Termite Mounds

The Story Behind the Painting

I was travelling way out west in the far reaches of Queensland when I came across a wonderful free camping spot called Clem Walton Park at Corella Dam near Mount Isa. It’s a free camp with lots of wildlife and photo opportunities. This was my second visit unfortunately it was much warmer and camping in a swag around 38deg with clear blue skies was not ideal. All the same I stayed for around 5 days and took some wonderful photos of termite mounds, trees and lizards.

My Painting Process

Having a clear blue sky seemed a little lifeless and boring so I decided to introduce some clouds to the sky. I must admit I was going to work the clouds a little more after I finished the termite mounds.

This painting for me was more about the clouds and creating a nice looking tree. I feel lots of people just create boring symmetrical trees me included so this time I would pay more attention to detail.

The past few months I have taken more of an interest in trees and how different they can look form one another.

I wanted the termite mounds to bring your focus to the large tree which then stands out on the horizon create a kind of triangle affect.


After painting the trunk and branches of the tree, I started adding all the leaves. The leaves I discovered aren’t dots they are more of a brush stroke pointing towards the ground.

Having finished the tree I wanted to get stuck into the termite mounds. To paint the foreground mound I used Burnt Sienna and made it darker with burnt umber and this became a little dull and was then harder to work.

For the second larger termite mound I found painting with diluted Burnt Sienna and making it darker with straight Burnt Sienna a much more pleasing red / orange colour and closer to the real termite mound. As they say you learn from your mistakes and I’m constantly making them and improving all the time.


You can now see the build up of colours on the termite mounds. Lots of dots and lines create all the little bumps that the termites have built. I just create random patterns and I also do this with stones, but sometimes you get interesting shapes that you’re not expecting.

An example of patterns in rock is at the base of the large termite mound after I added a few lines and cracks I started seeing a bear so I added a nose, arms and some claws. I thought this was rather funny and decided to keep it. Almost in the centre of the painting in the stones something looks like a scull, I decided to keep this also as you often come across animal bones while hiking in the bush.


Now time to add more rocks and some dry looking grass. I must admit I’m still struggling with life like grass but I’m rather happy with my sky, trees and termite mounds of this painting. I’m sure in time I’ll get better at each part of the painting, this I why subject studies are an accentual part of painting and learning.

I start with the mid green then work some shadows always painting towards the foreground.


Now time to work on the highlights of the grass, I suspect I didn’t have the mid tones dark enough and the highlights had to become almost white rather than a sandy, straw colour. Oh well I’ll hopefully remember for next time.


Fixing up a few of the trees and adding a little grown rubbish as I call it. This is dead bits of grass twigs and some leaves. Also I noticed a little bird poop on top of the largest mound so I added this and tried to remember if I’d see any birds perched up there. Maybe a wagtail or a magpie lark.

The foreground was a mix of stones, dirt and sand and I made sure not to cover up the sitting bear. If you still haven’t found it, draw a line from my signature to the base of the larges tree and its along this on the large termite mound.


This is presented in a nice deep red frame complimenting the termite mounds in UltraVue UV70 Anti-Reflective Glass.


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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