Ant on Leaf

The Story Behind the Painting

Since I’ve been updating my website a lot over that past two weeks I came across I blog that I forgot to write, the ant on leaf. This painting doesn’t have as much detail as my current artworks because it was painted almost 2yrs ago and just started painting again.

I was camping at Wuruma Dam, QLD wondering what to paint so I started looking at all the images I had marked as favourites. Among them was a nice orange leaf backlit by the sun, once I completed this painting it sold and 3 others to one of the campers at Wuruma Dam.

The source photo of this little leaf goes back even further to 2013 when I was training my mum in the Blue Mountains. We would go hiking every weekend as we were gaining fitness for the walk of a life time, the Camino de Santiago a 800km hike across Spain. We both completed 257km of this in 2014 and I completed the whole thing right to the coast in 2018.

Taking mum on some steep hiking trails.

My Painting Process

This was painted such a long time ago that I’ll just have to guess how I painted the leaf from my photos.

This is why I take progress shots, so I can look back at them years later to see my techniques, and how I’ve progressed over time.

Looks like I used a light wash of burnt sienna for the leave and added a little dry paint to create a slight shadow down the spine.


Next I used burnt umber to paint all the rust spots around the leaf holes and various places on the leaf. I also painted lines across the leaf and I remember this taking forever.


Darker rust spots were added and a slight green to the leaf. Also I added shadows to the rust spots to give them more dimension.

Something I also remember while painting outside, was the wildlife and weather affecting everything. I was constantly getting bitten by ants and mozzies and moved a few spiders and wasps and centipedes on.

The constant shifting of my art table as the sun moved around the car ever changing its shadow.

The wind would pickup and I just had to stop work and pack everything away. This is why very early on I started taping my artwork down so it wouldn’t suddenly fly away.

The radiant heat off the sun shade was almost unbearable if there was no breeze at all.

One thing I did like was people stopping by to see what I was painting. This would often lead to offers of a drink or meal later on, which was just amazing.


More lines were added, darker greens and some highlights, then I signed my name and the artwork was complete, I thought.

I really like the arches watercolour mark, bottom right its kind of a feature and shows the use of quality paper.


I moved onto a few other paintings and about a month later I thought something was missing off this painting but didn’t know what.

I thought that if I added a shadow this might finish it off, but after looking at the photo the leaf was still attached to the tree.

So after getting bit by yet another ant I decided that’s what I’m going to paint on the leaf.

My pocket camera was in the drinks holder of my chair, easy access just incase an interesting bird few by.

The ants were climbing my camp table looking for food, unfortunately these were only the very small ones. Armed with my camera and a hat I went looking for larger ants to photograph and it wasn’t long before a came across some more and they came across me.

A few more ant bites to the feet later I was happy with the shots and went back to load them onto my iPad so I could paint them.


Finished artwork framed up ready for the new owner.


Gouache and Watercolour Paper

I use Winsor & Newton Gouache on Arches France Watercolour Paper, 300g Cold Pressed.

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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