I Got the Blues

The Story Behind the Painting

This is the third painting from O‚ÄôReilly’s at Green Mountain in Lemington National Park on the Queensland, New South Wales border.

Early one morning I was out shooting a video for my YouTube Channel Chris Osborne Adventures, when I was told the location of a bower bird nest from one of the park staff. I was very excited because I’d never seen one in real life before.

The bower bird builds its nest out of twigs and collects anything it can find that has shades of blue, if the bower bird cannot find blue object then it will resort to a collection of white shells or stones. The bower bird will do a little dance in its nest complete with a mating call to entice the female into courtship.

I hung around for a while but there was no sign of the bower bird, so I continued walking and filming other bird life.

Bower Bird Nest, Queensland

When I got back to my campsite hopping around in front of me was a bower bird in all his glory. A year and a half later this bird made it onto my water colour paper.

As you can see I had to composite the photos and hopefully I have got the scale of each correct. I was thinking of adding the female as well but in the end decided that it would look too busy. I may paint the female at a later date and then they could hang as a pair in someones home.

Bower Bird

My Painting Process

My current painting setup, is the same as I use while out camping. The only difference is I’m using a dining room chair and not my camping chair with sleeping bags and jacket to raise the hight of the chair.

I have made a few changes to this set-up as follows.

The changes are my paints are under my pallet on the right. My brushes are now to my left for easy access.
The iPad is centred above my art work and my water is still in the same place, to my right. The only difference here is I don’t fill the water up so high, because I’ve knocked the table a few times and water has splashed out.

The pallet with all my gouache is still to the right so I can dip my paint brush in the water and then mix correct colours without reaching over my artwork.

Another difference when I’m out camping is I use a clipboard to stop my artwork flying away in the wind and I also have a sheet of greaseproof paper at hand incase it starts to rain unexpectedly.

I paint on a black sheet of card that way I know the surface is clean as this is also my camping and cooking table. The brown paper is to keep my dirty hands off the white watercolour paper while painting.

I also have a kneadable rubber and a strip of white paper I test my brush strokes on if I’m trying to get fine detail in the grass or twigs.


I’ve never painted stacks of twigs before so I wasn’t sure how this was going to turn out. As they say you just have to experiment with things if you want to move forward. I try to challenge myself a little in each painting, this one was the birds nest and all the blue objects.


I then started to place a layer of dirt rather than all the leaves in the photo. I knew that I would get carried away if I had to paint lots of leaves and the painting would never get finished.


I then started to work on the twigs, which required lots of layering to make them look like they were all interwoven. I started to add a few leaves and some string complete with shadows on the ground.


Then I started working on the bird, which was rather difficult to get the nice glossy blue highlights in his feathers.


Finally the feet, then I re worked the dirt and added some extra objects on the ground. I also added more twigs of different colours and a few lighter ones to add some depth to the painting.

Oh I also added a mushroom as a tribute to my friend Mike in Philadelphia, who is really into mushrooms and has just told me, my artwork arrived and he’s proudly hung it on his dining room wall.

So I’m slowly getting my artwork out across the world as another one currently hangs in Germany.

I like this painting as its more of a scene than just an illustration of a bird. It was also fun compositing two photos together to make the final image and place the bower birds head in a frame of twigs.


Gouache Colour Palette

I use Winsor & Newton Gouache on Arches France Watercolour Paper, 300g 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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