Vintage book pages merge with realistic renditions of birds in the art of Craig Williams. The Australia-based painter sources these unconventional canvases to create intentional juxtapositions between his art and printed text. This thoughtful combination results in pairings that appear to have been made for each other.
Williams brings his background in zoology and experience working in museums and wildlife parks into his creative practice. Each of the bird portraits is done with faithful accuracy to the species. In many instances, the choice of bird relates to the book page that it is painted on. “The use of vintage book pages as the substrate brings an underlying story to the piece through the history of the books themselves which is often evident in the imperfect nature of the paper with blemishes, marks, creases, and wear,” he tells My Modern Met.
Williams frequently uses pages from field guides to pay homage to the history of the reference texts used by birders and to directly relate the illustration to the information on the page. “While the birds in some works can have an easily identifiable, even a direct link to the page content (as an example depicting a bird using the identification page from a field guide) others can have more discrete and even an intangible relationship to the page contents,” Williams explains.
“Often the branch on which the bird is perched is left in the underpainting stage with no further details [and allows] the text on the page to remain visible and [help] to both tie the bird to the page text while also lifting the bird prominently off the page.”