Art 2 – Audubon – Science Illustration – Due 2/7







15 responses »

  1. The three things that I found most interesting about Audubon were: 1) He left France to avoid conscription into Napoleon’s army. This was significant to me because I had just been learning about Napoleon and the French Revolution in history class. 2) I was also a little amazed that people were skeptical of Napoleon and his work because he had no proper training, although it was clear that he was gifted with his work. 3) I was most surprised that Audubon had a 13 year old boy to help him paint leaves, branches, and plants in his pictures. I assumed that Audubon had painted everything himself. The three most interesting aspects of his artistry: 1) In the photos of art work shown, I could see how he improved over time. In the beginning, the birds looked flatter, and less life-like. 2) I also thought that it was clever of him to add wire to the birds that he caught and stuffed. This helped his position them to look more like he had seen them in life. 3) I did not know that Audubon had also drawn portraits of people with black chalk, and those were quite impressive as well. I like this picture,

    of the Carolina parakeets for three reasons. One, because we have a print of it at home that I look at. Two, because he captured the mischievous and clever look that parrots have. Three, because the Carolina parakeets are extinct.

    • I’m so glad he didn’t become a soldier since he gave us so much through his artwork. Nice assessment of the vitality of the Carolina parakeets matching the nature of the birds. And I think he was brave to include so many interacting in one picture plane. Now that’s a risk-taking artist!

  2. I found it interesting that overtime Audubon was able to make such great strides in his ability as an artist. It is also interesting that he is self-taught. I found it surprising that he oftentimes had other artists paint his backgrounds. In general, I admire his determination to pursue his passions and I applaud that, after being financially ruined and experiencing a time of despairs, he picked himself up and put his life back together so successfully. I also admire that he never let the words of others deter him. In Audubon’s paintings, I love his attention to detail as well as the richness and warmth of the colors he uses. I also like his compositions; I find them very aesthetically pleasing. I also find it interesting that he used double elephant paper. One of my favorite paintings is “Tropic Bird.” I love the composition of the piece. The direction of the birds’ bodies / tails guides the viewer’s eye in a full circle. I like the contrast of motion between the standing bird and the swooping bird. I also love how the birds’ vibrant white and black bodies and yellow beaks are illuminated again the dark and stormy sky and brown rocks.

    • It is interesting that he had assistants helping him with the background but that is a tradition that was practiced before modern times. It gets interesting when the assistant goes on to become well known like Leonardo who worked on Verrocchio’s backgrounds. I don’t think his assistant went on to recognition though. I think circles play a big role in the unity of many of his works. It makes sense because it reinforces the sense of movement and life energy too.

  3. 1) I found it interesting that he was:
    self-taught, He wasn’t at his full potential right away, and had significant change
    He traved A LOT. It makes sense, because he drew different types of birds, but I found it interesting that his family rarely came with him.
    He left france to escape the draft. He came to America because of chance, but did great paintings there.
    2) He didn’t do the backgrounds, his friends did. DId he credit them?
    The birds were in dramatic poses, which made them not quite science illustrations
    He did portraits, but put his same techniques in them as the birds, like (at first) doing profiles
    I like this because I see blue herons in Santa Cruz, and he made it really lifelike and did its form justice.

    • You have asked some important questions. It would be interesting to research some of his assistants and whether or not they did work on their own. You are right about the drama as a departure from the science – at least that’s what caused problems with some ornithologists. The work you linked is so beautiful in the wing and body area – they abstract rhythms are magnificent!

  4. 1. I thought it was really interesting how much of a fascination birds were to him. I figured it must have been a big deal to him because of his famous studies of birds, but it was interesting to see throughout the movie how birds were always an inspiration to him, and a major part of his life. Another interesting thing I learned was how he lost everything financially, but still used his art skills to make money and eventually be able to travel to work on his “Birds of America.” I also thought it was interesting that he worked on portraits. Like Octavia mentioned, I noticed that his early portraits had bird-like qualities. I think it’s nice when artists can work with a variety of different subjects.

    2. Three interesting parts of artistry were:
    -The way his art, while being very realistic, had a little bit of his own artistic flair added to it (as the narrator pointed out in the beginning of the movie)
    -His observation not only to the looks of the birds he painted, but also their behavioral characteristics that can be seen by the poses he put them in
    -The development of his art and increase in detail

    3. One of my favorite works by Audubon was this heron image: because I think it’s amazing how he captured such intricate and fine feathers. I also think the use of color was especially beautiful in this piece, as the blues are very rich.

  5. 1. – I really liked that he traveled westward and how his travels influenced his artwork
    – It’s particularly interesting that he wasn’t quite scientific with his paintings, though that seems to be their aim. They’re more cartoon-ey.
    – The scientific purpose for some of his works plays into the industrial revolution timeline.

    2. – The style and flair that his drawings have. Very Disney-esque and whimsical.
    – He was self taught, and the development of his artwork shows that he continued to try to teach himself through his entire career.
    – Each bird seems to have its own distinct personality. It’s clear that Audubon really put a lot of thought into his work.

    3. I think my favorite piece by Audubon is his Flamingo. I’m painting a flamingo for class, and I really love the bright, eccentric feeling of the image.

  6. 1. Interesting aspects of his life/career:
    -I liked hearing about his exotic attire and how it made him more popular, especially in England.
    -His true passion was drawing birds but along the way, he did black chalk portraiture for income
    -His family (two sons and wife) helped him to complete his work on he Double Elephant and his Birds of America

    2. Interesting aspects of artistry:
    -I thought it was very interesting that he drew the birds while Mason and Laymond helped with the tree branches and the landscape.
    -Added a sense of drama in his images as well as scientific accuracy
    -He took dead birds and set them up with wire to accurately portray them in the way he saw them in nature… He actually hunted the birds… Quirky!
    -He puts drawing and watercolor together that creates a more dimensional image- more lifelike.


    I really enjoy the detail work on the duck. I think that the simplicity of the background adds to the effect of the bird. He portrays it as if it is speaking or yelling. I find that he uses really earthy tones to depict the birds and he compliments this by simple backgrounds or ones with laid back color tones.

  7. In my opinion, Audubon has many important and interesting aspects of his art career. Like in his age of 18 when he came to America. It is the most important thing of his whole life. And his meeting with his student Mason who has great talents in drawing leaves and trees. Mason gives lots of support to Audubon’s paintings. In late of his life, he met George who supports him with many and drawing backgrounds is also very important.
    I can also see many special skills Audubon showed on his paintings. His work is close to life, all birds in his work looks real. Not many artists can control three-demision work well but he does. His liner technique is great.,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.&bvm=bv.42080656,d.cGE&biw=1600&bih=757&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=isch&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi&,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.&bvm=bv.42080656,d.cGE&biw=1600&bih=757&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=isch&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi&,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.&bvm=bv.42080656,d.cGE&biw=1600&bih=757&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=isch&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi&

    These works are like a movie, they are active with great shape comparing to the real birds.

  8. i thought it was interesting how he kept a journal and always wrote in it about his travels and the many birds he painted and drew. all his paintings were so detailed. i think he had his own unique style to his work and there were so many little details that gave each painting a great effect. he had a deep feeling for nature and i think that helped influence his paintings to make them more realistic because he was always out observing nature and watching birds. i thought it was interesting how some people thought some of his paintings were to dramatic. i did not really get the feel that they were to dramatic. i liked them a lot and its also really cool how mason and laymond helped with the landscapes and the background while he painted the birds. it was also very interesting how much he loved birds. it was interesting that he would just use dead birds and set up the scene he liked and painted it. i thought that was a little bit weird though.

    i like this painting of the brown pelican.

    • Great point about how important his feeling for birds was to motivate the refinements he got in his realism. If he didn’t care much about the birds, he wouldn’t have pushed for such perfection!

  9. I thought it was interesting how eventually he got his wife and kids involved to keep himself financially afloat. I thought it was cool that he was not formally trained as an artist or scientist but made a living off of teaching art and science. I found it particularly interesting that he is such a well known artist but art was more just his way of making a living more than anything else. He put wires in dead birds. I thought it was cool that he hand colored metal plate prints. I enjoy that he exaggerated the movement of the birds. This painting is probably my favorite. I ove the shape and detail in the nest and the chemastry between the birds. Also the colors I think are very accurate.

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