December 2019 seems so long ago now, a time when bushfires were starting to ravage the state and it was to become our worst bushfire season in history. A time where the word unprecedented and catastrophic seemed to be on every persons lips and smoke hung in the air for weeks.
I was visiting a friend in the blue mountains because I had skills she needed, I was helping erect a fence for the chickens. The star of the show is Audrey and after the fence was up I decided to take a few photos of her, but whenever I tried she just turned away.
After a while we found that if Mel stood behind her she would face me and I was able to take some good photos.
Unfortunately Audrey was sick and the very next day passed away from the unknown and I promised Mel that I would paint Audrey’s portrait on day.
Audrey is a very complex bird to paint and I’ve been putting it off for a few months now because I wanted to capture her in all her beauty as any girl should be. I knew I didn’t have the skills a few months ago so I’ve been painting birds with similar feather Arrangements like the gang gang cockatoo so I could gain these skills.
Hopefully Mel will be please and Audrey will once again be in her home.
I knew this painting was going to be the toughest one yet, as it was a family pet and Mel had seen her from every angle and knew every feather.
The only way I could get this much detail was to trace it off the computer to give the best representation of Audrey.
I wanted this to be a special painting so I included a sheet of Arches water colour paper with the embossed watermark. As per my rules, any painting with a watermark will not be reproduced, made into cards or prints.
So Mel will always have Audrey all to herself and proudly show her off to friends and family.
I decided on a simple ground of just grey representing dirt as I knew I would get too carried away with rocks leaves and bugs otherwise.
Next I painted the feet and then the most important feature her eye. Now since it was late in the afternoon and her eye was in shadow I decided to make it a little lighter by adding brown. This seemed to give some life to the eye and for the next three days she was always watching me.
After the eye, I moved onto the beak, which I later darkened just to make it stand out against the white background.
A little wash of raw Sienna was added so I could start rubbing out the pencil lines around the edge of Audrey and give her a little bit of dimension.
I started working on the head, blocking in the black feathers, then I was going to add some more raw Sienna feathers but started falling asleep.
I never work when I’m tired as this is when mistakes happen, so I called it a night and put Audrey safely away in my art folder.
Audrey was given a nice head of feathers and was starting to look rather nice but I could feel her judging me. Her eye was watching my every paint stroke, hopefully I was getting her feather right.
I’ve found it much easier to paint feathers if you start at the tail of a bird and work up the body. This way you can overlap each feather and it looks natural.
Next I went a little mad adding all the chest feathers or half moons as I started calling them. These I found easier to paint down the body but fill them in from the tail upwards.
This was the end of another day, it’s amazing how time passes when your so engrossed in painting.
This morning I started adding more raw Sienna and working on the shadows under the chest and wings to give Audrey more defined curves and volume.
Then the fun began, feathers, feathers and more feathers. This was followed by chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate, thanks mum for my easter chocolate its saved this painting.
Poor Audrey I was starting to curse her, for having such complex beauty.
More shadows were added and then some more feathers.
Final touchups to make sure she looked beautiful and a little eyelash tinting.
There you have it, Audrey my easter chicken.
Happy Easter everyone.
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
What a beauty she is Chris, I’m sure Mel will be very happy with the finished painting.
I have watched you paint a lot of pictures in this lockdown but this one was a special one for a special friend.
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