It can be difficult to decide whether or not to include a background when commissioning a painting or drawing. Here are five different background options.

Bella was having such a peaceful moment in her reference photograph that I didn’t want to disturb¬†her portrait with too much of a noisy background. I opted for just enough of the sofa to give some context to her pose.
Sometimes the scenery is so stunning it has to be included! I didn’t include the large rock in the foreground as I thought it took too much focus away from Juta
I can only imagine how hectic and bustling their wedding day was, so I think omitting any background helped to capture this moment between them.
Poppy’s reference photo showed her bursting out from this heather, and I couldn’t imagine this portrait without the colour and vibrancy of the background.
Beautiful Grace’s reference photograph was taken at a very special moment, about the time of her final goodbyes. The background in her reference photograph was a medical setting and unsuitable, but rather than add a different background I thought she should be the sole focus of the portrait.

All art in this post was created with Faber Castell pastel pencils and Unison soft pastel on Daler Rowney Ingres paper by Gillian Ussher between 2014 and 2016. (1).jpg


Published by gillianussherart

I am a pet and wildlife artist, originally from Ireland but now based in Frome, England with my husband and children, two rescue dogs Rua the Hungarian Vizsla and Ogie the blind terrier, and Jet the cat. I take commissions for pet portraits and draw original animal art, most of which is sold as fine art prints and art cards. I also teach others how to draw through online classes and short courses available through my website. I have been working as a full time artist for many years, and have fulfilled hundreds of pet portrait commissions. My client base is international, and I ship worldwide for free. My work has been featured in publications such as Dogs Today Magazine, Dogs Monthly, The Guardian, Talented Ladies Club and Country Living Magazine. I support animal charities whenever I can, by regularly donating art to various rescue group fundraisers, donating 20% of income from prints to various breed specific rescues and providing wildlife rescues and rehabilitations centres with original art to fundraise and create merchandise. If you are interested in purchasing or commissioning art, or if you just want to connect, you can contact

2 thoughts on “Backgrounds

  1. It warms my heart every time I see you post a portrait of Gracie. You did such an outstanding piece of art from a very sad time in her life yet you caught the contentment and resilience in her eyes. I know that Gene and Jane are comforted every time they pass her in their living room. You brought sweetness back into their lives. I’m so happy not only that God gave you such an amazing gift but that you chose to use that gift to bring joy into the lives of your customers. You truly are an ‘EarthAngel’. I love you AND your works of arts. Always Your Friend in Wisconsin, db


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