Paper Sculpture Figures by Patty Grazini - Baroque People and Their Pets

Perhaps, like me, you look forward to seeing paper artist Patty Grazini's annual collection of historical figures that she makes entirely of paper. Each November, themed work that Patty has completed during the year is featured in a show at Curtis Steiner in Ballard, Seattle. This year's remarkable assemblage features Baroque people and their pets. I invited Patty to tell us about her impetus for the project as well as a bit about her process... Welcome, Patty!

I have always enjoyed combining my art and with my interest in history and culture. When I started this paper group, I knew that I would create a body of work based around classic paintings of people and their pets.

Dog Paper Sculpture by Patty Grazini 
I started by collecting portraits of people with various animals without narrowing my choices to a certain time period. I soon discovered that there was a particularly large number of these portrait paintings in the 17th and 18th centuries throughout Europe. I loved the costumes from the Baroque period so focused my work in that time period. The connection people felt with their pets was as obvious then as it is now. I decided that I would try to express this sentiment as much as possible in each sculpture.

Dog Paper Sculpture by Patty Grazini - Clothing Detail

This dog and his owner really captured a moment in time for me. I tried to give the dog the same sort of refined haughtiness that the portrait suggested. Making feathers is something I always enjoy. 

Paper Sculpture Baroque Pets by Patty Grazini

The standing figures are 10-12 inches tall without their base, and are accompanied by the portrait that was my inspiration for the work. I completed a group of nine standing figures and a smaller group of six. The smaller group kept the theme by taking elements of the portrait paintings and blending them into small vignettes. It was enjoyable to work on these after spending several months of intense detailing in the larger figures. I wondered who this woman was and why she would have this bird as her pet. I loved her hat too.

Black Bird Paper Sculpture by Patty Grazini

I often feel challenged when starting a new project with so many small details to consider. It is a complicated task of how to replicate in paper, a two-dimensional person or object into three dimensions. The largest challenge with this group was to create the illusion that the central figure has left the painting and reappeared with the pet's head.

Sheep Paper Sculpture by Patty Grazini

I wanted to blend the animal’s and the owner’s personalities in a way that captures the mood that the painting created for me. Once the head and body were completed I worked on the clothing. It was rarely possible to find paper that was the exact color or pattern as in the painting, so I often dyed, and sometimes hand-drew, patterns on the paper that I used. With this group almost every piece of paper was dyed to match the fabric in the painting.

Sheep Paper Sculpture by Patty Grazini - Face Detail

When I found the lovely portrait that inspired this sheep figure, I knew right away I wanted to recreate her. Many of the portraits I found were unattributed. Happily, this painting was the work of Marianne Loir, a woman portrait painter. I was immediately excited about the prospect of making all the tiny flowers and her beautiful dress.

Sheep Paper Sculpture by Patty Grazini - Clothing Detail

This particular dog really challenged me. It was hard to recreate the dress in paper as it is very wide... I needed to make a strong base and foundation to hold the shape and still make it look like fabric.

Dog Paper Sculpture in Wide Skirt by Patty Grazini

The head covering was also a bit of a mystery to me. I couldn't see it from the back, so I wasn't exactly sure how to construct it. I decided to make it a snood with tiny pompoms.

Dog Paper Sculpture in Wide Skirt by Patty Grazini - Detail

I couldn't pass up this elegant beauty with her very interesting hat!

Dog Paper Sculpture with Black Hat by Patty Grazini

Patty Grazini is on Instagram and Facebook.

Paper Sculpture Dog by Patty Grazini
photo credit: Curtis Steiner

Ann Martin
Ann Martin

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  1. Thank you for featuring her work. I am very fortunate to be able to go and see her work in person right in my own neighborhood. That visit is always the highlight of my Christmas season activities :)

  2. Wow !!! these are fabulous...BTW Anne, glad you are back, have been enjoying all your recent posts. The one on slotted tools was very informative...thanks for all the great things you share.

  3. Hi Karin, lucky you living nearby! I visited Ballard last spring, but the gallery was closed the day I was there. I peeked in the windows though and was able to spot a few of Patty's figures... it was fantastic to see them in person.

  4. Aw thanks Cate! I appreciate your comment ever so much.

  5. Wow! These are some fantastic piece of paper art! It is amazing to know that people drive their inspiration from unusual things!

  6. I'm glad you enjoyed the post, Avni, and I agree with you!

  7. It is amazing, thank you for sharing this beautiful article so that more people can enjoy it.

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it, Edna... thanks for your comment.


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