Catherine Hamilton is an artist currently traveling around the United States in search of birds. She’s our featured blogger with her site, Birdspot. She took a break from her travels to talk to us about her journey.
Why did you start your website?
I first started the blog in 2003, the same year I started birding seriously as an adult, to keep a written and illustrated list of the birds I was seeing while out in the field.
How did you develop an interest in birds as an art subject?
I began birding after a round of anaphylaxis and hospitalization. I was diagnosed with severe allergies to the chemicals used in painting, and I had to leave my teaching position at the Rhode Island School of Design and also quit painting entirely. For five years I worked only in ink, and through putting drawings on my blog. I was not a bird artist prior to this! I began drawing birds because I felt an urge to quietly document the intersection between their lives and mine.
I read that you’re currently traveling around the country. What for?
I decided that if I was going to seriously draw birds, I needed to learn as much about them and their environments as I could. I felt I needed as much time in the field as possible, in as many regions of the country as possible. I also very much wanted to visit museums and universities to study from their specimen collections. Finally, I wanted to learn about the history of bird art and illustration—something not really covered in a contemporary art school! A year-long solo trip suddenly began to make sense, and on Nov 1, 2010, I hit the road.
What’s your favorite bird or bird family to observe?
Over the course of nine months of traveling, and experiences of many different kinds of birding (from birding competitions to research expeditions to grueling days at sea on pelagic trips), I have become enamored with sparrows. They are small, difficult to see and identify, often overlooked and decidedly unglamorous. I find them utterly beautiful—their patterning and colors perfectly suited not just to their environment but also to their movement within it. Fascinating!
Is there a way people can buy your bird art?
At the moment, I have T-shirts and mugs available of some of my illustrations at Printfection. I have been exhibiting work through a couple of small museums this year; currently I have pieces up at the Newport Art Museum. Anyone who wishes to be on my exhibit mailing list is free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.