Mr Grumpy

The Story Behind the Painting

I started this kookaburra at my sisters place over Christmas and I managed to get a few hrs painting while people were playing on their phones.

This guy was photographed early one morning while I was camping at Futter Creek Camping Reserve. This is a free camp beside the main road about 2.5hrs away from mums place in Queensland.

I must say that my Australian road trip is giving me an endless supply of subjects to paint and I’m having a hard time choosing which animal to paint next.

I must have followed this guy around the creek for a good 10mins trying to get some nice shots. The ground close the the creek was like sinking mud, so I had to step from grass tuft to grass tuft, trying to keep my shoes clean. Over all I managed to get some good photos of the kookaburra so I may possibly paint another.

My Painting Process

I started this painting off with a light undercoat to get a feel for where the shadows would lay.

Having learnt from my koala mistake I’ve started on the most difficult and time consuming part first, the tree stump.


Next I worked on the beak and it’s funny how a birds colours will mimic it’s environment. As you can see the beak is almost the same colour pallet as the tree stump.

Moving onto the eye, I could see straight away that he had a bit of attitude and a bad temper, and I named him Mr Grumpy.

The more variety of birds I’m painting I’m discovering that they can have colourful eyes. I’d never really paid much attention to them before I just thought they were mainly black, with a white light reflection.


I’ve painted an under coat for the breast and head feathers, adding a little shadow to give a more rounded look.

Also I introduced some extra green colour into the bark as it was looking a little bland and wanted another subtle colour that wasn’t in the kookaburra.

I think this was a favourite tree of the kookaburra as it was covered in poop, which I decided to only paint a fraction of it.

This is where I got up to while at my sisters, trying to find a nice balance between been social and not too antisocial while pursuing my hobby.

Thanks to my sister and family I was given a gift voucher to spend on more paints and my mother and Brian also gave me money. I now have new brushes, paper, art folder and a watercolour book to study.


A shot of me painting to show you the scale of my artworks and the small brushes I use.

This is 95% complete, just adding a few more shadows and some nice blues and greens  on the wings.


Overall I’m very happy with this grumpy fella and can’t wait to see it framed up.

This is the first painting of the new year, 2020 unfortunately I’m not very good at writing 2’s, so that’s something I’ll have to work on. Trouble is you only get one chance at signing the artwork when you have a white background.

I’m enjoying painting fur rather than feathers so maybe I’ll do some kangaroos or possums next or maybe a koala.
The Koala will probably require a visit to the zoo, as they are hard to find up high in the trees.

Not that we’re going to have many left with these bush fires all over Australia, its killing millions of animals and destroying massive amounts of habitats. Don’t be surprised if you see some bush fire themes coming into my paintings over the next couple of months, I find this heartbreaking.

A few months ago I was in an area where massive bushfires were less than 5km away from Glenella Guesthouse in Blackheath NSW. I was lucky to have friends at the bottom of the mountains where I could stay away from the fires and continue my painting, Thank you Mel & Darrayn.


Gouache Colour Palette

I use Winsor & Newton Gouache on Arches France Watercolour Paper, Cold Pressed.

My painting come from my own experiences that I have lived and photographed while traveling. By reading this blog, you as a viewer can now hear The Story Behind the Painting. Where, when, what was happening while I was photographing the wildlife.
If you want more details about my adventures checkout my travel blog website www.ChrisOsborneAdventures.wordpress.com

Enjoy, Chris Osborne

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