Nature

Poetry. Click on images

In the Heart of the Amazon Forest. Henry Walter Bates

In the Heart of the Amazon Forest- Henry Walter Bates

These five illustrations were inspired by the travel diaries of the English naturalist and explorer Henry Walter Bates. Bates travelled to the Tefe region of the Amazon in 1842 with Alfred Russell Wallace. Wallace returned after four years  but Bates was to remain for 11 years exploring the region, studying the fauna and flora and amassing a collection of 11000 specimens over 8,000 of which were new to science and included.shells, plants, birds and over 100 new species of butterflies and beetles, which returned with him to England in 1852. A large part of his collection is now housed at the Natural History museum in Kensington, London.

On his return Henry Bates wrote up his journals and diaries and published them as “The Naturalist on the River Amazon” and which is published now as ‘In the Heart of the Amazon Forest.’ In his book he recalls his encounters with alligators and turtles, monkeys and birds, beetles & bats, ants and butterfliies. He describes and records in detail their appearances, characteristics and habits and ,being also an accomplished artist, Bates filled  his journals with delightful watercolour illustrations of the creatures that he studied

Alongside the rich wildlife of the forest he recalls his relationship with the indigenous Amazonian native peoples without whose help Bates could not have gone about his work. He learnt their languages and observed their customs. He hires them to gather specimens for his collections and accompanies them on fishing trips along the river and its tributaries. He describes in graphic detail the annual turtle egg collecting event- a great occasion amongst the local tribes. He hunts birds and monkeys using their poisonous blow pipes and records encounters with  man eating alligators. On one memorable occasion he recounts a contact with the Jauaripixuana, the Native name for the black Jaguar which caused much excitement among the hunting party he was with.

Turtles, jaguars, toucans, leaf cutter ants, storks, vampire and fruit-eating bats; all creatures which he describes in precise detail in his book and which I have chosen to populate these five illustrations. I hope to do more. The scientific writings of Henry Walter Bates and in particular his discovery of mimicry in insects (where harmless species imitate the appearance of more aggressive or poisonous species in order to improve their survival chances- now known as Batesian Mimicry) went on to help inform the then new Theory of Evolution and he is considered as belonging amongst the most important and influential of 19th century’s biologists.

Illustrations are created using drawing, Flexigon, photocopier, photo apps (Snapseed) and Photoshop

British birds of prey. Series 2. Buzzards

All images are hand drawn and rendered in Photoshop

Related topics;

1. Introduction

2. What’s your super powers?

3. We are family

4. What’s in a name?

5. Brush up your Shakespeare

6. Know your place

7. Mind your language

8. It’s tough at the top

9. The female of the species.

10. All for One & One for all.

11. The beautiful game

12. Scourge of the Roman empire

13. A legendary tale

14. Explosive tear drop

15. Poetry in motion

16. Friend or Foe

17. Strictly come dancing

18. Keeping a tight grip

Click on images for more informtion on each raptor

 

Red Crowned Cranes

Red-crowned cranes. Grus japonensis

The Red-crowned crane is one of the rarest, largest and long lived of the worlds cranes. It is a very handsome bird with its black and white plumage and red skull cap. Their plumage was highly regarded and used as fashion accessories. In Japan they were hunted to the point of extinction  surplying the demand for the feathers for the fashion industry. They are now protected across its range including China, Japan and Korea

In far eastern cultures the Red-crowned crane is a symbol of longevity, purity, and peace and a popular subject in art. The Japanese airlines JAL uses the red-crowned crane as its logo on the tail of its planes.  Captive cranes have been known to live for up to 70 years.

The crane  is famous for the courtship dance preformed during the mating season where pairs of cranes  engage in elaborate, synchronised courtship duets. It was this idea of their courtship dance and its compositional possibilities that attracted me to attempt a painting of these birds. I was also struck by the resemblance between the visual rhythm created  as they dance with that of  musical notes on a stave.

Ink, masking fluid and tipex pen on mountboard. (2014)

British birds of prey. Series 4. The Osprey and Eagles

All images are hand drawn and coloured in Photoshop

Related topics;

1. Introduction

2. What’s your super powers?

3. We are family

4. What’s in a name?

5. Brush up your Shakespeare

6. Know your place

7. Mind your language

8. It’s tough at the top

9. The female of the species.

10. All for One & One for all.

11. The beautiful game

12. Scourge of the Roman empire

13. A legendary tale

14. Explosive tear drop

15. Poetry in motion

16. Friend or Foe

17. Strictly come Dancing

18. Keeping a tight grip

Click on images for more informtion on each raptor

British birds of prey. Series 1. Falcons & Hawks

All images are hand drawn and coloured in Photoshop

Introduction

The idea for a series of portrait illustrations of the birds of prey of the British Isles developed gradually. I had Initially completed a commission for an eagle which involved exploring new techniques of rendering in Photoshop which I wanted to developed further. I was a keen ornithologist when a boy an interest that was to wane in my teenage years and lay dormant throughout my adult life. I did, however retain a lot of knowledge of birds from my youth  and the original eagle illustration project had  awakened a latent interest.

When  a young keen bird watcher I do not recall  birds of prey being a particular passion of mine  probably  because, since as I was growing up in the 1970”s, they were scarce and  very few and far between, but I thought – for creative continuity, I would illustrate one more of these raptors and chose the Peregrine.

One thing followed another. I researched the birds and the more I did so the more I became engrossed by their history, physiology, mythology and especially the story of their long relationship with us. And so a project formed – to illustrate all 17 resident, and regularly visiting, raptors to these Isles and to document a small part of their continuing, fascinating and unfolding story.

Click on images for more informtion on each raptor

Related topics;

1. Introduction

2. What’s your super powers?

3. We are family

4. What’s in a name?

5. Brush up your Shakespeare

6. Know your place

7. Mind your language

8. It’s tough at the top

9. The female of the species.

10. All for One & One for all.

11. The beautiful game

12. Scourge of the Roman empire

13. A legendary tale

14. Explosive tear drop

15. Poetry in motion

16. Friend or Foe

17. Strictly come dancing

18. Keeping a tight grip.