Artist and Illustrator
(BFA, MFA, PhD)
Bird Paintings and Illustrations ;"Bird Anatomy For Artists" Textbook and Artbook
Sketching is not just a preliminary exercise. Making sketches regularly is not only a good working practice while studying bird construction, but also aids the creative experience of drawing and painting birds. The most successful bird artists sketch birds regularly. Most importantly, the visual records accumulated in fieldwork are an invaluable personal reference for studio drawing. Keeping a field journal and making notes alongside the sketches also enriches the birdwatching experience and refreshes the visual memory back at the studio.
Natalia is an expert in drawing birds. “Bird Anatomy for Artists” by Dr Natalia Balo is a condensed version of her PhD research at the University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia. The book explains the principles of construction of a bird’s body with a focus on the anatomical structure’s impact on the external appearance. Anyone seeking to become more proficient in drawing birds will find this book beneficial. The book has been developed primarily for artists. As a reference, the book will also be of value to ornithologists, vertebrate zoologists and to enthusiastic bird watchers and bird lovers.
Motivation for the book’s research emanated from a lack of literature on this subject. As a practicing visual artist, birds were always an inspiring subject for the author who has been sketching birds from childhood. As a professional artist, Natalia started to feature birds in her paintings and searched for instructive literature on drawing birds. Comprehensive publications that explain the principles of bird anatomy in the same way that human anatomy is taught to artists proved to be virtually non-existent. There are many experienced practitioners in scientific illustration and in the art of bird painting; their knowledge of a bird’s body structure is evident in their competent and impressive artworks. Some of them give very helpful expert advice. However, very little information has been published with a didactic approach to the study of bird anatomy from the artist’s point of view.
This book will help artists understand birds as subjects of an artwork. When bird artists are not aware of the shape-creating aspects of anatomy and perspective, structural and proportional distortions will emerge in their works. Artists can passionately detail birds’ authentic features; however, without an understanding of bird anatomy, their work is at risk of becoming flat and amorphous. In particular, many ornithological illustrations, with refined external detail aspiring to demonstrate scientific expertise are compromised by inaccuracies in the underlying body structure. “Bird Anatomy for Artists” will assist artists in preventing structural mistakes and in achieving the desired eloquence and perfection in their artwork. This book concisely explains a very wide range of shape-creative factors, bringing together anatomical and structural knowledge in a single reference for bird artists.
Anatomy is a significant part of classical art instruction, with the scholarly tradition of anatomical analysis of the human body going back to the time of Renaissance. Anatomy for artists (or plastic anatomy) is the special area of anatomy that informs visual arts, not medicine and science, with emphasis on the underlying skeletal and muscular structures that are directly involved in shaping the outer relief and motor performance of living organisms. Extensive knowledge of structural anatomy of the human body is imperative to becoming proficient in portraying humans. In this book, a similar methodology is applied to learning how to portray birds.
All the illustrations are original artworks of the author, drawn from life and from real museum specimens. The graphic studies of anatomy presented in the book do not claim the quality of scientific exactitude, however, illustrations in general and plates on skeletal structure in particular are prepared with drafting skills accurate enough to provide a visual reference for a biology student. The author has drawn on her extensive teaching experience to sequence the demonstrations from simple to complex, with preliminary sketches designed to illustrate the process of structural analysis in the practice of creating bird portraits.