Saturday, January 16, 2010

The work of Charlie Harper

Ben suggested having a look at the work of Charlie Harper. It's really interesting. He was an American illustrator who produced lots of illustrations of nature - mainly birds. I found this interesting quote on Wikipedia:

When I look at a wildlife or nature subject, I don’t see the feathers in the wings, I just count the wings. I see exciting shapes, color combinations, patterns, textures, fascinating behavior and endless possibilities for making interesting pictures. I regard the picture as an ecosystem in which all the elements are interrelated, interdependent, perfectly balanced, without trimming or unutilized parts; and herein lies the lure of painting; in a world of chaos, the picture is one small rectangle in which the artist can create an ordered universe. [1]

(Green Jay - Charlie Harper)

I really think you can see what Charlie Harper is referring to in the quote when you look at this piece of work. The bird is really broken down into a series of simple shapes comprising of different bright colours, but the shapes really work to communicate the birds body language and how it relates to the other creatures (namely a stick insect) within it's environment. The limited use of colour - greens, white, black and a bit of blue works really well in describing the plummage of the bird without being over complex....

I was thinking that i might have a go at experimenting with using this style of illustration. I could use some block like shapes to create the shape of a bird and then draw scales on top - this would illustrate the two main characteristics of the quetzalcoatl...

Illustration for the Giant book of Biology

This is probably one of Charlie Harper's most well known illustrations. once again Harper uses lots of block shapes of colours to communicate the body of an animal, before adding detail in the form of pattern, lines or smaller blocks of coloured shapes. I really like the chameleon and the owl (half way up on the left edge). Harper's work is simplified, yet interesting.....

He contrasted his nature-oriented artwork with the realism of John James Audubon, drawing influence from Cubism, Minimalism, Einsteinian physics and countless other developments in Modern art and science. His style distilled and simplified complex organisms and natural subjects, yet they are often arranged in a complex fashion.

Okay, just one more illustration...

I thought i'd add this one because i like the patterns that Harper has used to suggest the roots of plants - the larvae also make quite an interseting pattern. Harper simplifies an underground world to create an illustration that is both informative yet visually interesting...- the mouse is really cool too!

No comments:

Post a Comment