To have been torn from the study would have been as death; my time was entirely occupied with art.
-John James Audubon
Have you ever gone to a bookstore or visitor center and seen the animal & plant field guides? Ever since my trip to Yellowstone last year, I have become a fan of the Audubon series. I especially adored the tiny illustrations in the books and trying so hard to find each bird just to be able to say that I did.
Audubon Series Field Guide to Birds
Until further investigation, I had no idea that this series was named after a real person.
The miniature (and sometimes life sized) portraits of the North American birds he illustrated, were very different than his predecessors. He would illustrate these birds with awkwardly tilted heads, wings spread, maybe hanging upside down from limbs. See, he illustrated from life. He would watch these little creatures for hours in their natural habitats and somehow capture their unique personalities. Most illustrators during that time would illustrate using mounted or stuffed birds. They did not capture the life as Audubon did.
The NC Museum of Art has the complete Audubon Birds of America series. The books are said to be 40 inches in height. This is the first time the Museum is showing the exhibit. They have owned the series for more than a century and a half! I am definitely going to go see the actual pages that Audubon printed himself. He was said to have created it with pride and with hopes that people would accept his artistic style and his hard work illustrating and discovering over 400 different species of birds.