Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Artists and Birds

I've seen a lot of White-throated Sparrows recently. They're a common winter visitor, though rarely in our own backyard. The ones with a white supercilium are particularly striking.

As I looked through the photos I've taken of them I was struck by the one I used for the 6x8 inch watercolor and gouache above. Why? The sense of sculpture. The way the line of the upperside of the tail worked with the downsweep of the primary feathers and the forward stance of feet to create an amazing sense of balance. To me this seemed particularly sculptural.

That it turn got me thinking about how many aesthetic qualities there are in birds, qualities that I think make them particularly appealing to artists, even if they've never been naturalistic artists. Between the shapes, the balance of complex poses, the textures, the color and their movement there is just a wealth of qualities that almost any artist might find intriguing.

Add to that the appeal of someone who is actually a birder, or maybe someone who is just a conservationist and I think you can see why so many artists have an interest in birds. Many are not bird artists. But I wouldn't be surprised if many of them, in the back of their minds, aren't half-tempted.

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