Artist Study and Nature Study Overlap with Audubon
Was John James Audubon a sketching naturalist or a nature loving artist?
Actually, his bird drawings were intended to be scientific sketches instead of art. But most people would agree that his careful observation of birds brought a realism and detail to his sketches that elevated them to the level of art.
If you chose Audubon for your Charlotte Mason styled artist study, be sure to incorporate what you learn about birds into your nature studies as well. Simply turn the focus of your nature walks to studying birds and make the most of your Audubon unit study.
Below are ideas, resources, and photos to inspire your study of Audubon.
Audubon's Birds Of America
STEP ONE If you're going to study Audubon as an artist, you'll need access to several of his prints.
You can use the slideshow on this page. Here are some directions to make it easier to use the images. First click on the thumbnail you want. That will bring it up into the top spot. Then right click and select "copy image location." Then open a new tab on your browser and paste (Ctrl V) the copied address into the new tab. By following these steps, you'll have only the single image visible in that new tab.
Or use these other online resources:
- An online version of Audubon's Birds of America can be found at Audubon.org.
- Another online option is Audubon's Birds of America at the University of Pittsburgh.
- And, of course, Google Books has Audubon's The Birds of America available for full view.
Planning Your Audubon Lessons
STEP TWO After you've selected some bird prints, find a suitable biography of Audubon - either an online version or one of the excellent books written especially for children.
Although a Charlotte Mason artist study does not have to incorporate the artist's biography, learning about Audubon will enrich your understanding of his bird prints and better enable you to make connections to your nature studies.
- American Flamingo is a PDF from Picturing America. It includes a small image of the artwork plus background information and discussion questions.
- Famous Floridians has a section on Audubon -- a biography (web or PDF format), teacher notes, student questions, a map of FL, and a prereading guide.
- How Audubon Came to Know About Birds, a chapter from Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans by Edward Eggleston (a book in the public domain)
Audubon painted almost 500 species of the approximately 700 regularly occurring North American birds.
Boy Who Drew Birds - Picture Book Biography
Homeschool Share has an entire FREE unit study for this book.
More John James Audubon Biographies for Children
STEP THREE After reading about Audubon, have your child narrate back what he heard.
- Audubon Notebooking Pages Set
I created these notebooking pages especially to go along with the picture book The Boy Who Drew Birds. The bird featured in the pages is the Pewee Flycatcher (also called the Eastern Phoebe), the bird that Audubon watched and banded to prove the homi
- Free Bird Notebook Pages
This set is from Notebooking Nook and will be a nice complement to your Audubon study.
- Peakmore Academy's Free Audubon Notebooking Page
Number 30 on the list, this file is hosted at Mediafire.
- Backyard Birds Lapbook
Free printables for making a lapbook all about the birds you see in your own backyard.
- The Great Backyard Bird Count Coloring Pages
Four realistic bird images -- cardinal, woodpecker, robin, and chickadee.
- The Bird Coloring Book
A free PDF of images drawn by the noted bird artist and ornithologist, Louis Agassiz Fuertes.
- Exploring Creation with Zoology Free Notebooking Pages
Click on the red covers (large for proficient writers, small for younger children) for free notebooking pages to accompany Jeannie Fulbright's Exploring Creation curriculum. Even if you don't have this textbook, the notebooking pages can stand alone.
- Bird Minibook Templates
These were designed by a mom as part of a Girl Scout badge program.
Trying Your Hand at Drawing Birds
STEP FOUR Then BE an Audubon! Go outdoors and watch the birds. Draw what you see and collect your drawings in a nature journal.
Act like Audubon, and on your next nature walk, take along some paper and pencils. Try to find a quiet place to sit and watch birds come near you. Sketch them as best as you can in their natural habitat. If you find their frequent motions makes them impossible to capture on paper, take a few photographs and try to draw in more detail at home. Or use a reference book that you already have on hand.
Here are some tutorials and tips for drawing birds.
- Draw Your World -- a swan
- How to Draw Birds for a Naturalist Journal
- How to Draw a Flamingo
- Video from Expert Village -- How to Draw a Bird's Wing
- Drawing Birds poster tutorial part 1, part 2, and part 3 -- These are retail, but click on the image to enlarge, and you can see the tips right on your screen.
Draw 50 Birds
- Harmony Art Mom
Did you know that Charlotte Mason referenced John James Audubon in her writings? Read Barb's blog entry to read the quote.
- Free Bird Images
Black and white collages of various birds, with names labeled. These two sheets would make nice nature journal pages.
- Birdwatching: Art
A is For Anteater blog shares a fantastic post about their birdwatching studies that included a look at Audubon.
- Audubon's Plate No. 85, American Robin
This meaty, 2 page PDF is a guide for teachers about one particular piece of art (Plate No. 85, American Robin) and the artist. It has activity ideas and discussion starters.
anonymous on May 03, 2012:
Great lens! I'm getting ready to post about my Audubon study. I did find the video, Drawn from Nature, on Netflix! I do want to put a 'warning' out there that it talks about the fact that Audubon drew a lady naked (as a paying job) and they show a lady undressing and laying naked although they cover her up... kind of. Also, if you have sensitive kids, there are some disturbing things: like the fact that Audubon said if he didn't kill 100 birds in a day it was a wasted day and the story of how he killed a hawk.
Starting at about 35 minutes is a terrific section where they show how they make the plates for the prints! I enjoyed the movie and learned a lot, but it isn't something I'd just sit down and watch with my daughter. Maybe sections of it??? Most of it, even.
Hope this helps!
anonymous on May 17, 2011:
Hey Jimmie, Well I didn't find this until after we just finished our Audubon Study! But I just added two posts of our bird and art study-hopefully it will be helpful. Great lens!
DianaHarper LM on May 04, 2011:
I found this lens just in time. We will be studying Audubon as we study Lewis and Clark.
MargoPArrowsmith on January 21, 2011:
He is the most amazing artist. I remember a book my parents had when I was a kid, I looked at it for hours.
Sherry Venegas from La Verne, CA on September 14, 2010:
Another scientist that followed Audubon in drawing nature for study and produced an art form is Ernst Haeckel.
I love these paintings. What a talented, before his time, man and thinker.
lemonsqueezy lm on September 10, 2010:
Great lens. I did know that his sketches were intended for scientific use... not art. Lots of ideas for kids here (of course).
eclecticeducati1 on March 30, 2010:
Audubon definitely contributed a lot to both nature and art. This is a great study. Blessed by an Angel.
anonymous on December 06, 2009:
I was so excited to find this study!! We are doing Audubon in a few weeks and I *thought* I might find something interesting online to supplement our study. Thanks so much!
Michey LM on July 03, 2009:
This is a lovely lens, kids work is amazing, thanks
anonymous on June 03, 2009:
What a wonderful resource - thank you!
ElizabethJeanAl on May 29, 2009:
Lovely lens. Audubon is one of my favorite people in history. His work was awesome.
5* and Lensroll to John James Audubon.
CCGAL on May 23, 2009:
Beautiful lens full of interesting and useful information! 5*!
AlisonMeacham on May 22, 2009:
Beautiful lens with so many excellent resources as always
anonymous on May 10, 2009:
What a beautiful lens.
seashell2 on May 04, 2009:
Beautiful job... reminded me of my grandpa who loved birds, could name an amazing number of them! Thanks for this lens!
Kiwisoutback from Massachusetts on May 04, 2009:
Audubon made some of the most distinctive art of his era. I've always admired his work. His art looks great on some of the prints you can find online. Excellent job, Squid Angel blessed!
Treasures By Brenda from Canada on May 04, 2009:
Nicely done & blessed by an Angel.
GrowWear on May 03, 2009:
Loved the slideshow, too. Loved the children's work, too. Very nice resource!
Holley Web on May 03, 2009:
I'm sending this one to my dad, the bird watcher! Beautiful and well written!
DougP LM on May 03, 2009:
Great resource for educators, and the slide show is awesome!
Mary from Chicago area on May 02, 2009:
This is lovely! Especially like the ideas for drawing birds. One of my sons loves to do that. 5*****
Nancy Tate Hellams from Pendleton, SC on May 02, 2009:
His work is amazing. We have the big Audubon Book of Birds and I never tire looking at it. Great lens.
religions7 on May 02, 2009:
Great lens, blessed :)
Heather Burns from Wexford, Ireland on May 01, 2009:
Wow! Beautiful lens, and like the last person said, this would be great for adults as well. Love Audobon, have a bunch of books with his drawing since I am a bird lover too. 5*
jaye3000 on May 01, 2009:
Used to love looking at this stuff when I worked at the bookstore. Very nice lens :)
bdkz on May 01, 2009:
EpicFarms on May 01, 2009:
What a wonderful lens; his work is absolutely breathtaking! I love to draw birds (and just about any other critter that catches my eye :o) Very nicely done 5*
Linda Jo Martin from Post Falls, Idaho, USA on May 01, 2009:
I love these bird paintings! Now I've got to go check out the Cassatt lens - she's one of my favorite artists. 5* and a blessing.
enslavedbyfaeries on May 01, 2009:
This lens is not only beautiful, but also and amazing source of information. Outstanding work!!
Sensitive Fern on May 01, 2009:
It seems to me that a lot of the ideas you have for homeschooling would be fun for adult art classes as well. :) 5* Audubon was a fascinating character.