Thursday, November 13, 2008

Starling. Starling. STARLING.

I collect just about every starling print I run across and because I do this, I now have a wall in my living room that is covered with starling prints. It's very Alfred Hitchcock but that's fine by me because I'm probably the only one who thinks the final scene in "The Birds" would be the ideal front yard. 

Some of the prints are charming and sweet like this  hand-colored Albin etching (second quarter 18th century).

And some of them are stunningly beautiful like this hand-colored lithograph by John Gould (third quarter 19th century). 

This particular print shows the feathers from baby to adult and the transition in between. Juvenile starlings are the oddest looking birds because all their stars appear on their bodies before the stars start appearing on their heads. For a length of time that seems like forever, their baby heads sit on top of adult starling bodies. When Starlinka was going through this stage, it was very funny. Such a goofy look. But cute!

And then there are some prints that are just plain.......mystifyingly weird. I love all of them regardless of how well they're executed but this one, it really is an odd one.

If you know anything about how perspective works, the horizon line is usually at eye level (at least for one and two point perspective). Working with that concept, this artist's viewpoint was at the bird's midwing. Fine. But if that's true, that "tree" behind the bird is awfully small. If you were a six foot tall man standing in front of this bird, maybe that tree is 8 or 9 feet tall but that bird would be 12 or more feet tall. Yikes. That bird is huge. HUGE. That shadow is huge! I adore birds but not when they're this big (aiyee!).


Country Girl said...

What an interesting collection you have, Maria! And I thought there was something 'off' about that last photo. Thanks for explaining the perspective.

Maria said...

I've seen a lot of this artist's work but the other ones aren't as weird looking as this one. I understand trying to document the animal by getting down to its level-you definitely then focus on the animal that's being illustrated. But when you throw in some things like that "tree," it throws off the whole scale of things. That "tree" shows up in a lot of starling prints. I don't know what the deal was but a lot of my starling prints have variations of that same stump in them. I'm sure I'll eventually post photos of my other starling prints and you'll see that same tree or stump of a tree in most of them. I wonder if it was an inside joke. Anyway, I think this artist was compelled to throw in that stump of a tree and when he did that, it just threw everything that was slightly off even more so.

I've seen some prints of this artist's tortoises....giant, giant tortoises (shudder). Giant birds are scary enough.