Pretty Face Family

The Story Behind the Painting

About three years ago I was doing a lot of car camping and spent a few months traveling to and from Wuruma Dam a few hrs west of Bundaberg. It was a fantastic place you could camp free for up to 3 weeks and water and toilets were provided. Which is all that I needed and the closest towns we 45min in one direction and 1hr in the other. I have met some wonderful people there and later became good friends with a handful and have done some house sitting over the past few years.

Wuruma dam was a great place to relax and do a spot of photograph, rich in birdlife and a few mobs of kangaroos and pretty faced wallabies. I think this was my starting point for people taking an interest in my artworks and watching me paint. People then would ask if I had any originals or prints for sale and this is when I started getting greeting cards, postcards and bookmarks printed.

My Painting Process

It’s not often that I paint two animals in the same painting as I get a little worried about doing a good job on the second animal.

Here I was trying to show how soft and fluffy the Joey fur was, and all the intricate patterns on it’s chest.

Painting this small for long periods of time is definitely hard on the eyes and more difficult If its not a bright sunny day, as limited light enters the cottage.

Still I carried on and seem to produce some good work and super fine detail.

Here you can see the neutral grey under coat I use on the wallabies head before I start work on all the fur.

Then I build up the fur in layers using different strengths of neutral grey, white and a light brown. Being careful not to go too bright on the white fur that was in supposed to be in shadow on the wallabies chest.

This time I used a little different approach by adding the red brown first and then the lighter colours of fur after.

More fur added to the back and side of the wallaby body and also the arms. I struggled with the paws because the tips of them were black which doesn’t show up two well with a black background.

The joey was a little easier because its paws were surrounded by white fur.

This is probably the best example of how I paint the wallabies fur if you look at its back legs.

First I map out the light and dark areas and try and get the shapes right.

Next I want to get the direction of the fur right so I add short lines in the same neutral grey colour.

Now what I want to do is gradually add more and more colour starting with the darker browns working lighter all the time. At this stage I notice that not all the fur is the same length or thickness and try and recreate this. Also I need to add more swirls into the fur and create some interesting patterns.

Now I think most of the fur colour is correct, I just need to add a few highlights and a few more shadows.

I notice that both the wallaby and joey have a little more rusty brown on them so this is now added.

This was the fun stage and time to let loose a little, which I admit is very hard for me.

It’s about looking beyond the obvious and searching for the hidden and painting what you know rather than what you can see.

A grass field or patch is made of grass stalks but its also so much more, let me explain.

So here is an example of how I painted the grass, a different line for each of the different shapes.

I started off with bits of dark green as I just wanted to get a feel for how far up the painting I wanted the grass to grow.

Next I used splotches of green paint to show the base tuffs off grass then a lighter green for highlights and a brown for dirt.

Then I started adding a few horizontal lines for sticks and dead bits of wood followed by a few browns for dead bits of grass.

Next I used green and white squiggly lines just to add shapes, it doesn’t have to represent anything just different bits of colour on the ground.

Now onto the next painting and this is where I finally start adding some grass, start with the dry brown grass in shadows and then work lighter brown grass and finally some highlights.

This brings you up to this photo and the grass is more convincing so now you just have to repeat the process a few times and adding a few rocks and larger sticks in some places.

Don’t forget to paint grass going in front of and behind the wallabies, just add a bit of paper on top of the animal like masking paper and paint a line finishing on the paper this will look like its behind the animal.

Also a bit of critical advice that I received from my step dad two years ago when I was painting grass was that it was too uniform. So actually this was good advice which I’ve stuck to it while painting grass, fur, water and dirt.

So make sure it its not uniform and add dark patches, flat areas, areas with more stones, less sticks make it random but not a pattern and you will find it looks more realistic and not always pretty and perfect. This is what I call adding the rubbish to a painting.

Finished artwork and the last one for my up coming exhibition.

Gouache on Canson Paper

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

My painting come from my own experiences that I have 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 

Enjoy, Chris Osborne

2 Comments on “Pretty Face Family

  1. A stunning painting, and I love seeing it come together. I feel like I’m learning from reading your posts and seeing your progress shots. Thank you.


    • Thank you so much I’m glad it’s useful information for you and hopefully others.
      It’s really about trying different things and sometimes the results give you ideas for other paintings.
      I once dragged an almost dry brush across the paper and it gave me a good wood grain so now that’s the technique I use.

      Liked by 1 person

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