Swing into Tropical Paradise

The Story Behind the Painting

I was staying at Mission Beach in tropical north Queensland and I was told about a day trip to Dunk Island, so armed with $40 I boarded the ferry and left the mainland behind me. Ten minutes later I was on a tropical island with a very overcast day, which didn’t bother me as I was here to hike the island and take in the sites.

As you can see later in the day the weather started to improve and gave me some blue skies which seem to bring life to the island. The sand wasn’t as white as I’ve seen but it was much easier to paint and look more realistic for people that haven’t seen pure white sand.

Dunk Island Jetty
View from Jetty

My Painting Process

Well my exhibition is still a way off and since I’m house sitting for a few weeks this gives me a good opportunity to do some painting. My exhibition next year is “Beach to Bush” so it’s about time I started painting so beach scenery.

Starting with a light wash for the sky, I then moved on to painting the water and hopefully giving it a nice warm feel, something that you would love to swim in.

I then started painting the sand with a light raw Sienna wash then a sprayed a fine assortment of colours with my stippling brush to give the affect of stones on the beach.

Raw Sienna and a grey wash gave me a good mix for some palm tree shadows.


Time for some background foliage and to start to give this painting some depth. Normally the further you go into the background the tree line gets lighter, in this case the tree line was in shadow but the distant island were much lighter.

I only have a few greens but it’s more about contrasting bushes with shadows that gives you some depth.

I liked the look of the palm tree leaning out towards the sea and imagined a swing hanging from it, so being an artist thats what I added. Unfortunately I added the swing then painted the palm tree shadow so you would have to be well over 6ft to get on it. Always pay attention to what your painting.


Working a little more on the background bushes and what I call, creating an environment. Nothings perfect even in paradise so add some junk on the beach, not rubbish just the odd stray piece of wood and a few small rocks and plants.

When the tide laps on the beach it creates lines in the sand so I started adding these for some more realism, it’s all about the details and observations thats makes for a better painting.


This is where I got to just before it got dark, I started painting the palm tree, one branch and colour at a time. The lower and ends of the palm branches are much lighter brown as they have started to die, so I tried to match this as closely as possible.

I discovered that a palm tree frond is much easier to paint on left to right. I had much more difficulty painting the ones on the lefthand side, must be the way I hold my brush or the movement in my hand.

I had to laugh as the palm tree looks in such bad shape at this stage, in fact at the other end of the beach there is an abandoned resort that was claimed by a cyclone a few years ago and still hasn’t been repaired.

As I said this is where I got up to just before dark, as a general rule I paint from early morning till I lose the natural light in the evening. If I turn on the house lights, I could easily paint all night and that’s not good for the body or my eyes. Besides I have to eat and goto the shops and stock up on chocolates.


I realised that the palm tree shadow was much smaller than the tree so I had to enlarge it a little.

Also I added more stones in the wet sand line and blended the edges. reworked the waves lapping the beach with a little more white foam and took the plunge  and added more blue to the ski.

Time gets away from me so I suspect that I spent another 3hrs painting the palm fronds, which I wanted to look good as this painting is all about the palm tree silhouette for me.

Oh and I had to add my trademark animal so this time it was a brush turkey I found wandering on the other end of the beach.

Overall I’m happy with the outcome and have a nice reminder of a good day trip I took to Dunk Island and hopefully this is one of many beach scenes to come.

Note, painting photos taken with iPhone so much brighter in real life.


Gouache Colour Palette

Almost my full palette of colours used in the sand and bushes.

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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