All Posts · Animal tales · French Life · Writing and Illustrating

Mad about the birds

From previous posts you probably gather I am starting out on a new journey to get back into art that I abandoned as a teenager.

Part of that journey over the past year has been sourcing inspirational art, studying art techniques and amassing what’s beginning to be quite an extensive library of books dedicated to bird art.

I never intended to paint birds. All those feathers. Complex. But having somehow become a chicken mumma to nearly twenty and geese, ducks and now eight boisterous guinea fowl, I starting sketching them for fun. That was the lightbulb moment, or in my case the cracked egg in my pocket! I never could fathom what I wanted to illustrate. Landscapes became muddy. Flowers were fine and had the intense colour I love but I wanted character too. I started searching for bird artists and a whole new world opened up. The sheer diversity of styles and the legacy of bird art fascinated me.

As I began to seek out books by some of the artists I really felt a buzz about, I came across lesser known illustrators whose work was at some time past greatly favoured, but like so many fashion trends, had lost popularity. For example the artist I am mentioning here today, illustrated game birds, books on shooting and hunting. The American shooting hobby is strong and there is even a group of bird artists who produce stamps celebrating this in an annual competition. In England this type of art is less popular. We dislike blood sports. In France Sunday is hunting day, but I haven’t researched yet if hunting dogs chasing pheasant is popular or not for French art.

So having sketched a few little studies of my own birds I realized like any pursuit that needed to be taken seriously, I needed to study. This book, for example, has wonderful ink illustrations showing detail of feathers, feet, flight angles and birds doing what birds do, preening, splashing, hunting and diving.

My own feathered gang will ultimately provide me with a sketchbook full of ideas but I am enjoying the growing library and as in the book here, seeking out rare volumes and out of print editions.

So here is my latest find. One of a limited print run, this artist I admire for his use of movement and observing how birds actually look when they fly or land. That takes years of observation and I am very much in awe of his talent. But you have to start somewhere and I have never felt this enthusiastic about any other subject. I never thought I would have such an expanding flock of my own too and it just seems natural to combine it all and stick with the birds.

If you love art, what is your favorite artist or genre? If it’s also birds and your happy to share one of your illustrations, I would love to see them.

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