Cattle Egret

The Story Behind the Painting

I came across these birds by accident really, I was just coming back from the shops after buying a few books that had been recommend to me. The Cartographer secret and the bird mans wife, incase your wondering and they are still on my bookshelf as I’m still reading something else.

Anyways I was driving past Lake Alford Park next to the Gympie gold mine and historical museum and the sun was shining on a group of birds in the trees. So I decided to stop since I had my new camera in the car and photographed a variety of birds including swamp hens, black swans, coots and the wonderfully lit cattle egrets.

My Painting Process

I could tell straight away that this painting was going to be something special after I finished painting its head. The beak and eyes just really stood out on the black background with an intense stare.


I continue painting the birds neck and a white wash undercoat for the rest of the birds body.


The body came together with a thin layer of white and gradually building it up with more and more paint, creating a mass of feathers. Also I added a little sepia and some fine white feathers.

I then moved onto the birds feet which were very well defined and in sharp focus. Grey then white paint for the patterns and a little blue added over the black.


I wanted a nice simple background with all these tree roots but very desaturated as I didn’t want to add anymore colour. I decided to leave out all the green foliage and all the other leaf litter around the waters edge.


It was at this stage that I’d forgotten to leave a little room for a reflection in the water so I had to change my composition a little. This seems to be happening more and more these days changing parts of my artwork.


Once you start working out of your head rather than copying from a photograph, pay attention to impossible branches, I call them.

This is where something in the background sits in front of something in the foreground.

Look closely at the small branch in the background under the birds tail suddenly appears in front of the stick next to the birds foot.

I’m not happy with the tree roots also as they are too bright and distracting. I made them much softer and out of focus but they still dominate the painting.



I fix the problem branch up and it now sits all in the background.

I decided to add black paint on top of the branches to darken them and hopefully to push them into the background. I used almost dry black paint for this as it would still leave most of the detail I had already painted on the tree roots.

Something else that happed by accident as I was creating lines and folds in the tree bark, a word appeared. mom with a little u under the o so you also have mum and a little love heart next to it.

So when I look art this painting I think of my mum and my step mom who both encourage me to be creative.


Finished painting of the cattle egret catching a bit of afternoon sun.

This was another nice bird to paint, I know its not a poplar one like a magpie and may not sell but I think its beautiful. I have also got another cattle egret drawn up ready to paint so they may become a set.


Gouache on Canson Paper

For my Black Label collection I use Winsor & Newton Gouache on BlackĀ Colourfix Art Spectrum Paper or Black Mi-Teintes Touch Canson Paper.

My painting come from my own experiences that I have experienced 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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