Isla is no longer a puppy, but what an absolutely perfect choice of a reference in this photo from her puppyhood!


I began by sketching Isla with a light coloured pastel pencil, aiming to capture her movement. With three of her paws on the ground this was more difficult, so I made sure to bring attention to her floppy ears flying behind her.


Once I was happy with the sketch, I then added some layers of ivory coloured pastel pencil to ensure a smooth base, then I began to add detail.

Usually, I add areas of colour on a subject then fill in the fine detail slowly. Isla’s portrait was an exception however as I wanted to capture the sense of perspective as she is approaching. I saw her head and front paws as the main drawing, and her body and rear paws almost as a background. I added detail to her face before anywhere else as a reference of how much detail to add to the rest of her body.FullSizeRender (2)

Once I was happy with the level of detail, I could then go on to add in her puppy wrinkles, floppy ears and giant puppy paws.


The finished portrait. Faber Castell pastel pencil and Unison soft pastel on Daley Rowney Ingres Pastel Paper, measuring 12″ x 10″ / 30 x 25cm.

Untitled design (70)

Thanks for reading! Isla’s portrait is also available as a print, with 10% of each one sold being donated to German Shorthaired Pointer Rescue UK. You can buy a copy here:

Tawny Owl Collection



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 “Isla

  1. Really interesting to read how yo u make the magic happen. Am a huge fan of your work and very jealous. For someone who can only draw a stickman I am very impressed. Great work.


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