Monday, 19 December 2011

On Life-changing Books - part two -

I found this French book of the American bird artist Louis Agassiz Fuertes in a second-hand book stall at the summer Sunday street market in my hometown Porto Recanati. I was a teenager and at that time I had no idea about who this artist was, but I was into watercolours and birds and the book was a good bargain and I could read French. I was surprised to read that he was self-taught and also stricken to see the level of detail and yet expression and movement.

Red-breasted Merganser ©Louis Agassiz Fuertes

At 22, self-taught, Fuertes (1874-1927) was considered the most talented American bird artist of the time. An intimate knowledge of his subjects' lives and behaviours allowed him to truthfully represent birds expressions and attitudes combined with an exact ornithological rendering.
He took part as an artist and illustrator in ornithological expeditions and scientific explorations over USA, Greater Antilles, Mexico, Colombia, and Ethiopia. Definitely an inspiring life.

Killdeer ©Louis Agassiz Fuertes

He used to work from life, patiently and rigorously observing the living bird relying on his prodigious visual memory to flawlessly capture expressions and attitudes, he also worked from dead specimens to take life-size measurements and other details both drawn and written very thoroughly.
I found a beautiful website-archive with many of his paintings and sketches which is really worth a visit, click here, I hope you'll enjoy.

Common Potoo ©Louis Agassiz Fuertes

And this is also the last post for this year, with many more on the way about my latest endeavours, I would like to wish all the readers and followers, regardless of what religion you may follow, if any,  a good time spent with loved ones, and best hopes for the new year to come.
Take care                                     Matteo

Monday, 12 December 2011

On Life-changing Books - part one -

When I was a kid, my mother, knowing about my passion for drawing and nature, got me a book which I regard now as one of those few that propelled me into seeing things in a different way. The book is called 'La natura e' meravigliosa' or 'Nature is Wonderful' in English, but the original Dutch title is 'Een zucht van verwondering', published in 1990. A huge collection of watercolour paintings and drawings, detailed yet as simple and humble as nature can be in her smallest forms: nests, insects, leaves, animals and birds, which all together narrated the events of nature, the changing tides, the migration of birds, the change of season, life between the dunes of sand by the northern seas, and then into the woods and the countryside of the Netherlands. Everything was narrated by a crystal clear text explaining the ways of nature and the interaction with man. I was stricken by the simple beauty of bare pencil and watercolour.

© Marjolein Bastin

After this book I decided I would have become a watercolourist. Marjolein Bastin (1943), the artist behind it, is Dutch, and clearly shows how the closer we look the more we see. Her strong bond with every living being, no matter how small and ordinary, has always been part of her life and has motivated her to start drawing and sharing her discoveries to the world. Worldwide renowned for her illustrations and licensing products, Marjolein Bastin has never stopped looking at things with the curious eyes of a child, capturing the hidden and overlooked beauties of nature, just as she sees them, imperfect, yet beautiful, small, yet no less important.

© Marjolein Bastin

Nature artist, writer, children's author and illustrator, Marjolein Bastin divides her time drawing inspiration from the nature of her homeland, the Netherlands, Missouri, Cayman Island and Switzerland.
Her books are among my most treasured ones, still reminding me to look at things closer to find something more and new and to change my point of view to find a new perspective.
© Marjolein Bastin

Monday, 5 December 2011

Avian Faces - Bush-stone Curlews

With this painting I wanted to focus on the variety of different expressions that I could notice in the Bush-stone Curlew, Burhinus grallarius. The bottom right bird looks 'sad' but I wouldn't say the bird was actually sad, the way they are able to move their feathers, especially around their eyes and beak, allows them to appear different according to their mood or need to communicate with other birds. I noticed this is even truer for nocturnal birds, probably due to the bigger size of their eyes. It is amazing and surprising how quickly and suddenly birds can change their appearance.

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