ll never use sugar again, it made the plate very sticky.  Will try a different recipe next time.

For this gelatin monoprint, I did a soft mottled background direct on the gelatin plate using a few dots of DecoArt Media Fluid acrylics using Dioxazine Purple and rolled it our very roughly then sprinkled some water on the gelatin plate.  Then placed a die cut on the gelatin plate and carefully pressed my book paper.

Where I sprinkled the water, the paint was much more transparent and mottled.  This is a really easy technique to create interesting and unique backgrounds for journal pages, altered books, junk journals or as a base for any type of art piece.

Love the look!.  The print took about 4 minutes to dry.

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