Babies First Steps

The Story Behind the Painting

Living just a few minutes from Mon Repos Beach I decided that I needed a break from painting and headed to the beach. Mon Repos is famous for turtle laying, where people come from all over the world to watch this night time activity.

My Aunt was visiting so we decide to have a look for turtle tracks on the beach. We soon found plenty of tracks on the beach from the night before, so we knew it was a successful hatching night. We spotted a few rangers digging up overdue nests and recording all the details from, number of eggs hatched, ones that didn’t, some not properly formed, depth and many other things for future reference.

We were lucky enough to see a few live ones been released, this photo’s from the previous weeks walk on the beach.

My Painting Process

On a test strip of paper I gave the brush method of creating sand another go, but failed miserably.
I ended up with two large blobs of paint on the paper as the brush I was using was way too soft.
Next I tried the toothbrush method and ended up with a nice spray of off white all over my iPad.

So I ended up with a light wash and then hand painted the sand one grain at a time, this is about 2.5hrs worth of dots and a hand cramp.

Next I added a little more sand over the water mark making sure I didn’t paint inside the watermark of the paper.
This was to balance the painting out a little more, as I felt like the turtle had no head space.

I have decided to create some Arches watermark exclusive paintings, this a painting that has the Arches watermark embossed in one corner of my artworks.
This will guarantee I’ll make no other copies of this artwork on greeting cards or limited edition prints, apart from social media photos.
Hopefully this will be a feature of my exhibitions, limit two watermarked paintings per exhibition.

Now when the turtle exits the nest it’s covered in sand and has a rather dull looking grey head and shell. Once the first wave crashes over the turtle and sends it into a tumbling nightmare up the beach.
The turtle now wet, emerges glossy with vibrant colours and sand free.
This is what I wanted to capture, a shiny new turtle hatchling.

So happy with the sand I had created I then moved onto the turtles head.

I always like adding blue to black, it seems to make the colour pop more. I have exaggerated the colours a little for artistic licence but not too much to make it unrealistic.
Now this little guy had lots of folds and patterns on it neck and shell so I was not only painting a baby turtle, I was looking at it from a reptile perspective.
I was thinking of future paintings of lizards and maybe a snake. It’s not always about what you can paint now its about what you maybe training yourself to paint in the future.

I’m loving the colours of the shell, even if they are providing challenging trying to get a nice transition from blue to yellow.

The next challenge was to almost use the same colour pallet for the yellow shell as for the sand. The main difference was I wanted the shell to be shiny so hopefully I have achieved this with a little white.

Each painting is so different from the one before and you can never tell how long each one is going to take. Sometimes you can get caught up re painting eyes to line them up or get the reflections right so they don’t look like dead eyes.
Other times you just have a need for chocolate and then waste half an hour at the shops.

Next I moved onto outlining the flippers of the turtle, which reminded me of dragons scales, unfortunately I can’t create things out of my head so I’d never be able to paint a dragon. My friend Bretts one for the fantasy paintings not me.

Moving onto the flippers, they weren’t as bad to paint as I thought, I Just start off light then gradually darken each one up adding some highlights and a tinge of raw Sienna with some white and black outlines completes them.

Here is a close up to show the scale, of the paintings, as you can see they’re very small works of art. I think the baby turtle is probably a little larger than life but not far off.

The last thing I do when painting is take a photograph and you can usually see if something is off or not balanced. I also colour match one part of the painting with another. So I will add the same yellow on the shell and place some on the head and flippers.

Overall this baby turtle was a pleasure to paint and also to witness its struggle down the beach.
The small pebbles that get caught between your toes were a real challenge for this little guy. Then a wave would crash over it, sending the poor thing tumbling back up the beach only to try and do battle with the waves once more.

My artworks are about my life experiences, not just copying someone else photos because I like the image. Each one has its own story, some are more exciting and memorable than others. This baby turtle was definitely and excellent experience and I hope it brings joy to whoever purchases it as its going to be one of a kind because of the watermark.

Gouache Colour Palette

This was a very limited colour pallet, which I enjoy using and the more I paint Australian animals I’m finding that they have a similar base colour. Obviously the much more colourful birds and insects have a rainbow of colours, which makes painting them very enjoyable.

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 

Enjoy, Chris Osborne

3 Comments on “Babies First Steps

  1. Chris this turtle is just like you, taking it’s first steps, testing the waters, Will I survive, Think Positive taking a chance, With you’re talented of course you will xx

    Liked by 1 person

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