Yea – Green Tree Python

The Story Behind the Painting

Well this is going to be a none existent story as it’s my cousins pet snake and I know nothing about it apart from its Name: Yea the Green Tree Python. I guess my normal blogging back story isn’t going to work for pet portrait commissions, so I’ll get straight into the painting process.

Yea – Green Tree Python

My Painting Process

To be honest this painting scared me a little. I’d been putting off painting anything with scale as I thought I wasn’t good enough yet but my cousin gave me the push I needed.

Time to put my big boy pants on and get stuck into painting this snake.

I knew this painting was going to be something different so I thought I’d try something new and hopefully special for Chris. I visited my local art shop and discovered they didn’t have any coloured watercolour paper. So I found some coloured pastel card that looked like it would do the job.

I started with painting the tree branch and discovered that the paint was drying totally different colour than on white paper. Oh boy this is going to be a fun painting.


Yellow is very transparent and with black card underneath it seamed to turn a greenish tinge which for this reptile was good.

I soon discovered that I needed to pile the gouache on very thick. I have used more paint on this one painting than probably my last 10 paintings combined. Also adding white to my yellow made it more opaque, so things were moving forward.

Even thought I was only placing down an undercoat I still wanted to follow the form of the snakes body.

I love painting eyes and this was no exception, I have a crocodile I’d love to paint purely because of its amazing eyes.

Another colour oddity was when I was painting the blue parts in the tongue they came out out purple when applied to the black paper. So white was added then blue which was way too bright so I dulled it down with a light black wash on top.


Last part of the snakes undercoat was the head, I applied this with circle motions to get the feel of some scales.

At this point I got a little excited and sent my cousin a progress shot, which he was more than happy with.

Next I started to panic as I had now hit the point of no return as I’d already sent my cousin a progress shot. I did state that I’d never painted scales before so I may stuff it up.

What can I say I’m more than honest and doubt my abilities even if others believe in me. At this point I need a calm down walk around the house and have a cool drink.


After experimenting with some paint brushes I found one that gave me some nice looking scales that I was happy with.

I then looked at the photo again and discovered that most of the snake was out of focus apart from the head so this was going to be a new challenge.

I also kept revisiting the tree branch and adding a little more shadow.


I then added a light white wash to try and blur the snake scales a little and give it a little more convincing three dimensional look.


Time to have a crack at the head and place some scale on before retiring to bed.


In the morning I spent a few hours trying to create more realistic scales with some highlights and shadows on each scale.

I also re visited parts of the body and some darker parts of the eyes and tongue.

Last I hid my cousin initials CB in the painting as I like to do and signed my name with a sigh of relief as I completed a painting I was so scared of two days before.


I then made a mock up of the finished artwork in a frame for my cousin and also so I could post on my Instagram and Facebook accounts.

Found a spare frame I had hanging around the house for my cousin.


Gouache Colour Palette

I used Black Mi-Teintes Touch Pastel Card rather than my normal Arches watercolour paper.

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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