I love the work of John James Audubon. (1785- 1851) and I am so intrigued by the idea of Audubon’s sketch book. I love all of his botanical art, especially his bird sketches and artwork. I was inspired to create some sepia bird art in my own style.
As an artist, my first love is botanical and natural art. He is one of my artistic hero’s. Here is a man who floated down the Mississippi river, living off the land which was untouched and wild territory and drawing the birds as he saw them. I was so inspired by the image of a lone man, drawing as he went, that I imagined he must have had a sketch book. I wondered what would that sketch book look like? How fast would he have to draw? Would he do the lines and then fill the colors in later by camp fire? What would that pages of that sketch book look like?
To challenge myself, I bought an actual artist’s quill pen and ink. I decided that these would have to be sketches, no tracing, no pre-drawing. Where splatters of ink landed, they landed and where I had mistakes, they would remain.
After I sketched the birds, I filled in a bit of info about the bird’s I found on-line. After all, if you were making a field journal, your would make notes next to your subject, right? The paper has to look old, so I aged it with a tea stain stamp. I might go with parchment next time I do a set of sketches.
I imagine finding an entire journal of birds in an attic, sketched and drawn with all of the notes scribbled along the edges…then back 100 plus years, Audubon, dipping his pen in the ink well by the glow of firelight, swatting mosquitoes while cricket’s chirped out in the middle of the wilderness. Imagine how precious Audubon’s sketch book was, I bet he guarded it with his life. A rain could ruin the entire body of work.
How peaceful… and wild.
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