birds

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Animation

An Anxious Bird Braves His Fear of Flying in a Charming Animated Short

April 14, 2021

Grace Ebert

Dougal is a nervous little bird with an overwhelming dread for an activity he’s supposed to instinctively enjoy: he’s afraid to fly. A charming short film written and directed by Conor Finnegan follows Dougal as he hunkers down in the north for the winter. Throughout his journey, the anxious creature faces a multitude of obstacles, from a blustery trudge through a snowstorm to the threat of a thieving squirrel, before finally deciding to join his friends down south.

Seamlessly combining live-action puppetry and stop-motion techniques, “Fear of Flying” is a collaborative project—Finnegan details the entire process in an interview with Short of the Week—that involved Fallover Bros and Renate Henschke crafting the flock of wide-eyed avians and a larger team of 14 or 15 creatives aiding in production.

Watch more of Finnegan’s light-hearted animations, which include one detailing an unusual friendship between Rock, Paper, and Scissors and another about a dutiful character named Fluffy McCloud, on his agency’s site.

 

 

 



Photography

Shots of Snuggling Swans and Ravenous Shags Best the 2021 Bird Photographer of the Year Contest

April 2, 2021

Grace Ebert

Image © Brian Matthews, European shag. All images © Bird Photographer of the Year, shared with permission

This year’s Bird Photographer of the Year contest (previously) highlights a variety of avian adventures from a mallard duckling chasing a fly and an impatient shag to a hamerkop ruthlessly tossing a toad in the air. Now in its sixth year, the annual competition released a selection of finalists this week from more than 22,000 entries spanning 73 countries that capture a range of playful, intimate, and sometimes merciless moments. 2021’s winners will be announced in September. See some of Colossal’s favorite shots below, and pre-order the book compiling more than 200 photographs on the contest’s site.

 

Image © Andy Parkinson, mute swan

Image © Daniel Zhang, hamerkop

Image © Mark Williams, Eurasian nuthatch

Image © Gábor Li, shags

Image © James Wilcox, American Oystercatcher

Image © Zdeněk Jakl, mallard duck

Image © Li Ying Lou, red-crowned crane

Image © David White, swallow

 

 



Illustration Photography

Meticulous Digital Works Layer Petals, Leaves, and Natural Textures into Fantastic Creatures

March 9, 2021

Grace Ebert

Detail of “Kulu.” All images © Josh Dykgaaf, shared with permission

Melbourne-based artist Josh Dykgraaf has a discerning eye for matching two seemingly disparate elements. In his ongoing Terraforms series, autumn leaves become feathers, magnolia petals wind into scales, and plumes form fins that swish through water. Each illustration merges flora and fauna into an entirely new fantastical creature, and a single piece can take days to complete, with the pair of Tawny Frogmouths, for example, clocking in at 55 hours and more than 3,000 layers.

“My process for how I pair natural textures with animals is usually a bit like cloud gazing—like as a kid, did you ever stare up out the clouds and make out different forms and shapes among them?” Dykgraaf says, noting that he takes all of his own photographs of the source materials on hikes or walks around his neighborhood. Once he returns to his studio, he painstakingly collages the extraordinary creatures, coating a closed beak in bark or an echidna in regrown brush following the East Gippsland fires.

In the coming months, Dykgraaf is shifting to a portrait series focused on Indigenous people around the world. His digital works will be included in The Other Art Fair in Sydney from March 18 to 21 and the virtual edition, which runs March 23 to 28. Until then, see a larger collection of the intricately constructed creatures on Behance and Instagram, and pick up a print from his shop. (via designboom)

 

Detail of “Tawu Tawu”

Detail of “Burooli”

“Bunyjul”

Detail of “Kulu”

Left: “Burooli.” Right: “Thaumus”

“Kulu”

“Tawu Tawu”

“Tjirilya”

 

 



Art

A Flurry of Feathers and Leaves Surround Spirited Birds in Fio Silva's Vivid Murals

March 5, 2021

Grace Ebert

Castelar, Buenos Aires. All images @ Fio Silva, shared with permission

Fio Silva tucks clusters of oversized birds and botanicals into otherwise stark urban spaces, creating striking murals awash in puffs of feathers, petals, and leaves. The Buenos Aires-based artist focuses largely on movement, a thread that runs through both the vivid renderings of winged subjects as they appear to take flight or perch for just a moment. “It was that lack of stillness through work and searching for walls to paint that I found meaning in my time,” Silva tells Colossal.

When working in color, the artist starts with blues, yellows, and reds before expanding the palette based on the “moods and to intensify, in some way, what I want to convey, if it is something rather clear, bright, or something… more subdued or desolate,” Silva says. “When I paint, I try to convey a certain force, that by seeing it or sharing it I can move someone, in whatever way.”

Silva plans to complete a few murals in Argentina during the next few months and will travel to Europe during the summer, with an exhibition of smaller paintings slated for October in Paris. Keep up with the artist’s monumental public works on Instagram.

 

Olivos, Buenos Aires

General Roca, Rio Negro

Olivos, Buenos Aires

Left: Berlin, Germany. Right: Belsh, Albania

General Roca, Rio Negro

Patos, Albania

Patos, Albania

 

 



Amazing Photography

Countless Starlings Flock Together in a Miraculous Bird-Shaped Murmuration Over Lough Ennell

March 4, 2021

Christopher Jobson

Image © James Crombie, licensed for use

After months of chasing starlings alongside his colleague Colin Hogg, Dublin-based photographer James Crombie captured a phenomenal shot of the flock as it swelled into an enormous bird-like murmuration. Hogg recorded the awe-inspiring experience in a short clip that shows the winged formation taking shape and hovering over Lough Ennell, a lake near Mullingar in central Ireland.

Crombie is known for his sports photography, and last week, he was named Press Photographer of the Year for his shot of a fan perched on a ladder watching the semi-final between St. Brigid’s and Boyle from the edge of a graveyard. Follow Crombie’s work that takes him to soccer fields, bucolic landscapes, and remote marshes on Instagram. You also might enjoy this series documenting murmurations over Danish marshlands.

 

 

 



Art Craft

Intricate Paper Animals Spring from Textured Sculptures by Artist Calvin Nicholls

March 1, 2021

Anna Marks

All images © Calvin Nicholls, shared with permission

In Calvin Nicholls’s sculptural forms, feathered and furry creatures are meticulously crafted from small pieces of white paper. When viewed up-close, their texture resembles the fullness of a wintery landscape, but in full form, the Canadian artist’s animals are so vivid that they appear as though they could leap, fly, and spring out of the canvas. Nicholls (previously) seamlessly examines and sculpts every detail of an animal’s body, from the difference in plume texture in doves to the strained muscles of a giraffe to the intoxicating stare of a tiger stalking its prey.  

Every work is crafted from archival cotton paper that prevents yellowing and fading. Nicholls uses minuscule amounts of glue to secure the individual pieces, employing knives and texturing tools to precisely sculpt each delicate part. For the artist, crafting fur and feathers are equally challenging, and how long a piece will take is difficult to predict. He shares:

The largest sculptures I’ve done require several hundreds of hours while the more modest pieces keep me busy for two or more weeks. Familiarity with the subject is a big factor as well. My love of birds often propels me through pieces much faster than when sculpting subjects with (an) emphasis on musculature and structure.

Nicholls’s fascination with paper as a medium stems from graphic design classes in college, in addition to later collaborations with a colleague. These experiences further forged his interest in experimenting with various materials and papers that he had become familiar with through the graphics trade.

Follow additions to Nicholls’s monochromatic menagerie on Behance and Instagram, and see the originals and prints he has available in his shop.