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DRAWING BIRDS (RSPB) Paperback – Jan 1 2004

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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: CHRISTOPHER HELM PUBLISHERS LTD (Jan. 1 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0713668164
  • ISBN-13: 978-0713668162
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 1 x 25.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 540 g
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #772,318 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0xa604721c) out of 5 stars 12 reviews
41 of 43 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa692ce04) out of 5 stars An insperation Feb. 1 2005
By A. Crombet-beolens - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
As a very new bird painter/Artist, - I use this in the loosest possible terms after just three months of trying - when I saw the title of this book I was very excited, but then I took a quick flick through and realised just how poor my own work was!

After reading the excellent forward by Bill Oddie, I delved into the main text, and soon realised this was going to be much more than just a guide on how to draw birds. It was in fact an in-depth study into bird structure and movement, feather construction, their relationship to their surroundings and much, much more; knowledge one needs to improve one`s chances of capturing a bird`s essence on paper.

At no point does John Busby lecture you on how to paint, even though he was an academic; lecturing at Edinburgh Art College. He knows everyone has different styles, and says we should all paint in our own way; a way with which we feel comfortable. This book is, instead, filled with lots of tips on a range of topics such as composition, what features to pick out, and what to ignore and so forth. There is a great deal more besides, but you`ll have to read the book yourself to find out!

What is more, the book is packed with paintings, drawings, field sketches and even an odd photo or two as illustrations, from 38 of the world`s premier wildlife artists, and is worth the money for these pictures alone (where else could you find a comprehensive range of images, from the world`s leading artists for under 20 quid).

For budding artists this title is invaluable, for art fans it is delightful and for mere birdwatchers this book holds some fascinating insights into the creatures we love to watch.

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa692ce58) out of 5 stars Inspiring is the word Oct. 3 2006
By Ken Januski - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I know that the title I've chosen is quite often a cliche but I do think it's an apt title. Do you want to do good drawings of birds that you've seen, capture some of their liveliness, put onto paper something of the excitement of birds you've seen in nature? Do you want to do it in a way consistent with the best drawings of the past? If you do then I think you'll find this book inspiring.

Early on John Busby says: "So be patient; it may take years of patience to discover enough about the ways of birds and the ways of drawing to bring both together with conviction." The vast majority of the drawings in this book do so. Not only that but, at least for me, they exude the pleasure of both drawing and of portraying live nature. Again as the author says in first few pages: "... opened a window into a new passionate reality after the stuffy plates of my earlier books and confirmed my choice to go live."

Now "going live" may seem an anachronism to many artists and budding artists. I know it was when I was an art student many years ago. I have no idea as to what might be happening in art schools now but I wouldn't be surprised if "going live" was not considered the proper path for a serious artist. I hope I'm wrong.

To appreciate this book though, and to not be quite disappointed in it, you must have some appreciation of the difference between any subject drawn from life and one drawn from photos or some other method. It is a basic principle of the book, stated once or twice early on, but not really dwelled upon. But it is at the heart of why this book is so enjoyable and inspirational.

The other very important element is an appreciation for good art. For better or worse there is much wildlife art that may be realistic in some way but seems to have no relationship to great draughtsmen of the past like Rembrandt, Durer, et al. This book, though again it doesn't mention them often, seems to understand that tradition and to choose drawings that in some way exemplify it.

So for someone who appreciates both good art and drawing birds from life this book and the drawings in it are exceptional. It might very well make you want to drop whatever you're doing and get out and do some drawings. If you're a birder it will present you with the dilemma of whether you should bring your binoculars or your sketchpad. Actually the author suggests both as well perhaps as a scope.

The book is very short, just 135 pages, many of them drawings. But there is enough text to offer some helpful practical advice about drawing birds, the type of advice that can only come from someone who has drawing these flitting creatures for years. It is not an instructional book, and some readers may be unhappy with that. But to quote the author one last time: "It is tempting to think that drawing can be taught methodically to a set of rules. Over the years of teaching at an art college I know that despite my advice and stage-managed exercises, the students have largely taught themselves..." From my own experience teaching I'd say that you can teach students some things about drawings but far more important is to inspire them with the thrill of art. Art is really not the most popular pursuit in contemporary culture. It hasn't been for a very long time. So to help to convince someone who leans toward art that it really is a valuable, viable pursuit may be the most important thing that a teacher can do. You then trust the student to go on from there.

I think that this book is written from that perspective. Some artists and potential artists, as well as birders who'd like to draw what they see, will find that it doesn't give them the step by step instructions that they may want. But for many others it will serve as an inspiration to go out and draw what they see, and to not be intimidated by the seeming impossibility of drawing birds. Birders know that it is hard enough to even see birds long enough to identify them. To draw them as well should be out of the question. This book and the drawings in it should show that that is definitely not the case.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa692f2ac) out of 5 stars Life-drawing of birds Oct. 22 2010
By Beth Billstrom - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is one of my favorite books on drawing birds because it provides insight into how to capture the essence and life-giving quality of birds and their environments. There are lots of basic books on how to draw exacting bird shapes (I have some of those, too!), but this book encourages artists to express the freedom, intrigue and mystery of birds and their habitats. The world needs all kinds of artists and modes of expression. If you are looking to create drawings of exacting field guide specifications, then this book may not be for you. But if you are looking for artistic guidance in how to to capture the beauty of birds in motion and get those observations down on paper in artistic form, than this book will help you.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa692f678) out of 5 stars A Must-Have Book for Artists Seriously Interested in Drawing Birds Oct. 11 2010
By JohnT - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I purchased this book after it was recommended by an art instructor in a wildlife and bird painting class. The book is such a spectacular reference book, as well as highly enjoyable to flip through, that I was shocked when I finally got around to looking at the reviews of it here on Amazon and saw that there were two one star reviews. The only possible explanation for this to me is a real mismatch between expectations and what the book promises - and delivers by the boatload. First a little background on me - I'm certified as a master birder through Seattle Audubon and lead field trips for several Audubon societies. I retired a couple years ago and embarked on doing art after having been discouraged from doing so by a ninth grade teacher (decades ago) so even at a 'mature' age I was a complete beginner in art. This book is absolutely perfect for birders who want to combine their birding with art, or for artists wanting to improve their knowledge of and ability to draw birds. Busby's only possible 'fault' in this book - which is its biggest strength to me and others I know - is that it focuses on sketching birds from life as a starting point to bird art. Busby's ability to capture the essence of a bird largely on locastion is truly amazing, and a skill that is in short supply at his level. I guess if your goal is to slavishly and stiffly copy a standard field guide side profile static view of a bird, then you might not see the value in this book. However, if you can learn to sketch in the field even half as good as John Busby, your ability to draw (and paint) birds will absolutely soar. What I have found is that even though I am a fairly experienced and capable birder, I really never 'saw' species the way you do when you work from life in the way Busby recommends. It has truly opened up a whole new world with both my birding and my attempt to become a passable wildlife and bird artist.

If I had to pick a nit with the book, the best I could do would be to say that its largest focus is seabirds and waterfowl as compared to some other families of birds. This is probably due to a couple factors - Busby lived in England and had a lot of access to these species, and they are somewhat more cooperative models than other birds. However, with over 8,000 species of birds in the world (and around 800 in just the US) an artist can barely scratch the surface even with a long and distinguished career.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa692f624) out of 5 stars Drawing Birds by John Busby July 20 2012
By Karen Rodden - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is not simply a how to draw a bird book, but a book which also discusses the philosophy of catching the essence of a bird on paper. It contains insights about how to watch birds and what to notice to capture their form and balance. I have been enjoying it very much.