BCR 139: Catherine Hamilton, Bird Artist & Naturalist
Today’s show is one of our feature series called “Women In Conservation” with this series 3nd guest Catherine Hamilton, Bird Artist, Naturalist. Catherine Hamilton about her evolution as a bird artist, inspiration, favorite subject matters, field sketching prowess, and her dedication to supporting bird conservation efforts.
Catherine got her love of birds at the age of 6 years of age from her father (a neuro scientist) that was interested in sparrows and shorebirds. Catherine says she was pretty much born with a pencil in her in hand from that time forward. Her parents would refer to her as the kid with no Corpus Callosum. Grabbing pencils and crayons with both hands and drawing with both hands. She is a lefty but also abidectorous.
Catherine holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Rhode Island School of Design and a Master of Fine Arts from Bennington College, and has taught painting and drawing at the Rhode Island School of Design and other institutions throughout the 27 years she has been a professional artist. Catherine’s fine art can be found in private, corporate, and small museum collections in the US and abroad. Her illustrations and writing can be found in books like the Princeton University Press book “The Warbler Guide” and “Good Birders Still Don’t Wear White” from Houghton Mifflin, and in journals and magazines such as the journal “Nature,” “Living Bird,” “Bird Observer,” and “Orion Magazine.” Catherine is featured in the 2012 HBO documentary “Birders: the Central Park Effect,” and is the presenter for the 2018 short film “A Reason For Hope,” where in her role as ZEISS Sports Optics’ Ambassador for Birding, Catherine worked with partner organization Birdlife International to help promote conservation awareness through birding and art.
- Tell us about your upbringing and the development of an artistic sense and interest in the natural world.
- How did you come to teach fine art at the Rhode Island School of Design, what was this life like?
- Tell us about this period of your life when you were an accomplished oil painter with major exhibits and sold fine art through a gallery.
- You unexpectedly, developed, a severe allergy to the solvents in the oil paint.
- To recover from the crushing loss of your career, you dug a pair of used binoculars out of the closet, an old gift from her father, and started birding.
- What media do you use, you clearly have not given up being an artist?
- You have now transitioned into the world of commercial art.
- Tell us about the board game. Evolution.
- What else goes on in the life of an itinerant nature artist, you must have lots of projects in the works?
- What are your favorite exotic travels to far-flung locale for birding adventures and art that you have experienced recently?
- You had recently returned from Morocco where you were painting some of the last wild colonies of the northern bald ibis, one of the rarest birds in the world. Bird Life International commissioned a short film on the project, “A Reason For Hope” which was to debut at the Fair, how did it go?
- You joined author Scott Weidensaul’s expedition to northeastern India’s remote Nagaland state as the expedition artist to witness the spectacle of the Amur Falcon migration. Tell us more about this event.
- As a successful woman, in a culture still evolving out of male dominated mind set, what particular challenges have you faced and what actions did you pursue to rise above those who would put you in your place so to speak?
- What would you like to accomplish or do in the next five years?
- Is there any place on earth that you hope to visit soon?
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Great interview of Catherine; really enjoyed it. Your questions really got to the heart of Catherine’s story, which is so interesting.