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The Illustrated Bald Eagle and

The Illustrated Owl - Screech and Snowy

By Denny Rogers

With Paint Patterns and Color Charts

By Lori Corbett

Reviewed By Mike Bloomquist

eagleIn honor of the imminent start of the baseball season, we're going to have a book review double header this issue.  They're going to be long innings since, as most of you reading this know, I'm not a real accomplished bird carver (that and I'm long winded by nature).  As limited as my birdcarving experience is, I have this secret bird carving project.  Several years ago I bought a 2'x3' poster... a photograph of a snowy owl in the most awesome pose I have ever seen. Unfortunately, the only movement on this project has been collected photos, two VERY expensive owl books, and the decision that the final carving can't be anything smaller than full scale.  Hey, we will carve no bird before it's time.  Anyway, the second book in this review should have brought me to "critical mass" and my not-so-secret-anymore project may actually see chisel meet wood this year.

I'm going to discus these books together because their very similiar in structure, then we will talk about their differences.  There is not a lot of text in either book...  only four pages for the bald eagle, three for the screech and two for the snowy.  That little bit of text has a lot of information though, such as average size, some behavior, diet, habitat, nesting and flight.  All the right stuff is there to help you with placing the bird in a correct pose/habitat/situation for your own personal pattern and project. After that, each bird section has a wealth of drawings, measurements and illustrations by Denny Rogers.  Then each has painting and color direction by Lori Corbett, and finally art work of the subject by others and actual pictures of the bird in various poses.  Even taking each owl section by itself there's slightly more material for the owls than the eagle.  It's not that you're getting short changed with the eagle book, you're just getting bonus material with the owls.  My favorite pose of all the books is the screech owl with the mouse in its beak, so it must be special because you already know I'm biased towards snowy owls.

I'm not going to give you the entire table of contents like I usually do. They're too finely broken out and very long. The books' general layouts go like this:

The Illustrated Eagle

  • About the Author
  • Foreward
  • The American Bald Eagle
  • Drawing
    • Anatomy
    • Measurements
    • Head view & Measurements
    • Full Body Views
    • Tail Feather Views
    • Wing Views
  • Reference
    • Paint Patterns and Color Charts
    • Gallery
    • Reference Photos

The Illustrated Owl, Screech and Snowy

  • Foreword
  • The Screech Owl
    • Drawings
      • Measurements
      • Anatomy
      • Color Specifications
      • Glide Patterns
      • Feathers
      • Poses
    • Reference
      • Color Charts
      • Gallery
      • Reference Photos
  • The Snowy Owl
    • Repeat the index above

owlOne constant PLUS with both books is Lori Corbett's paint and color sections.  She also writes my second favorite part of the books, the description of her snowy owl encounter.  Very poetic account... it puts you right there.  Recently I got a chance to talk to Tom Matus (Carving Antique Duck Decoys) for a bit and remember him voicing his dislike of "painting schedules" which are those step-by-step, now you paint with this color, now paint here with this color, etc., etc.  Recalling the conversation made clear what is great about Lori Corbett's sections.  They are not painting schedules, they are painting strategies.  She guides you, but doesn't force your hand.  She defines the parameters for how a bird is colored and patterned, but then encourages the artist by reminding them that there is wiggle room.  No "exact", "correct" or "true" way to color an individual bird exists.

Two small nit picks... the bald eagle pose on the cover, which is then repeated several  times throughout the book, just doesn't look right.  The outstretched neck looks like it's going to crow like a rooster or hack up a fish bone.  This doesn't hurt the reference value of the drawings, but I wouldn't use it as a pose for a carving.  Granted I've seen more artist representations of eagles than I have real eagles, so the fault might be mine, but I haven't been able to shake that impression since I first saw the book.

Second nit pick (observation):  There seems to be several years between the illustrations of the eagle and the illustrations of the owls.  The drawings of the owls have a wider range of tones, line values, and are more three dimensional.  There's more information there.  Also, there are more poses for the owls and the poses are more dynamic than those of the eagle.

Bottom line, both books are excellent references.  That's coming from me and some of the qualified bird carver friends they were shown to.  If , however, you're equally interested in all three birds and can't afford both books, go for the Illustrated Owl.  You'll get way more bang for your buck.

Well fellow artists, 'till next time keep them edges keen, the chips piled high, and don't keep those secret projects too secret.
Keep on Carvin'
-Mike Bloomquist->

mikeBMike Bloomquist is a carver and carving teacher, Senior Editor of Notes From The Net and has written many of the book and video reviews that grace the pages of this publication.

You may visit Mike's web site, Wooden Dreams Woodcarving, HERE or email him at m.bloomquistATverizonDOTnet.



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