Bad Hair Day

The Story Behind the Painting

One of my favourite animals at the zoo, and most difficult to photograph it seems is the emu. They are always on the move and never seem to be looking at you, and one of the biggest problems is all the trees in their enclosure. So most of the bird has a weird pattern of tree leaf shadows on it, which is not the best to photograph.

This was another emu from Australia Zoo and since they only have the two emus I’m going to have to find another source if I’m going to be painting emus each year to see my progress.

My Painting Process

This new emu was to replace my original greeting card as it seemed to be one of my most popular and best sellers.

As with all my greeting cards, postcards and bookmarks, once I sell the original artwork I no longer create anymore prints. This way my stock is always changing no mater how popular the artwork is.

With this artwork I was going for an out of focus background, which I still haven’t got the hang of fully yet.

At this stage of the painting the eye looks way to dark but thats just an illusion because it has so much white around it.

This is a strange part of the painting where you look at what’s on the very surface of the emu skin, in the shadows beneath all the feathers. You single out one single colour and make that your base layer, in this case it was blue.

After you do this you just paint from the skin upwards, gradually adding surface textures then painting all the various types of feathers.

After this I worked on the beak and nostrils adding all the groves and scars.

Next I started work on black feathers and more shading around the eye, the only thing I added to the eye was a little white highlights and as you can see it doesn’t look anywhere near dark now.

Once most of the black feathers were painted I started work on the white ones, then gradually build up more black and then white overlapping feathers.

It was a bit of an overcast day when I took most of the photos so they seemed to be a little dull.

As you can see in the final image that I scanned into the computer you get a true indication of the colour and the fine lines that the iPhone doesn’t seem to pick up.

This is not part of my exhibition only because I won’t have time to get it framed but it will make a new greeting card in my next order.

Previous Emus

This is a progression of my emus over the years with the first emu I painted in September 2019 my very second animal painting after a 25yr laps of painting. Each year I add a lot more detail, this comes with experience and spending a more time on the artwork and your ability to see more.


Gouache on Watercolour Paper

I use Winsor & Newton Gouache on Arches France Watercolour Paper, 300g Hot 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 

Enjoy, Chris Osborne

5 Comments on “Bad Hair Day

  1. They are always a favourite, you always manage to capture that expression on the face, excellent job Chris


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