Grey Butcherbird

The Story Behind the Painting

About a month ago I was photographing birds in the backyard with my 600mm lens and I spotted a grey butcherbird, which seemed to find a bit of peanut butter that I wiped off my fingers while emptying the mouse traps.

Since I had finished painting all my artworks for my upcoming exhibition I thought it was a good time to do a little bit of experimentation. My main goal was to try and paint a nice soft background, and since I remembered I had an airbrush, it was time to use it.

My Painting Process

After the bird outline is on the paper I covered it with masking fluid. I used hot pressed paper because it was nice and smooth and probably better for airbrushing.

To the left is my practice sheet of paper which I learnt not to get too close too and not use black paint as this makes things rather dull.

I did also learn after each spray, lay the paper down so it doesn’t run and leave it about 2mins between coats.

Now time to peal off the masking fluid and let the paper dry and become flat again.

I’m very happy with my first attempt at airbrushing in about 27 years.

Next a little undercoat on the branch to get an idea of shading.

I was using another one of my photos as a reference of a branch as I didn’t want to paint the steel fence that the bird was standing on. I was after a more natural looking painting with some better shapes than the fence could provide.

I didn’t quite like the look of the branch I was painting in the end so I just started making things up and seeing where the groves appeared.

After this I started painting the birds eye, beak and head and always like the life this gives to the painting.

I put down the first coat of feathers for the birds wings and chest which gives you an almost finished look.

More feathers were added and I started getting the overall shape of the bird chest.

After I added the feet I seem to realise that the shadow on the birds chest was a little dark and too much of a contrast. Also the the chest feathers were a little muddy and needed to be lighter.

So I lightened the chest up with more white paint and also lightened the shadow up a little. I think that the shadow looks a lot better and not like a black stripe down the birds chest.

I also re worked the branch a little and made it more brown and not as light on the top.

Final image framed up in a white timer frame in none reflective glass and ready to hang.

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 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

4 Comments on “Grey Butcherbird

    • Thank you so much. It’s also a way I can look back myself a remember the process I used.
      Often it’s not artists that buy my paintings so they can see how I build the painting to a finished framed artwork.
      Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and commenting

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Beautiful work. I love the soft background. It really makes the subject stand out. And well done on the bird and branch – they look amazing, as always. Love it!!


    • Funny I could just hear the grey butcherbird singing outside the window when this message came in.
      It’s nice to finally get a background I’ve been trying to create for ages in gouache I was thinking of trying acrylic paint so I could blend colours more easily. As oil’s take way to long to dry and I really need lessons in them.

      Liked by 1 person

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