Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Brumfield's birds in a new book

Birds absolutely fascinate Jennifer Brumfield, and it shows in almost everything that she does. The 23-year-old Copley, Ohio, resident says she began observing birds at birth.

Much later, she served as assistant editor of American Birding Association's A Bird's-Eye View, and she "ever so excitedly" earned the ABA's Young Birder of the Year award in the 1997-1998 contest in the 13- to 15-year-olds category.

Brumfield continues to participate in ABA's programs for young birders (for instance, helping to lead a field trip during the Tucson convention's Young Birder Track) and is active in the Ohio Ornithological Society.

In trying to pinpoint the single most-important influence in her birding skills, she fails. "So many of my friends and family have stood by me, supported me and birded WITH me that it can be very hard to single out only a select few. However, my dear father Dave Brumfield, my grandfather Joseph Odehnal and my loyal mentor Larry Rosche have been and continue to be some of my dearest birding companions - having brought me much inspiration, opportunity and encouragement over the years.

"Likewise, I could not complete these phrases without mentioning the vagabond band of 'bird bums' that makes up the 20-something birders whom I have spent many a great minute, day and hour alongside in the field," she says. "Cheers to all of you."

For her artistic skills, Brumfield credits "the One that is not of this world. I endeavor to utilize this gift to my fullest capacity - being thankful, daily, that I have been given the opportunity to combine my passion for birding and the natural world with my scientific illustration."

Some mortals, however, receive some credit. "If it were not for my parents who placed the first drawing utensils within my reach; or my friends who said, 'That drawing looks cool;' or all of my friends, family and acquaintences who continuously urged me to 'stick with it,'" she says, "I would certainly not have attained the thrills and adventures that come with being a bird artist."

You can see evidence of her talents here. She recently provided some of the illustrations for Birds of the Cleveland Region, available through the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, and drew the image that appears on the cover.

Brumfield says the illos weren't created solely for the book, with the exception of the cover, "which was commissioned by my dear friend and mentor Larry Rosche, author of the book. Each illustration has its own story and, likewise, its own length of composition. Some of them took only a few hours; others were worked on at random times over a period of days."

The artist "most definitely" prefers to work with colored pencils: "Each of the illustrations in BOC was composed in colored pencil -- specifically 'watercolor' colored pencils (which needn't necessarily be applied with water!). Perhaps one of the most neglected mediums in scientific illustration, I cannot break myself with my love affair with these easy-to-use yet stunningly accurate tools.

"It has been suggested to me by some of my dear friends that colored pencils are considered 'second rate' to paints," Brumfield says. "I refuse (stubbornly yet politely) to accept this respective observation and continue to use colored pencils at will, with very satisfactory results.

"I enjoy the oft-times 'sketched' quality they bring and their eerily-similar likeness to paints," she says. "Quite plainly, I just like 'em."

She's currently working on a booklet called The Fascinated Naturalist's Guide to Dragonflies and Damselflies of Cleveland Metroparks. It should be published in the first half of this year. Her work also appears in Dragonflies and Damselflies of Northeast Ohio (2002), available through the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

In addition to her ability to render birds and other winged creatures on paper, Jen can create laughter among those around her. When I see her at a birding event, I know that her witty comments will prompt a chuckle, if not a loud guffaw.

You can see her wit at work on her website, even regarding such a dry topic as copyright infringement:

To disobey the copyright laws is to stick a fork in my heart. Please don't stick a fork in my heart. I should think that it would hurt very much and that you should feel very badly doing it. Go draw your own picture. Cheers.


Blogger Fuller said...

I must admit, that I am not a birder, but I was directed to your blog my dear friend Jen Brumfield. Your write-up of her is wonderful. You truly get a sense of who she really is in your story. Congratulations on a job well done.

February 01, 2006 5:36 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

Thank you for the compliments, Fuller. I'm pleased to know that one of Jen's close friends approves of the piece.

February 01, 2006 5:52 PM  
Blogger Julie Zickefoose said...

I feel hot breath on my neck.

February 02, 2006 8:02 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

What an awesome compliment to Jen, Zick (c:

February 03, 2006 9:37 AM  

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