I had planned to paint this jaguar in oils, but in the end I decided pastels would be best to capture the soft fur and wisps of hair.

I wanted to be sure to capture the richness of such a beautifully coloured coat in warm jungle lighting, without compromising on detail. As this is the first big cat I have even painted or drawn, I found myself working in small areas at a time, rather than building the whole drawing up at once.


Once I was happy I had achieved a balance of depth of colour and detail, I felt confident enough to start working on larger areas, building up layers of pastel pencil as I went.


I hadn’t planned to add a background, but once I was finished he seemed very out of place without a hint of jungle undergrowth behind him!

‘Jaguar’ Pastel, 12″ x 12″ / 30 x 30cm 2018 by Gillian Ussher

For this drawing I used Faber Castell Pitt Pastel Pencils, Unison soft pastel and Mungyo pastel sticks on Daler Rowney Ingres pastel paper. Many thanks to Edwin Butter for permission to use his fantastic reference photograph.

Both the original pastel and fine art prints are available from


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

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