Seabirds from an Artist’s Perspective – Part 1

“And now for something completely different…” as Monty Python would say. What is it like to look at seabirds from an artist’s perspective?

First of all I, the writer, would like to introduce myself. My name is Rose, and I’m one of the student interns here at COASST. I answer emails about seabirds, enter data about seabirds, and I draw seabirds. As an artist, I specialize in pets and wildlife, and do custom portraits and odd job commissions when I’m not too busy with school here at the University of Washington.

Of all the possible subjects, why would I draw birds?

A delicate hummingbird drawn by Rose

Birds have always been aesthetically fascinating to me. This fascination is a little bit hard to articulate, but I will try my best. There is a certain lightness to them that touches me, sort of like a gust of wind touches a leaf and lifts it for a moment. Very often gulls and turns gliding on a playful breeze will catch my imagination, and I will imagine myself as one of them dancing upon the wind. There is something so beautiful and sleek about the smooth curves of a streamlined bird that give me such deep satisfaction to emulate on paper.

Seabirds are a supreme design. For a designer, it is extremely difficult to create an object that is both fully aesthetically pleasing and functional. If you think about all the objects you use in your daily life – your phone, or your vacuum cleaner – all these things are made up of compromises between beauty and functionality, yet in seabirds both are one and the same.

A Marbled Murrelet sketch showing the balance of beauty and functionality

In reality, at least for me, seabirds from and “artist’s perspective” and seabirds from a “scientist’s perspective” aren’t terribly different. Aesthetically beautiful wing curves can be described mathematically in terms of lift and airflow, which can then be analyzed statistically to determine fitness during winter months. Birds are fascinating to me. This is the reason I draw them, and it is also the reason I peer at them through binoculars, or trek out to the beach in the rain to log their carcasses. When you get down to it, I’m simply exploring what I love, with the skills that have been given to me.

 

The cover to a planner designed by Rose also features a seabird

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