Thursday, August 21, 2014

"Of A Feather - An Avian Alphabet" by Colin See-Paynton

In my last post I wrote about the wonderful color linocuts of Christopher Wormell, and his creative use of vocabulary in a counting book. Today I present Colin See-Paynton's stunningly detailed wood engravings for a bird-themed alphabet book. This book also happens to employ the use of creative vocabulary.

Instead of seeking out nouns for types of birds that match with all of the letters of the alphabet, which would no doubt lead to some difficulty with certain letters (I'm talking about you, X) and put in place certain restrictions for the artists, See-Paynton chose to match each letter with an entire phrase about each group of birds. The result is a sort of unexpected elegance of language that matches perfectly with the ceremonial composition and ornately detailed imagery.
The sampling here includes Parliment of Owls, Irascibility of Robins, Tiding of Magpies, and Quietude of Swans. The owls and swans sit at rest, couched in the image's frame, while the magpies disperse outward, and the robins swarm toward a fellow in the center, In all of them the figures are tightly arranged and completely contained within the frame. This is what gives the composition a sort of ceremonial look. All four of these also showcase a rather balanced mix of black and white and breathtaking array of textures for the viewer to explore.

You can find the entire collection for viewing online here. The book and exhibition catalog can be found for purchase at the artist's website here.

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