Capturing the Essence

Techniques for Bird Artists

CSIRO Publishing
William T. Cooper
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Once described by Sir David Attenborough as ‘the best ornithological illustrator alive’, William T. Cooper was a generous mentor to many wildlife artists. His willingness to share his knowledge and skills is epitomised in Capturing the Essence: Techniques for Bird Artists.

First published in 2011, Capturing the Essence is a step-by-step guide that offers practical advice to observing birds, retaining the essential information and then painting them from field notes and sketches, photographs and other observations.

The author takes the reader through the processes involved in oil painting, watercolour and acrylic techniques, and a piece of art is built up in stages to demonstrate the skills required in each of these media. While the book concentrates on birds, much of the general basics will be relevant to painting a wide variety of natural history and wildlife subjects.

This re-release edition will ensure a whole new generation of artists can learn and benefit from William T. Cooper’s timeless knowledge and expertise.

Contributor Bio

William T. Cooper AO (1934–2015) originally painted landscapes and seascapes but turned to painting birds because of a lifelong love of natural history. He collaborated on many bird monographs with Joseph M. Forshaw. In 1990, William was awarded the Philadelphia Academy of Science (USA) Gold Medal, and in 1994 he was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia for his contribution to art and to ornithology. A collection of his original paintings is owned by the National Library of Australia and many others are in private collections around the world.