John Muir Laws's guide to drawing birds is itself winged, soaring between a devotion not only to art but also to the lives, forms, and postures of the birds themselves. Here, artistic technique and the exquisite details of natural history intertwine, and drawing becomes the vehicle for seeing. As Laws writes, "To draw feathers, you must understand how feathers grow, overlap, and insert into the body. To create the body, you must have an understanding of the bird's skeletal structure. To pose this skeleton, you must be able to perceive the energy, intention, and life of the bird."
This how-to guide will perfect the technique of serious arists but also, perhaps more importantly, it will provide guidance for those who insist they can't draw. Leading the mind and hand through a series of detailed exercises, Laws delivers what he promises: that "drawing birds opens you to the beauty of the world."
John Muir Laws is a naturalist, educator, and artist, with degrees in conservation and resource studies from the University of California, Berkeley; in wildlife biology from the University of Montana, Missoula; and in scientific illustration from the University of California, Santa Cruz. He is a research associate with the California Academy of Sciences. Visit his website at www.johnmuirlaws.com.
"[...] If you’ve ever even remotely considered drawing birds, you will find The Laws Guide to Drawing Birds eye-opening, and then essential. If you are already an experienced artist, this guide is so “detailed and thorough” that it would be helpful to you as well, as David Allen Sibley writes in the forward here. Even if you never plan to take up pen or brush, there are still important lessons that you can learn. Altogether then, I’d recommend it to anyone interested in birds (excepting Mr. Sibley – I think he’s ok!)."
– Grant McCreary (20-12-2012), read the full review at The Birder's Library
"Tips that only an expert could provide are included throughout. Bird-watchers will be pleasantly surprised to discover how helpful this book can be toward fully seeing and understanding the birds they spot."
– Library Journal
"I have read through Jack Laws's Guide to Drawing Birds, and my only comment is that it is outstanding – both from an artistic and ornithological perspective. I wish I had such a book when I first began to draw birds. Reading through the text and, more importantly, exploring his drawings and paintings, leads me through the visual journey that Jack took when he observed the subtle details of each bird. The book is well written, richly illustrated, and beautifully designed."
– Robert Petty, Director of Field Support, Audubon
"[...] For me, this book contains both excellent and less favourable sections. The weakness of this type of book is that a single author presents methods of work which are successful for them, whereas several specialist authors would have given a much greater breadth of alternative paths, materials and techniques from which the reader may be enthused."
– Alan Harris, British Birds, 17-02-2013