This artwork was created for a client who had inherited a large number of framed, reproduced prints of what are commonly known as Gould’s Birds.
John Gould (1804 – 1881) was an English ornithologist and bird artist. He published a number of monographs on birds, illustrated by plates that he produced with the assistance of his wife, Elizabeth Gould and several other artists, including Edward Lear, H. C. Richter, Joseph Wolf and William M. Hart. He has been considered the father of bird study in Australia and the Gould League in Australia is named after him. Gould’s work is referenced in Charles Darwin’s book, On the Origin of Species. (From Wikipedia)
The client no longer wanting to display the prints, but at the same time wanting to keep a memory of them, I suggested that I incorporate some of the birds into a new artwork. What developed was a Victoriana-style celebration of both Gould’s Birds and some of the roses growing in my garden (some inherited with our house and some planted by myself).
I used a découpage technique popular in Victorian times in which imagery on paper or card is cut out, pasted to a surface and then thin coats of varnish are applied. Using a craft knife I carefully cut out the birds from the original prints. I made individual paintings of selected roses onto stretched paper, which I also painstakingly cut out, making sure the chosen birds would ‘sit’ naturalistically on the rose stems.
I painted a background that would harmonise with the birds and roses to create a ‘naturalistic’ feel to the artwork.
It was then required to precisely paint the very edges of each bird, rose, leaf and stem so that the white core of the cut paper would not stand-out again the darker background.
All the birds and roses ready to assemble!
Finally the cut pieces were composed against the background, glued down with care and then varnished with a high gloss medium.
The final artwork is displayed glazed in a gold frame.