Friday, November 07, 2008

Bird Art and The Orkney Book of Birds

Tracy Hall has been producing detailed watercolour paintings of Orkney birds for the last four years with a goal in mine. This week, the goal was reached and The Orkney Book of Birds, a joint venture between Tracy and ornithologist and author Tim Dean, was finally published.

The book is totally unique. It focuses on almost 200 birds you are most likely to find in Orkney and offers outstanding watercolours of each species in an instantly recognisable island setting.

Both Tim and Tracy live in the Orkney Islands and both bring an expert eye to their subject matter.
  • Tim has spent a lifetime in Ornithology and his role has been to provide a detailed and expert commentary of each bird: when and where you might see them in the islands; how easy or difficult they are to find and what local name Orcadians might have for them.
  • Tracy is an award-winning watercolour artist who has created 50 stunning full colour plates depicting 178 Orkney localities in which she has reproduced each bird in meticulous detail to aid identification.
I expect all my readers who love wildlife are also avid followers of Tracy's blog Watercolour Artist in which she focuses on animal and wildlife art. I know that when I first started reading it, I was immediately struck by the absolutely fantastic paintings Tracy was producing for the Orkney Book of Birds - and which were displayed on the blog. You can read Tracy's post about the publication of the book here. Copies signed by Tracy and Tim should soon be available to purchase from her website. It's a great book for any twitcher friend who has yet to pay a visit to the Orkney Islands.

Birds and Art

One of the things I have been particularly struck by in the last two to three years is just how fond people are of paintings of birds. Actually, fond is probably an understatement - besotted might be a more accurate description!
  • The wildlife art exhibitions always seem to be full of paintings of birds which always seem to sell extremely well
  • The magazines for bird watchers seem very keen on giving prizes for paintings of birds and
  • birders, as well as watching birds, seem to be equally enthusiastic about buying paintings of birds and collecting works by particularly well known bird artists.
Books on birds are also very popular - with perhaps Audubon's Birds of America being the most popular.

The Birds of America is the title of a book by naturalist and painter John James Audubon, containing paintings and scientific description of a wide variety of birds of the United States. It was first published as a series of sections between 1827 and 1838.

The work consists of hand-colored, life-size prints made from engraved plates measuring around 39 by 26 inches. The original edition was engraved in aquatint by Robert Havell Sr. and son, Robert Havell Jr.; known as the "Double Elephant folio", it is often regarded as the greatest picture book ever produced. A copy in excellent condition sold at Christie's in March of 2000 for $8,802,500, is still (as of 2007) a world record for any printed book.
Wikipedia - Birds of America (book)

Update: Tracy sent me links to a couple of other good sites for people interested in bird art
  • Birds in Art - an annual international exhibition of bird art held at the the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum. Each year, 60 works are selected from Birds in Art to be included in a national or international tour. The deadline for next year's exhibition is the 15th April 2009.
  • Birds in Art - 2008 - a blog post by Terry Miller (Pencil Shavings) about his inclusion in the Bird in Art show. This has excellent images of the sort of art which gets into the show.
[Note: All paintings and all contents of the book are protected by copyright law and are the colour plates are reproduced here with the kind permission of Tracy Hall. Do not copy.]


1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for the post, Katherine. I didn't know you could see Audubon's book online - off for a look!


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