Sometimes things come together perfectly, the bird lands in the right spot with a good active pose so that you can see its face, the background and lighting are great, and you know that you have a photo that you just have to turn into a painting.
This was one of those photos. It needed cropping but everything else about it worked.
The subject is a male Superb fairy-wren and the photo was taken while we were camping at Cox's Creek in Coolah Tops National Park in central NSW in February of 2016. You will find more of the photos from Cox's Creek in my gallery, here.
I cut away the out-of-focus tree trunk in the background and made a vertical composition with the bird in the top left-hand corner.
We are very lucky in Australia to have a number of brightly coloured parrots, like the very common crimson rosella.
It was the white tree-trunk behind the rosellas that inspired me to paint this picture. I wanted a bit of relief after the nocturnal blackness of my possum painting!
This pair of rosellas was photographed at Junction Pools in Barrington Tops National Park (more photos from this trip here). They were preoccupied with searching for a nest hollow so I was able to approach them quite closely. My source photo had glorious colour and barely needed any cropping, but there were some problems with it.
I felt that the left hand edge and the top of the picture needed cropping to move the birds upwards and make the bi...
Different possums seem to dominate the areas around different campsites, and at Junction Pools in Barrington Tops National Park ringtail possums were by far the most common. We were finding six or eight of them each night, while out spotlighting.
This one presented an interesting picture for painting.
As you can see, the original photo definitely needed cropping!
So I cut off the edges to create a vertical picture that encompassed the whole of the possum and a little of the background.
With this painting the difficulty was going to be in making it look as if the light was natural rather than a spotlight. I haven't actually achieved that in my painting because, I suppose, "natural light" would have been moonlight w...
One thing that can be said about our Australian bush is that it is almost never tidy and I like my paintings to reflect this messiness. So I am inclined to steer clear of nice neat scenes.
I would be happy if people could smell the eucalyptus and feel the hot hot sun when they look at my paintings. I want my birds to look alive, as if, a second later they might fly away - which is usually precisely what happens (in real life - not in the painting)!
With my effort to post photos from our last camping trip in my photo gallery I have fallen a bit behind in my painting blog posts and am now a few paintings in arrears! I came back with ten and a half thousand photos from our weeklong trip away, and with interruptions such as a...
The road in to the camp-ground was simply awful, taking an hour to travel 11 kms in our 4WD truck, but the setting was stunning, perched on the edge of the Barrington River. The sunny days and crystal clear mountain air were ideal for photography, and I came home with a rich source of images suitable for painting.
I have an unwritten personal rule that every camping trip has to result in at least one painting in order to justify the expense of my wonderful camera and telephoto lens. The photo that I choose to paint depends on my mood at the time of choosing, ie. what sort of challenge I feel like taking on at that moment. Quite often this results in a painting of a quite ordinary species - one that we commonly see everywhere we go, rather than an exotic one that truly represents the location. Oh dear!
In this case, I wanted to try working on a painting that was mostly grey-neutral in colouring, in which the birds were the brightest objects.
I selected a photo from amongst a collection of photos of red-backed firetails, taken at our M...
Laura and I spent some time one morning during our recent camping trip to D"Aguilar National Park, taking photos of this young red-legged pademelon in the undergrowth. This was my first chance during the trip to photograph a pademelon since I had somehow missed all the other golden opportunities that Joe and Laura had taken advantage of, (probably because I was too busy trying to get shots of scarlet honeyeaters in the callistemons along the creek).
The pademelons around the Neurum Creek camp-site were not very trusting of people and were difficult to approach, but Laura and I stood still on the path to the creek and this young animal was quite at ease as we watched it for ten minutes or so, clicking away madly. You m...
I have been quite impressed by the efforts of some of the 'painting-a-day' artists in producing small works quickly with very free loose strokes, such as Karen Margulis, Carole Marine and others.
This week, since I had just finished another bigger painting, I thought it might be a useful exercise to try doing a few small paintings in a similar quick loose style during my lunch breaks. I felt I could focus on portraits of native animals. I don't usually do portraits, since I like to show animals with some elements of their environment around them. I don't know of any Australian artists focusing on our wildlife amongst the painting-a-day crowd.
Well it turned out to be more difficult than I had expected, and in fo...
It is a funny thing but often the paintings that eventuate following our camping trips, are not at all what I might have anticipated.
Take our recent trip to Townsville, for instance. Townsville is more than 1500 km north of where we live, and in a different climate zone. On this trip I probably took more than 5000 photos, mainly of birds, including at least five new species that I had never photographed before. So from those photos how have I ended up painting a cormorant, a finch and seagulls that all occur locally?
Somehow it just happened. When you are thinking about starting a new painting, you have to work on something that inspires you at the time, and these were the subjects that I felt like painting. So I didn't...
This picture is maybe not one that I would normally have chosen as the subject for a painting, but Laura was visiting for one of our occasional “painting weekends”, and I had to choose a subject quickly from amongst my Koreelah NP photos. (Laura thinks I am very slow to decide what to paint.)
If you look closely at the original photo, you might be able to see the two little silvereyes in the centre, perfectly posed, looking very cute! But therein lies the problem.
To my mind, wildlife artists in general fall into a few different categories.
There are people who focus on “big game”. In this category are many fine artists painting “big cats” and elephants, and other African fauna, with occasional sorties into “big” American wil...