Illustrations by some of the best known artists who devoted their talents to recording our natural environment.
This exhibition showcases the development of scientific art from the Melbourne museum’s seldom seen collection of artworks and rare books, and images produced with microscopes, macro-lenses and computers.
Even if you don’t paint in a detailed manner, looking at the works by these very patient and dedicated artists give understanding of how these very lifelike images were created. I took the time to look at these creations from a distance end then very close up to try to nut out how every image was created. There is so much detail and fine pencil, pen and brush work in some, that it must have taken months to complete some of them.
I found myself attracted to the expressions in the eyes of the birds. From here comes the “spirit” of the animal and it is usually where I start from when doing an animal portrait. I then went to the details in the feathers, including the water colour washes that gave the colours to the wings and the detailed fine lines to show one feather from another as well as all the details in each individual feather. It’s a style that I don’t use now, but can appreciate, as well as the fact that you never know when you may use it again in the future.
If you have only seen these images in book before, it is well worth your while to see the originals. There are examples of animals from other countries as well as our own including the beautiful hand coloured aquatint, engraving on paper called Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus), from The Birds of America 1829 by John James Audubon. It’s so good that since studying printmaking last year I now know what an aquatint is so could understand how the image was made to a certain degree.
A very interesting exhibition and well worth the visit.