So sometimes when I paint I have curious animal friends who come over and try to get involved and will almost invariably get paint on them, sometimes on their paws and then they leave little paint paw prints all over the place. I have seen people make pawprint art by painting their pet's paw with a brush and then stamping it on a piece of paper, but I knew that I would never get my dog to be ok with that. An idea hit me: just let him walk on the paint and do it himself!
And so I did.
So the following supplies will be needed:
1. Pet safe paint.
After extensive research into types of pet safe paints, I decided to use Crayola Tempera paint. It is a non-toxic, water-based, washable paint that comes in a huge variety of colors. I knew that I would only be letting my dog get it on his paws and then I would be washing it right off, so he would have no ill side-effects (most side-effects from paint for pets comes from eating it or inhaling the fumes of common household paints or oil-based paints that contain harmful solvents). As a note: Always do your research before applying anything to your pets!
2. Large sheet of paper.
I had a large paper roll around the house, but you could use any size of paper. I wanted it to be large so it would cover a big space and because my dog is a large dog.
4. Bricks or some other heavy object to hold your paper in place.
5. A water source waiting nearby
I used a hose and my dog's swimming pool to clean him off right after we were finished painting.
6. A spray sealent
I am using Kyrlon UV Archival Spray in Matte
7. A frame (size will depend on the size of your finished product)
8. A pet! (The most important part of this project!)
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Step 1: Supplies
Step 2: Prepping the Canvas
I would advise that you undertake this project on a day that is not windy so you can work outside. If you have an inside pet and can cover enough area to protect your floor then the weather will not affect this project. I also think you should wear old clothes you don't care about because even though the paint is washable you never know!
So what I did first was to unroll two large sections of white paper on my concrete porch. I apologize because I did not measure what size I used, but you will just want enough paper for you to get several prints and to protect your work surface. The work surface should be flat. Since the paint I was using was washable, I wasn't too worried about it, but it made less mess for me to cover up as much as I could.
After placing the weights on the corners of the paper, you have completed "stretching" your canvas!
Next, grab the paint. Now, as I said, I researched this extensively to find out what paints were ok to use for this. Real Milk paint would have been better, but the only "milk paint" that was available to me wasn't real milk paint, so I couldn't use that. NEVER use regular house paint with your pets, or any oil-based paints. Also, even if a paint says it is non-toxic for humans, it might not be for pets. From my research, tempera paint seems to be ok for short-term exposure, but don't let your pet eat it! (P.S: that will be a bigger problem for you cat owners!)
So take your paint (I am using black and blue) and squirt or paint two thick lines of paint on either end of the paper. That way your pet will walk across the wet paint from one side to the other.
*Now, if I were to repeat this, I would leave a larger unpainted section before the end of the paper so that my pet had room to turn around. I didn't think about that, and, sure enough, had my dog turning around with paint paws on the concrete!
And we are ready for the master himself!
Step 3: Let the Artist Work.....With Some Help!
So now you bring out the artist, um, pet, um....
At first I told my dog to sit at one end of the paper and I walked to the other end of the paper and told him to come to me, but that didn't work very well. He was a bit too excited to listen to me, so then I just walked in front of him across the paper while giving him a treat every once in a while. That worked a lot better, though it could be a bit difficult to try and make sure he actually walked in the paint instead of over it. We made several passes and then he got bored.
So then we jumped in his little pool to wash off the paint, but after that we ended up just playing with the water and the hose. He had a grand time.
Step 4: Clean Up Time
After you have finished cleaning up your pet, clean up your work area. Remove the painted paper and place it somewhere safe while you wash off any stray paint. I was really pleased that the tempera paint came off of both my dog and the porch very well. I just washed the porch off with the hose set on a powerful spray and that was that!
I placed my papers in the yard to dry. I had to weigh them down with bricks, but the wind had picked up by then so it was still kinda tough. Tempera paint dries quickly, though, so I didn't have to leave them very long.
Step 5: Picking a Print
Once the paint has dried it is time to see what you got. I had several pretty good prints. Obviously none of them are perfect, but I didn't think they would be! I had many that looked pretty complete and cute/cool, so I was pleased. I actually thought that we were not getting very many good prints while we did it, but I changed my mind after I actually looked at them.
One thing that I decided is that the black just turned out way better than the blue. I don't know if that was the paint or what. Colors are cool, but black can go with anything!
The clarity of the prints will partially depend on how much fur your pet has on its paws. My dog has about medium-length fur and you can see it on the prints, but I think it looks really awesome. If you have ever seen a tracking tunnel (or a footprint tunnel, mammal footprint tunnel, etc.), the fur shows up on the paw prints taken in those, too. Another thing that I thought was cool was that you can see the texture of my dog's paw pads in the prints.
After you have looked at your results and decided which ones to keep, cut them out with scissors. Throw the rest of the paper away or use it for scrap paper (because that tends to come in handy).
Step 6: Sealing the Artwork
Take the papers outside and spray them with a sealant. A brush-on sealer would not be a good choice because tempera paint is washable, so you would just smear it. I am using Krylon UV Archival Spray, so it is used just like any other type of spray paint/sealant. Make sure to do this in a well ventilated area and away from your pets. You don't need to breath this stuff and your pets don't either.
Give it several coats, allowing it to dry between coats.
Step 7: Trim to Frame
I find the easiest way to trim a piece to fit a frame is to place the glass (or plastic) over top the piece that I want to frame and marking a line with a pen/pencil along the edge of the glass. Then I simply cut the paper with scissors. After that, put your piece in its frame.
* I also wrote my dog's name and the year on the piece for historical reference (and for when he becomes a big star)
Step 8: FINISHED MASTERPIECE!
Your piece is now ready to be displayed proudly on your wall!
I will say that I think this turned out better than I thought it would. I knew that I could never get my dog to be ok with my painting his paws with a brush, so this was a better alternative for me. For curiosity's sake and to see if I would get a better print, I did try to paint his paw and stamp it on a piece of paper. I never got to stamp it. When I tried to paint his paw he said, "Nope." So that was that.
For you cat owners out there, I also tried this with my cat. She can be a bit prissy, but I had wet paint still on the end of my paper, so I thought I would give it a try. Ha ha, that did not work at all! I knew that I could never tempt her to walk across the paper, so I had to try the stamping method. She got paint all over me and herself, so I was glad that I was wearing old clothes! Then she got a bath, which didn't make her happy, but she had been needing one anyway. The motto of this story is: if your cat is prissy and bossy you will probably never get a good paw print from them! If your cat is agreeable, like some cats I have had, you could probably do this with them. Or you could just put your paint on your paper and act as if it is super important but don't invite your cat to come play with it. The cat will eventually get jealous and have to walk all over it and you will get some paw prints! By the way, cat owners will have to be more vigilant about their cat possibly ingesting paint. As we all know, cats are kinda fastidious about grooming, so they are much more likely to eat paint on their fur than a dog is. Wash it off!
Treats and encouragement go a long way, but if your pet doesn't like it at all, don't push it. Be considerate. Don't force them to do something that they don't want to do (unless that is go to the vet ;)
Another note: I have no idea if you can do this with birds. Personally, I would not encourage it. Birds are extremely sensitive animals and have very sensitive respiratory systems, so there is probably no paint out there that would be ok for them. If you are a bird owner and really want to do something like this , speak to a vet who is very knowledgeable about birds.
The same goes for hamsters or other little rodent pets. I only researched this for cats and dogs. Do your research and ask someone knowledgeable.
You could frame this in any kind of frame you want. I used a poster frame for this one because it was so big. You could make a frame with your pet's picture next to a paw print (which would be really cute and I want to do that but I don't have a printed photo right now), or you could scan a print into your computer and make a paw print wallpaper by repeating the image over and over and then use it for a background behind a photo. I think the possibilities of how to use this are huge. Greeting cards. DIY wrapping paper. Take it to a tattoo artist and get a tattoo. Have it scanned and printed on a vinyl window sticker for your vehicle.
I keep coming up with ideas for this and I hope that you do, too! Most of all, have a good time with your furry friend!
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