Book review: Capturing the essence- techniques for bird artists

If you, like me, are interested in painting wildlife, then Capturing the Essence- techniques for bird artists (<—you can see a preview on this link) by Australian artist William T. Cooper, is a beautiful book to read.

The book not only covers all the essentials on how to get started on painting and drawing birds, but also covers a few step-by-step paintings in a variety of mediums (watercolours, acrylics, and oils). While I much prefer books that go into depth on techniques rather than getting you to follow the steps in a paint by numbers approach, this book is entirely the opposite of this and definitely has some of the most  informative projects I have seen in an art book. I found the step-by step stages to be very useful particularly the full page colour photographs of the paintings as they progressed from stage to stage. It is inspirational to see how such a talented artist works in depth. In addition, the projects section is less than 1/2 of the overall volume of the text, the rest is packed full of information on how to get into painting birds.


The author emphasises the importance of knowing your subject very well before attempting painting them, and provides many suggestions about how to get to know birds better.



The other thing I love about this book is the detailed illustrations, especially in the first section (Part A- the basics), which covers things like composition of paintings, bird anatomy, as well as tips on sketching from life and painting backgrounds. The illustrations to describe bird anatomy are very detailed and beautiful, with illustrations of skeletons, wings, feathers, beaks and feet, with useful technical information to back up observations. The mix of sketches and finished work is just wonderfully designed and would have to be the most beautiful book I have seen on the subject.


What more can I say? I love this book and would definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves wildlife art, even if all you do is look at the beautiful paintings and don’t even pick up a paint brush (though you will definitely be inspired to after reading this!).

See more about William T. Cooper on his website. He also has a very interesting section on his site with videos of himself working!! Check them out.

William T Cooper – Andrew Isles from sarahscragg on Vimeo.

All images used with permission. 


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