Monday, November 22, 2010


It was familiarity with Charles Tunnicliffe's watercolour paintings which aroused my interest in drawing and painting birds. I got to know his work from his published illustrations but the first time I saw the originals was in an exhibition in the Oriel Gallery at Llangefni on Anglesey. His draughtsmanship and control of the watercolour medium was breathtaking. Robert Gillmor's collection of CT's drawings 'A Sketchbook of Birds' gives an insight into his working methods but I really wanted to read a book 'Bird Portraiture' which he published in 1945. I was delighted to buy a second hand copy quite cheaply from an Amazon bookseller and I wasn't disappointed.

CT recognised that birds even if you take them out of their natural environment are still have an intrinsic beauty just like flowers but he thought it important for the artist to interpret his bird subjects in terms of basic graphic elements. 

'It is with the creation of a very different kind of beauty that this book will try to deal, - that of line and form and colour on paper or canvas; a work of art in fact which, we hope will have its own particular claim to be beautiful, not because it has slavishly imitated the form and colour of the bird, but because it has used the bird and controlled it to create a new beauty.'

When you study CT's they owe little to 'realism' but a great deal to careful composition and colour harmony.

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