Mia the Border Collie

I absolutely loved Mia’s reference photograph, in addition to being well lit and clear, it really captured her expression and personality.


Unless I am drawing a large or complicated piece, I prefer to do a simple sketch first and then change or tweak anything I’m unhappy with as I add layers of pastel. Mia’s markings really threw me off with this one however, the white on her muzzle kept tricking me into thinking everything was crooked! You can make out the several faint pencil marks of previous attempts on this sketch.


Once I was finally happy with the sketch, I added a base layer of white pastel pencil all over, then roughly laid down her features and markings.


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I built up several layers of black pastel and rubbed each one in fully before adding the next to ensure her black colouring was a rich black, for her white colouring, I included layers of grey and ivory to build the shape of her muzzle and allow the white highlights to stand out as much as possible.

Untitled design (1)

‘Mia’ 12″ x 10″ Faber Castell Pitt pastel pencil and Unison soft pastel on Daler Rowney Ingres paper. Gillian Ussher Art 2016 and is available to purchase as a print.



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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 gillian@perpetualportraits.co.uk

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