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History Illustration Science

All 435 Illustrations from John J Audubon’s ‘Birds of America’ Are Available for Free Download

October 22, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Pinnated Grouse, plate 186

If you’ve been looking for an opportunity to download free high resolution images of 435 bird illustrations, you’re finally in the right place. The National Audubon Society has recently made John James Audubon’s seminal Birds of America available to the public in a downloadable digital library (signing up for their email list is a prerequisite).

Birds of America was printed between 1827 and 1838, and was filled prints created from hand-engraved plates based on Audubon’s original watercolor paintings. In addition to the prints, each bird’s page also includes a recording of the animal’s call, plus extensive written texts from the period of the book’s printing.

Audubon is widely lauded as the individual who brought an awareness and appreciation of birds’ beauty and fragility; the National Audubon Society has been active since 1905. Explore more of the Society’s current conservation efforts, as well as ways to get involved, on their website. (via Open Culture)

Roseate Spoonbill, plate 321

American Magpie, plate 357

Sharp-tailed Finch, plate 149

Sooty Tern, plate 235

Summer, or Wood Duck, plate 206

Spotted Grouse, plate 176

American Flamingo, plate 431

 

 



Art Craft

Hand-Built Paper Birds by Niharika Rajput Draw Attention to Endangered Avians

October 4, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

A detailed structural plan, hundreds of hand-fringed feathers, a custom-built wire armature: these are just some of the components artist Niharika Rajput uses to create her life-like paper birds. Rajput directly ties her art practice to conservation efforts by running campaigns to spread awareness of endangered species around the world.

To create her intricate sculptures, Rajput studies the anatomy of each bird, from its wing and tail structures to different types of feathers and facial features. The artist tells Colossal that she initially experimented with fiber and wire mesh, but found that paper best replicated the structure and texture of feathers. After creating a sketch of all the component body parts, Rajput begins the labor-intensive assembly process, which is complete once she has added finishing touches with acrylic paint.

The artist explains that she has had a lifelong affinity for wildlife and birds in particular, cemented by her family moving around a lot; nature was a steady presence even as Rajput’s built surroundings changed. As an adult, a visit to the Himalayas reconnected the artist to her passion for birds.

“As an artist I find it almost impossible to compete with nature’s sophisticated mechanisms and designs,” Rajput shares with Colossal. “I have taken this project on, to reach that level of perfection which can be applauded with a great sense of wonder by my audience and also acts as a reminder of what’s out there and needs to be protected.”

See more of Rajput’s sculptures on Instagram and Twitter. Original works are also available for purchase on Etsy. (via Colossal Submissions)

 

 



Art

Tiny Metal Plants, Animals, and Buildings are Liberated From Coins by Artist Micah Adams

August 31, 2019

Andrew LaSane

Toronto-based artist Micah Adams uses a jeweler’s saw to cut out the embossed animals, figures, and objects from coins of different sizes and denominations. The metal cut-outs are used to create tiny readymades and fun collages. From a growing pile of copper leaves taken from Canadian pennies, to intricate birds and flowers borrowed from foreign currency, each of Micah Adams works are hand cut using the same basic tool. Working at a smaller scale is something that the artist came to in art college while making sculptures and spending his free time in the jewelry and metal smithing department. The practice of cutting coins evolved out of using other materials.

“I was making small assemblages from things I’d collected over the years, tiny things like toys, bottle caps, beach finds and even teeth,” Adams tells Colossal. “Then I cast them in metal. They were like tiny bronzes or miniature monuments. That lead me to look for tiny things that were already metal that I could use. So I looked at coins and their designs for things I could cut-out.”

Micah Adams is currently working on another solo exhibition of his coin collages and other works which will open at MKG127 in Toronto in February 2020. He also has an Etsy shop where he sells earrings, tie tacks, and other keepsakes. For future updates and to see more of his art, follow Adams on Instagram.

 

 



Art

Stop-Motion Animation Shows a Bird’s POV of the Exotic Pet Industry

August 18, 2019

Andrew LaSane

Animator and director Evan DeRushie‘s recent short film “Birdlime” is about an exotic breed that escapes capture just to find itself injured and caged anyway. Birdlime features handcrafted and stop-motion animated human hands, tropical trees, other birds, and gibberish sounds in place of dialogue. The colorful kid-friendly film shows the versatility of the medium for fun, engaging, and artful storytelling.

Inspired by a trip to Thailand and his introduction to the exotic pet industry, DeRushie had the idea to the tell the story from the bird’s point of view. The characters are made from dyed and painted cushion foam. Working alone, the animator designed everything so that it would last long shoots with limited camera angles and edits.

“Thinking about the way that animals are represented in animation, and the effects in the real world (like how clown fish populations were decimated directly after Finding Nemo), I started seeing animation as a powerful and scary tool,” DeRushie said in a statement. “With this in mind, I tried to portray a respectful relationship between human and animal, and to treat the bird without too much anthropomorphism. I also wanted the film to feel like you were in the cage with the main character, and to be a bit confused by the world.”

DeRushie is the co-owner of the Toronto-based animation studio Stop Motion Department Inc.. Prior to “Birdlime” he animated and set-supervised 2015’s The Little Prince and was a part of the team that animated the short film “The Fox and the Chickadee,” which played in numerous festivals around the world. To see more of his work, click through to his official website.

Images via Short of the Week

 

 



Photography

Birds Hunt, Hide, and Blow Impressive Smoke Rings in a Selection of Images from the 2019 Audubon Photography Awards

July 25, 2019

Kate Sierzputowski

Red-winged Blackbird. Photo: Kathrin Swoboda/Audubon Photography Awards

The Audubon Photography Awards are celebrating their tenth year with an array of bird images that capture moments often missed by the human eye. In the contest’s grand prize winning photo, amateur photographer Kathrin Swoboda presents a red-winged blackbird emitting what appears to be perfect rings of smoke from its beak into the cold morning air. Another image by photographer Kevin Ebi catches an unbelievable rabbit theft in which a bald eagle struggles to steal dinner from an unsuspecting fox.

A new category revealed in this year’s contest is Plants for Birds, which honors Audubon’s Plants for Birds program. The category asked photographers to present unique depictions of birds alongside local plant life, as a way to addresses the importance of native plants to the survival of surrounding wildlife. This winner of the inaugural award was the San Diego-based photographer Michael Schulte who presented a hooded oriole gathering bits of palm fibers for a nest. You can see the rest of this year’s award winners on Audubon’s website.

Great Blue Herons. Photo: Melissa Rowell/Audubon Photography Awards

Bald Eagle and red fox. Photo: Kevin Ebi/Audubon Photography Awards

Horned Puffin (captive). Photo: Sebastian Velasquez/Audubon Photography Awards

Hooded Oriole on a California fan palm. Photo: Michael Schulte/Audubon Photography Awards

Greater Sage-Grouse. Photo: Elizabeth Boehm/Audubon Photography Awards

 

 



Photography Science

A Rainbow of Light Diffracts Through Hummingbird Wings in Photographs by Christian Spencer

July 18, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

All images © Christian Spencer. Shared with permission from the artist.

Australian photographer Christian Spencer has lived within Brazil’s Itatiaia National Park for nineteen years. The lush natural surroundings offer a multitude of photo opportunities ranging from pumpkin toadlets to false coral snakes. One of Spencer’s most fascinating finds is the way that light diffracts through the wings of hummingbirds in flight, resulting in a rainbow of colors within the birds’ feathers. The photographer has been following the petite birds for years, and his film recording of the phenomenon was included in his award-winning 2011 short film, The Dance of Time.

More recently, Spencer has returned to these full spectrum moments. Each image in the artist’s hummingbird series captures sunlight filtering through the wings and tail of a black and white Jacobin hummingbird. Despite our age of post-production and photo manipulation, the images were not digitally manipulated; the visual phenomenon is naturally occurring.’WINGED PRISM’ (below) won a prize at the Museum of Modern Art in Resende RJ Brazil, and is available as a fine art print on Spencer’s website. You can follow along with Spencer’s animal encounters and nature-inspired paintings on Instagram. (via My Modern Met)

“WINGED PRISM”

 

 

 



Art

Human-Bird Hybrid Sculptures by Calvin Ma Interpret Social Experiences

July 2, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

“This Is Me Today”, all images courtesy of Calvin Ma

Sculptor Calvin Ma channels his experience of social anxiety into imaginative ceramic sculptures that fuse human characters with birds. The avian elements act as suits of armor, protecting the person from the outside world, and reflect Ma’s personality in fight or flight situations. Carefully articulated feathers cover the surface of each sculpture, from the mask-like bird headdresses to the arms and torso of the humanoid figure. In previous bodies of work, the artist has used houses as his metaphor with walls, windows, and chimneys forming the protective outer shell of each sculpture.

“I never really felt comfortable in my own skin in social settings, so I created these characters to help tell stories about it,” Ma tells Colossal. “Each piece is meant to act out a specific social anxiety related experience. I try not to get too dark or serious with the work and really try to have fun with it.”

The Bay Area-based artist has a two-person show with Erika Sanada (who is also married to Ma) at Sherrie Gallerie in Columbus, Ohio from July 28 to September 3, 2019, and a solo exhibition at Antler Gallery in Portland, Oregon opening on November 28. Alongside these shows, Ma will also be sharing pieces in at SOFA Expo in Chicago and at Haven Gallery in Long Island, in late October and mid-December, respectively. You can explore more of the artist’s sculptures on Instagram.

“Butterflies”

“In The Clouds”

“One Of The Crowd”

“Flight”

“Caught Up”

“Bloom”

“Take The Leap”

“Forager”

 

 

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