Paper Collage Artist Esther Finch

Every now and then, discovering and featuring one paper artist will lead me to another... that's exactly what happened in the case of today's artist, Esther Finch. You might remember Rogene Manas whose paper clay art was spotlighted a few weeks ago, and also that she was in the midst of readying new work for a group exhibit, The Art of Bricolage, in Eugene, Oregon. Collages made by Esther are included in the show... I can't wait for you to meet her and see her fine work! 


close up collage image of tan dog with black ears wearing striped collar


Welcome, Esther... tell us about yourself:


I grew up in a crafting family in Eugene, Oregon. We tried all sorts of things in the 1960s and 70s as a family: macrame, beading, decoupage, stained glass, paper making, etc. I came to realize that I loved working with paper best and made it my medium of choice. I am a completely self-taught artist. The first pieces I sold were hand-cut silhouettes.


hedgehog paper collage with grass and floral background

Initially I worked as a health professional in my community before developing fibromyalgia and two autoimmune diseases. Now I work from home with my beloved golden-doodle, Murphy, at my side, making pet portraits on commission. About one third of my portraits are memorials of pets who have died. I stay busy with my art and I love it!


small, furry, black dog seated on couch behind collage portrait of itself

What led to your becoming a paper collage artist?


About fifteen years ago I saw some collage animal portraits and decided to try making my own. At first, I cut paper with scissors and then began tearing it, as I like the softer appearance the torn edges provide. I keep experimenting and have developed a personal style. 


side by side close up images of cat and paper collage version of cat


Tell us about your work that is in The Art of Bricolage show at Maude Kearns Art Center.


The Bricolage show is my first time exhibiting in a gallery. Because it features art created with recycled/upcycled materials, I chose pre-used canvases along with a mixture of magazine pages, brown paper bags, and scraps from other projects to create a number of pieces. These two birds, my interpretation of Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring, and the floral mirror are included.


paper collage of blue, black, and white parrot and flowers


floral collaged rendition of Girl with a Pearl Earring painting


paper collage of black and white bird on branch with leaves and butterfly


rectangular floral paper collage mirror in narrow black frame

Your use of fibrous mulberry paper truly gives a realistic look to your animal portraits.


With mulberry paper, I’m mostly tearing it to reveal the “furry” edges that make wonderful fur at the outer edges of the body and the fur hanging over a collar, etc. I love its richness for backgrounds as well. For whiskers and the fur of fluffy white dogs, I’ve found some papers with lots of long white fibers that I pull out one by one. 


small, white, and shaggy dog sitting next to collage portrait of itself


What else would you like to share about your art and collage process?   

Something that doesn’t translate well in photos is that I make certain parts of animals 3-D. For this I use packing foam that comes in packages, building it up before I start the face. 

My process is to make anything I want 3-D with foam, then I do the background, eyes and nose, and start layering the fur. It’s really important to me to do the pet's eyes first because then the animal looks real to me. I think of each one by name as I work. I have a supply of dental tools that allow me to work with gluey pieces of paper and not have them stick to my hands. 
I loved growing up surrounded by makers, and art continues to feed my soul! 
torn paper collage of German shepherd K9 police dog with badge and map paper backgroun
Esther Finch is on Facebook and Instagram. She can also be contacted about creating commissioned art via email: jjashave at The Art of Bricolage is open through March 22, 2024. Artwork included in the show can be purchased online via the Maude Kerns Art Center website.



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Ann Martin
Ann Martin

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  1. Wow, I loved reading about Esther's paper art and the process. Those dental instructions sound like they could be handy when quilling! Such original and clever portraits. Must be fantastic to visit Esther's show, Art of Bricolage at the Maude Kerns Art centre and see her art up close.


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