Knowledge, beauty and art to share – Part II

John James Audubon´s Birds of America is a really valuable contribution in the form of life-size watercolors and details about the behavior of birds. These compilations of 435 species of birds, over half of the species of United States, included 25 new species and 12 new subspecies. This work was printed between 1827 and 1838. After this project, he compiled a collection of 150 hand-colored lithographs “The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America”.


Audubon´s watercolor plate of the Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis)

One of the reasons I want to dedicate this series of blog posts to his work, is because, in addition to his incredible talent as an artist, he was a brilliant writer. Reading his very well documented journeys can transport you to the adventure as he experienced it, with exquisite detail of the landscape and the behavior of the birds (available at: , courtesy of the John James Audubon Center at Mill Grove, Audubon, PA, and the Montgomery County, PA, Audubon Collection). In each one of the up coming photo series, I will be posting some of his plates of our avifauna species, and quote some of his bird biographies.


Knowledge, beauty and art to share – Part I

John James Audubon was not the first person to collect, illustrate and record detailed information about the birds of North America, but the quality and significance of his work places his name and work as a remarkable reference of the ornithology world.

John Audobon Portrait

Image 1. Paint of John James Audubon, by John Syme (Source:

Jean-Jacques Audubon was born in 1785, in the French colony of Saint-Domingue (now known as Haiti). Later in 1803 when he was immigrating to United States, he changed his name to a more Anglicized form: John James Audubon.

During his first years in the new country he spent a lot of his time roaming this very different territory. He was captivated by the wildlife in this new area, a passion that took him from one end of the country to the other. Through the years he saw an extensive area of the country. He changed the way birds were illustrated, “putting the spectator within the natural environment”: accomplishing an extreme similarity with the characteristics of the bird, and the environment where the scene took place. And he also developed the first recorded experiment of bird banding in America.




Gyotaku Fish Printing – Process

Sunday morning, I searched the house for plain t-shirts for each one of us. Gayle, Jim and the kids went fishing again. This time they decided they wanted a few different species to print. After they had caught the required subject matter, they went to work. They cleaned the fish, set up the area for painting the face of the fish and then started printing and printing and printing.
All in all, over the two days they worked on this, they printed 6 art prints and 15 articles of clothing. Jim, Gayle, Yohany, Natalia, Boty, Tres and Ramon worked on all of these things. It was a lot of fun.





Gyotaku Fish Printing

Gyotaku is the art of Japanese fish printing. It is an amazing way to preserve the beauty of a fish. And because each fish can be printed many times you don’t have to catch a lot of fish to learn about this art form.


We first learned about it in October 2010 from Doug Olander. Doug was here to write an article on Tranquilo Bay for Sport Fishing. He is the Editor in Chief for Sport Fishing and an author of a book of fish prints. His book Gyotaku Fish Impressions was released in 1994.

He explained the basics of the process to Jim while he was here. Jim looked into a bit further and purchased a few supplies. Over the course of the next year, Jim printed a couple of fish. You have to be prepared to print the fish when you return from a day of fishing and you need to allocate the time to do so. Jim is usually running tight on time after he returns from fishing thus the limited prints for 2011.

Thus far 2012 has surpassed our limited editions for 2011. Jim’s sister, Gayle, visited us last week. She is quite an artist so the two of them decided to try again on the prints.