Bird feathers- wow! Form, function, and beauty in one perfect package. And so much variety and complexity of patterns that my head is spinning. I’ve been preparing for my upcoming class on The Art of the Bird by gathering resources and reference material and working out painting exercises. Painting these feathers gave me a whole new appreciation for the simplicity of the form and the challenge of rendering them well.

Red-tailed Hawk tail feathers
Miscellaneous contour and flight feathers

Tips and Techniques– If you’d like to make your head spin with a dizzying array of bird feathers, check out The Feather Atlas. The online image database is dedicated to the identification and study of the flight feathers of North American birds. The feathers illustrated are from the curated collection of the National Fish and Wildlife Forensics Laboratory. You can look up birds by species or browse the collection. Check out the owls or the nighthawks for starters- either one will leave you marveling.

Mark your calendar…I have two free Zoom chats coming up in November:
Look, See, Sketch, 11/4, 5-5:45pm (EST)
Art Chat, 11/5, 1pm (EST) / 10am (PST)

19 Comments on “Feathers

  1. Another example of your totally exceptional work, Jean! I was at Arts & Birding camp as a photographer several years ago and I marveled at your teaching the art journaling classes. I love to take close up photos of feathers with my zoom lens. Feathers are so beautiful. Have you read “The Feather Thief” – a true story- The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century by Kirk Wallace Johnson

    • Hi Nancy- It’s so nice to hear from you. I bet feathers look even more beautiful and fascinating with a closeup lens. Yes, I did read The Feather Thief– what a story. Really enjoyed the book– although the whole story was astonishing and disturbing. Thanks for reaching out through the ether to connect!

  2. Jean, I like your feathers as well as your work. And a big thank you for the website that helps identify feathers. Be well.

  3. These are simply exquisite Jean. Thanks for your info on the feather atlas. What a valuable site. I’m looking forward to your upcoming class on birds at Windsor art. And thanks to Nancy on her book recommendation.

  4. My head is spinning too, Jean. Wonderful illustrations. Anytime we engage with something, whether it’s by drawing, painting, photographing, writing (to name a few), we learn. Great point.

  5. Beautiful work, Jean, and the bit of whimsy I feel when I look at the second one is delightful. Feathers should look light and airy, and boy, these do! Your enthusiasm is inspiring. 🙂

  6. Pingback: Collecting bird feathers in the United States – legality and alternatives – Found Feathers

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