Posted on Leave a comment

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo perched on a Kapok Bush

 Sulphur-crested Cockatoo Cacatua galerita perched on a Kapok Bush Cochlospermum fraseri with Cockburn Range, in the Kimberley Region, WA, in the background

Sulphur-crested Cockatoos may be thought of as an eastern coast species in Australia. They are, however, a common species across the North of Australia where they may be found in small flocks to huge numbers in agricultural areas. The northern sub-species C.g fitzroyi has a distinctive pale blue orbital skin compared to the white of the eastern sub-species. The Sulphur-crested is also a much smaller species than any of the three Black Cockatoos of the SW of WA. The Kapok bush, with it’s stunning yellow flowers is also a relatively common scraggly deciduous plant that occurs mostly in the open tropical and semi-tropical savanna woodlands of the NT and WA.

This painting now completes the set of the Western Australian large Cockatoos.

SULPHUR-CRESTED COCKATOO on Kapok bush Original Watercolour painting

As yet unframed watercolour painting on Arches 300gsm hot-pressed paper (smooth surface). The painting measures 51cm x 71cm and was stretched to prevent warping while paint was applied.


Posted on Leave a comment


I first saw Banksia burdettii at Kings Park, Perth (Botanical Gardens). It’s not hard to fall in love with such a glorious plant. It has been a while in coming- this painting and it initially was intended to be just the plant. But as the project progressed the birds were introduced to the composition. I rather enjoy using mixed bird species in the one composition despite seldom doing it. Finding a balding old seed cone was a bit of a challenge and I hope what I have included is a typical example. The (orange) colour of the flower heads is derived from the stamen and not the flower which is a typical off white with a very feint red central line. When the flower explodes open there are four small white flower heads supported by four individual fluffy stems. I would recomend checking them out on your own garden plants if you have not already done so. with other similar banksias.


Posted on Leave a comment


Tower Road, East Nannup, Watercolour

A recent stay in Nannup resulted in us wandering some of the back roads of the district in order to find some suitable landscape opportunities. There are several quiet winding back roads lined with large Karri trees that easily capture my attention. I enjoy the mix of rural farmland together with big trees and dense bushland. Robins and Western Rosellas also seem to like this as a habitat.



The image measures 55cm x 39cm and is painted on Arches 300gsm Hot Pressed Paper. The picture is currently unframed. Cost of the painting includes postage in Australia.


Posted on Leave a comment


It’s been quite a while since I painted a landscape and again one of my favourite locations west of Pemberton amongst the enormous Karri trees. The painting measures 55cm x 35cm and was painted on Arches 300gsm Hot Press paper. At the moment the painting is unframed.



The painting measures 55cm x 35cm and was painted on Arches 300gsm Hot Press paper. At the moment the painting is unframed. Delivery of the painting is via Australia Post- Express Post and costs are included in the price. International clients should email for additional postage (which is probably about $70AUD)


Posted on Leave a comment


This watercolour features the very elegant Red-necked Avocets in a flock that was inspired from a trip to Kalbarri. in 2013.

The painting measures 75cm x 55cm and is painted on Arches 300gsm Hot Pressed paper. It would be true to say that the style used in this case is free and not a lot of detail in the feathering.



The painting measures 75cm x 55cm and is painted on Arches 300gsm Hot Pressed paper.


Posted on Leave a comment


Varied lorikeets on Eucalyptus miniata

A watercolour of one of the lesser known but very colourful Lorikeets of the north of Australia. These rather cheeky little birds frequent the flowering gums of the sub-tropics from the Kimberley Region in WA through the Top End of the NT across to the Gulf country of Qld. This painting is available unframed and can therefore be posted any where in the world.

From our research, his is a species that has been rarely painted so this is probably a rare painting to acquire.

Dimensions are 54cm x 41cm painted on Arches 300gsm Hot Press Paper.

A VARIED DIET- Varied Lorikeets on Woolbutt An original watercolour painting

Dimensions are 54cm x 41cm painted on Arches 300gsm Hot Press Paper. Postage and packaging are included in the price. This painting would be posted through Australia Post (Express Post) International postage will be additional and if intersted please email me to confirm the postage price to your country.


Posted on Leave a comment



In response to inquiries on this subject


The most seemingly insignificant part of any picture can make or break the final result. The sky is a key element in landscapes and nature painting and my comments will apply to this and not to other painting subjects such as portraits. With watercolour paintings the background (sky, forests etc), if painted too lightly first time can result in needing a second coat. It is then that the risk of loosing vibrance by making the paint too dense is a real possibility. And paint the background sky too dark and the tonal range of the whole picture can be jeopardised (unless you want a dark background which is a common thing). My preference in painting backgrounds is with a large Raphael Le 803 brush (sizes 5-11)., and lots of water to boot. Not everyone wants to use a brush.

Over the past decade or two,I have observed the increased use of air brush technique when making pictures of nature. Air brush painting has been an acceptable practice since early 1890’s, and used very effectively for creating pictures of vehicles, motor bikes, boats, portraits, huge wall murals and even by panel-beaters and car decorators. There is a clear and valid use of the device, which I expect, requires a lot of training and skills development- just like any art technique. I have seen images of motorbikes painted using air brush and they are just superb. It is also a technique that appears to lend itself to hyper-realism picture production and helps to create a real bing in a picture. My enthusiasm starts to decline with vehicles, buildings, graffitti and architectural images.

Despite not liking to be boxed into an art type my artwork appears to be consistent with those known as naturalism works- a subset of realism. I like using brushes because they are a natural tool for watercolour- a bit like charcoal and graphite for drawings and linework. My favourite subjects are found in nature and landscapes. I even have a native plant garden. But back to the subject-

The use of air brush technique to make a picture of a natural subject relies in the first instance upon a personal choice which is to answer the question: how do you want the final picture to appear? it’s a philosophical thing really. Each to their own, I say. Many a person trying to paint nature starts out by trying to replicate a photograph. And it is right there that things start to unravel. Well known artists even make air brush backgrounds- and eventually they all start to look the same- same colours, same everything. And if you look in their studio there will be a line-up of pictures being mass produced. That’s just professional art you say. It’s a personal choice- I say. Where is the wrestling with the picture, where is the uniqueness, where is the art? Painting of nature (fauna and flora) has shifted in recent years with hyperrealism artists making huge pictures of small creatures like 60cm high wrens. And that’s all there is- just a wren or a lion or a zebra- no composition with habitat, just an objectified thing and perhaps clinging to a straight stick. And the air brush is used to create the equivelant of an out-of-focus background in a photograph. It’s a studio adaption not a natural reality. The gradation of a shape from in focus to out of focus as achieved in a photograph is not how our eyes perceive an image. We focus on what we are looking at and the rest is simply not specifically recognised. However, since digital photography has become so commonly used we have allowed ourselves to replicate  a photographic style in place of a natural style. And that’s a philosophical choice. My real concern is the lack of creativity being applied by artists when making a composition- originality is being replaced by photo interpretation.

I have never used an air brush and I don’t expect I ever will because I have a technique that I enjoy. It’s a philosophical thing.

and while I am at it another thing that I don’t do- use masking fluid

I don’t use masking fluid to achieve highlights or to protect a piece of paper for later pure colouring. A close examination (and sometimes not so close) of a watercolour painting may reveal the use of masking fluid- the shape of the latex gunk used these days is usually sharp rough edged like a ragged triangle and unlike any natural highlight- it usually looks awful and extremely unatural. So why do people use the stuff in nature painting ?

Before latex masking fluid was availanble one thing artists use to use was wax on paper to stop paint soaking in and then use a hot iron over blotting paper to absord the unwanted wax.

In nature, you will be pushing uphill to find true white, so why imagine that preserving bright white miss-shapen highlights will bring a benefit to a picture. A white feather on a bird will usually be a very pale buff yellow/white; grey/white, pinky/white or so on.

Wandoo and shrubs

The picture above (Wandoo and Shrubs) forms part of a much larger watercolour landscape painting. I wanted the pale trunks of the Wandoo trees to stand out from the darker colours of the shrubs. A feint pencil line indicated where the tree trunks were to be. I carefully but freely painted up to those lines with the dark green and blue. I didn’t care if a bit of paint went to far (as you can see) as long as I maintained the impression of stand out tree trunks. The clouds are wet brushed with clear water added before and sfter the blu paint was applied and then lifted out for the cotton wool effect- revealing a suitable white to give a reliable impression of clouds.

The same approach was used in this painting of karri trees trunks against the blue sky.

Posted on Leave a comment


Colour palettes form an obvious and critical part of an artist’s approach to their art. The selection of a basic range should to be well reasoned and developed over time to suit the works that are planned. An artists attitude and choice of subject matter or even kind of works may change over time and so can a palette.

The photograph above is of my basic range of colours set out on a palette manufactured by Michael Wilcox. Find out more about this magnificent palette here:

I have used this palette for over 30 years and worn one out in that time about 4-5 years ago- so they are a great investment. The heavy duty melamine cleans really well which for me is critical as I am a little OCD and could not tolerate messy or stained mixing in the paint wells: I want colour reliability and consistency without any unwanted form of contamination. I don’t use the layout of colour wells as suggested by Wilcox as I like to do things my way. The up-side of individuality is that you do use what becomes your own unique and recognisable palette.

I use about twenty-two basic colours whether I am painting a bird, landscape or human portrait. In cleaning the palette for this Blog, I have left four wells empty: there is a need now and then to add a unique colour or two to a painting and that’s when these wells do get used. Starting from the bottom and going anti-clockwise my basic palette comprises:

Cobalt Blue (W&N)

Ultramarine Blue (W&N) Indispensible.

Permanent Mauve (Windsor and Newton) The subtle lining in just about every cloud on a sunny day.

Permanent Crimson (W&N)

Scarlet (W&N)

Warm Sepia (Art Spectrum) – mix with Ultramarine Blue for “false black”

Burnt Umber (Graham)

Burnt Sienna Hue (Art Spectrum) Does amazing things when mixed with Permanent Mauve and Ultramarine Blue and drops of clean water on Arches Hot Pressed paper.

Raw Siena (W&N)

Yellow Ochre (W&N) Nice as a glazing colour

Cadmium Orange (W&N)

Cadmium Yellow (W&N)

Cadmium Lemon & Cadmium Lemon Pale (W&N)

Chromium Dioxide (DaVinci or W&N) perfect mix with appropriate blues and turquoises for Australian leaves.

Permanent Sap Green (W&N, Da Vinci, Grumbacher) I hunted around for a long time to find just which brands I liked.

Olive Green (W&N, Smith, and others are mostly OK)

Australian Dark Leaf Green (Art Spectrum) Magnificent for watery washes as it provides a granular finish when clean drops of water are added as wsell as some other colours Very suitable for finishing mosses and other plants of the deep dark places under an old stump- if you get my drift.

Turquoise (W&N)

Turquoise Light (W&N) these two colours may be a surprise but these colours often occur in Australian Parrots.

Cerulean Blue (Daniel Smith or W&N)- Take care when painting a plain blue sky as you can encounter a fast drying paint if not careful which leads to a streaky image which can be off putting.

Titanium White (only W&N) Critically important for nature work. Seldom used as a straight “colour” but more to give a colour some density or opacity. A common use is when I finish the feather vein and the barbs using different base colours. The reason I avoid using it straight is because you can end up with an unwanted contrasting textural tone with other colours- not a good look.

Lamp Black (only W&N) A most versatile “colour” that I have always relied on to deliver true black when I need it. The wing of Black Cockatoos are multi-layered- Ulramarine Blue; some Purple, Warm Sepia all individually mixed with Lamp Black to varying degrees- then detail finishing with the addition of Titanium White to suit each predominant colour.

Other colours that I encounter include: Indigo; Thalo Blue; Luminescent colours from Daniel Smith (excellent and you can mix other colours as per normal to shift the colour a bit) Rose Pink; Cobalt Blue Deep and whatever crops up from time to time. Lightfastness is the most significant issue with watercolour paints and those I use are determined under strict testing to be colour fast.

I hope this helps you in choosing your own range of colours.

Posted on Leave a comment


Almost ten weeks have passed since the 2021 Open Studios event came to an end. Since then I have completed commissions and a few new paintings for the Margaret River Busselton Tourism Association.

For about two years we have been providing our greeting cards and Open Giclee Prints to the Association with STEADY interest growing for our products. The Association recently acquired the lease and management interest in the Eagles Heritage. Out of this new venture has come a need to establish a new visitor centre with Local products available to visitors. The link to the full Press Release is here:

Throughout each of the last several years I have produced a list of paintings that I would like to complete over the coming months. While I never stick to the planning I benefit from it by reminding myself of the attractive subjects that I can have a go at. This is very handy when you have those days of uncertainty and don’t know what to do with yourself- it often happens after completing a larger or more complex painting. And late last year I added a few Owls to the list while not knowing that a couple of months later I would be asked to produce some pictures of our local owls and other birds of prey.

The portrait of the Wedge-tailed Eagle is based totally upon the WT Eagle that is kept at Eagles Heritage.

The Masked Owl was a difficult subject. I had put off painting a Barn or Masked Owl because of the complex markings on their wings. And I had only Internet images to use for reference and these varied so much that I was a bit lost as to what was most suitable form or morph I should use. In the end we have what we have: a masked Owl looking out over it’s domain in the evening light, and this renders some colours a little darker that if the bird were placed in bright daylight.

The final New painting for the Eagle’s Heritage shop products is actually a drawing completed using Faber-Castell Pitt Oil pencils. The Lesser Sooty Owl is another bird with very complex markings that are very hard to “read” and transpose to a sheet of paper. This drawing developed as I went along and it finished with an eerie look in a dark forest.

All three of these pictures will be available through the Eagles heritage Shop once the renovations are completed. Or you can order through our website here:

Posted on Leave a comment

Australian Birds in natural settings- the essence of Australian Bird Art

Splendid View of the Ridge Churchill Scan

Australian birds can be found in the bush, on waterways, in urban areas and around rural properties. Some birds are more recognizable for their urban predominance rather than occurring in their historically natural environment. Silver Gulls and in recent years in Western Australia- the noisy vandalising Corellas.

When it comes to creating a composition to feature a native bird, I weigh-up the various options which might best represent the natural habitat of that species of bird. Black Cockatoos dwell in Wandoo forest as do Galahs and many other parrots. And because I love the old gnarled Wandoo trees then I automatically merge the birds onto the Wandoo branches. Scarlet Robins, Western Rosellas, Willie Wagtails and 28 Parrots can be frequently found in the edges of the forest bordering along pasture land and even feeding in the pastureland. It seems to me that old fence posts are just so natural a place to find these species of birds; it seems OK therefore to place these birds on old mossy posts.

As a bird watcher I am happy to see birds in natural and semi-natural habitats. And when considering a new painting design I fail to accept that placing a bird  on a stick or on a shadow to make a quick simplistic illustration and present it as a serious painting is for me. I want more from the effort.

The challenge of creating a composition that incorporates a natural habitat for a bird to be found in (in real life) is what makes a painting worthwhile and authentic. People who view my work and acquire paintings frequently state that the authentically natural habitat or setting is what they appreciate about my paintings. That is where or when I get enormous satisfaction.

My aim is to produce work that clearly falls within the description or classification of what can be called Australian Bird Art.