I was researching a project for Audubon today and found myself digging around for images from Charley Harper's Giant Golden Book of Biology. I instantly recognized a moth in one of the images from the book as one I had photographed last summer on Cape Cod. There is something truly astonishing about Harpers works and his ability to distill creatures down and completely capture their essence.
on the subject of his simplified forms, Harper noted:
"Thereâ€™s some who want to count all the feathers in the wings and then others who never think about counting the feathers, like me."
In some of my own fumblings in scientific illustration I have become obsessive about describing every crevice and feather of an animal only to discover that what I have created is still and lifeless. I admire Harper's works so much because with minimalism he so earnestly captures the living organisms he is describing.