Hug Thy Tree

The Story Behind the Painting

This is my second painting of a koala taken from Australia Zoo about 3 months ago. The difficult part was trying to find one awake or not looking half asleep, so I returned a few times until I got the shot I was looking for.

Australia Zoo is a few hrs drive away and is a good place to find animals that you would not normally come across or are difficult to find in the wild. I have only ever seen Koalas in the wild on Magnetic Island where they look after injured koalas then re introduced them back into the wild.

Koalas at Australia Zoo

My Painting Process

Learning from my last koala painting, this time I started on the background with a few little gum leaves.
I’m loving the thin brush with the really long bristles for painting long smooth strokes found in grass and twigs.


I decided to stick with the brown tree branches that the koalas were sitting on and hugging. This tree has lots of textures and it was a nice contrast to the koala’s fur.

The progress shots have been very useful as a reference to look back on when painting similar painting.

The more I paint nature the more observant I think I’ve become in the fine details. I’m already photographing lots of trees as I would like to study them in more detail and maybe create a painting series.


After the base colour of the tree bark I started to work in more shadows and highlights to give the tree some depth. I also wanted to show the roughness of the tree which makes it super easy for the koala’s claws to grip on.


The under coat of the koala was just black watered down to show the different shades and some black claws.


Next I started with the black fur and added a few highlights to the claws.

The nose always seem to take along time to get right, or maybe that’s just me trying to get all the detail.

My favourite part of this painting was painting the little koala’s padded foot, I think I might have spent over an hour getting it right.

The last parts of the painting was to give the koala a nice coat of white fur and then add some shadows on the under side of its arms. A little more blending of the fur was also needed, so I’m constantly looking over the whole painting and this is where standing back or photographing the artwork is useful.

I also revisited the tree and added more shadows cast by the koala and this seemed stop the koala from hovering.

I added the finishing touches on the claws making them more realistic with highlights and shadows.

This is another koala painting I’m happing with and looking at my other photos, there’s about three more koalas I’d like to paint eventually.

Do you have an animal that you would like to see me paint in the future?
Thats after I’ve painted the magpie and the chicken.

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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