Friday, June 13, 2003

The bird drawings I did at the natural history drawing workshop renewed an interest in wild life art. A few years ago I became interested in the paintings which Charles Tunicliffe did at ‘Shorelands,’ his home on Anglesey. He devoted his artistic life to recording birds and country life and the wood engravings done for book illustrations and his large watercolours which earned him election to the Royal Academy are true works of art and deservedly popular.

Tunnicliffes’ sketch books are fascinating documents, examples used to be displayed in the museum at Llangefni on Anglesey which has a large collection of his work. Drawings of birds hold more artistic interest than than paintings – the paintings of the likes of Basil Ede for example do not quite capture the excitement that catching the sight of a bird in the wild. I think it is partly due to the carefully contrived backgrounds which most paintings in the genre have. I suspect this kind of art is mostly admired for the technical skill displayed by the artist in rendering detail.

In pursuit of inspiration I turned to Victor Ambrus, another artist I admire and well known now for his illustrations of the archeological sites investigated on Channel 4’s ‘Time Team’ programme. He once published a book of animal drawings, now long out of print, that I use for study. The drawings reproduced in the book are all done with graphite pencils. I make studies of them using Woolf Carbon Pencils which are similar. The following sketchbook studies are based on some of Victor Ambrus, drawings but there is one which is entirely mine. Can you spot which it is?

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