Kayaking Through A Mirror

The Story Behind the Painting

This painting is from a photo I took while camping with my friend Alison at the end of 2019. As it happens it was my last kayaking trip before I sold my kayaks off because they were just two difficult to put on my new 4WD.

Dunns swamp is just past Lithgow NSW and this was taken about two weeks before the devastating bushfires that raged into the new year all up and down the coast. Like most bushfires in Australia the areas seem to recover after a few years, there is always exceptions to the rules and the fires can have devastating effects on the wildlife, property and life.

This is the first time I’ve been to Dunns Swamp and as well as kayaking there is some fantastic walks and we spotted some local wildlife. You may recognise this photo of the gang gang which I painted the other year.

Gang Gang Cockatoo
Mother and Baby Possum

My Painting Process

I don’t normally paint this big but it was for an entry into a competition “Kaleidoscope” for artist in the Western Downs region.

Here I used some masking fluid so give me a nice clean edge for the sky.


I normally work in blocks, painting the background and slowly moving forward. Here you can see I finished the sky and then painted block of trees.


After the trees I move onto the main rock, the right side is finished and the left side just has an undercoat painted in.

I also painted Alison in my spare kayak, but no mater how hard I tried I couldn’t get her life jacket to look bright orange.


I think I was painting rocks for the next few days and probably in my sleep.

I paint rocks in stages, first undercoat and then a few layers to build up dimensions, then highlights and shadows. After this I try to get it looking more realistic by pulling paint across the paper as it would naturally fall over the rocks and create stains.


After the rocks are in place I start adding shrubs, trees and their shadows.


So the easy part finished, now to start work on the reflections.

The photo that I was working from was almost a perfect mirror image, I just didn’t have the time to replicate this as the deadline was in two days time.

Since the top half of the painting took about 4 days to complete I had to make some changes.


I started to make the reflections with more ripple in them than the actual photo. However when you do this you have nothing to copy off and have to rely on your imagination.


The reflection is always darker in the water and the closer it get to you it almost seems to become black. Thats why the rocks at the very bottom look like they have very dark shadows.


As I normally only paint in daylight hours I had to start at the crack of dawn. It’s hard to get out of bed and start painting immediately before the brain wakes up.

As a result of the complexity of this painting I ran out of daylight, and had to rig up my video light on a tripod so I could complete the artwork before the deadline.


Finished artwork framed up and ready to exhibit.

The theme was kaleidoscope, the destruction and recreation. I think there was another few paragraphs describing the it but that was the main theme and below is my interpretation of kaleidoscope.

Art Statement

As a lone kayaker slices through the mirror surface of Dunns Swam they destroy the perfect reflection of the surrounding sandstone cliffs. The kayakers disturbance of the water slowly flattens and the picture perfect reflection is soon rebuilt. Then wind fractures the reflection and the cycle of destruction and recreation is played out once more.


Gouache on 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 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

One Comment on “Kayaking Through A Mirror

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