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Kangaroos in Brisbane

A few years ago I painted a series of small paintings of kangaroos from Lone Pine on the outskirts of the Brisbane suburbs. I would often take my sketchbook and camera and spend the day drawing and sketching these amazing animals. The koalas made better models as they kept so sleepily still but the movement and attitude of the larger marsupials kept me captivated.

The following six paintings are 30x30cm oil on stretched canvas. 3.5cm depth. They are currently available in the gallery and would look wonderful in a grouped wall arrangement. They are also available in my STORE if you click above.

"Small Kangaroo - Daydream Believer"

Some of these kangaroos also had daytime naps and were therefore perfect sleeping models for drawing and painting. The front paw in this one is an amazing piece of engineering. The backgrounds for this series are composed of multiple washes and drips of acrylic paint and the final painting is done in oils. They are sealed with varnish.

"Small Kangaroo - Ready"

Kangaroos rarely make eye-contact but as I stood in front of this little guy he nevertheless indicated by his body language that he was ready to either nibble the food in my packet or hop away for better prospects. You will notice that he has one ear cocked to the front and one to the back. Kangaroo ears swivel continuously so they can capture every sound in the vicinity. Note the long eyelashes also. I have almost filled the canvas with the head of this boy and his body forms a lovely design of a foreshortened circle.

"Small Kangaroo - Panting"

The trunk of a large tree forms the background to this one, strong sunlight hitting the right hand side. The kangaroo is seeking a piece of shade as he lies on his side in a typical sphinx position. His little pink tongue is poking out in a little curl as he pants to keep cool. An irresistible little face with ears facing front like a bunny rabbit. I had some fun with the textural layering here, especially while painting the tree.

"Small Kangaroo - Twisting"

This twisting kangaroo forms the most amazing abstract arrangement of shapes simply by standing still and turning his head. You can see one of his back legs parallel to the front picture plane between his front "arms". On the right his thick powerful tail casts a strong shadow. I had the opportunity here to paint a full head profile. From the side the skull is a lot more horse-like than one would realise. The ears are swivelling away from each other. This is much more grassy spot for munching and I could add a lot more green to my palette. It is a harmony in green, rust, grey and white. A thoroughly modern kangaroo with his eye on current decorating trends...

"Small Kangaroo - Dozing"

I was very happy with this one as a tonal or value study with dark and light sides of the composition to capture the strong sunlight. The kangaroo adopts the side lying position, up on one "elbow", eyes closed, lightly dozing but not asleep yet. The profile of the nose and chin is lovely and clear against the pale painted fur. Again note the ears, alert and covering both sides of the surroundings.

"Small Kangaroo - Curious"

This is actually my favourite kangaroo in the whole paddock. He was so inquisitive and alert to every movement and sound and of course the possibility of food from my bag of kangaroo feed. It is much more complicated composition than the others due to his position standing with front paws hanging, ears and nose on the move. He has such a boyish young demeanour. In the background you can see the boundary and a patch of yummy green grass.

This whole series is a celebration of the real kangaroos I encountered as different characters. So many depictions of the animals (by other artists) are often cartoonish and even clownish. I have attempted to capture the real animals in a setting that both they and I are comfortable in. I have kept my palette as true to nature as possible and working plein air as much as I can, I think the authenticity comes through in the paintings. What do you think?

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