Other Animals

Reimagining the Black Skimmer

As a child, Ana Galvañ would join her grandfather on walks along the southeastern coast of Spain, delighting in the infinite calm sea and antics of seabirds. “I have a very strong attachment to the sea and everything related to it,” says the Murcia-based illustrator. That connection often influences her art, and it immediately drew her to John James Audubon’s portrait of a Black Skimmer grazing the ocean. Audubon himself was particularly taken with the bird, which feeds by keeping its lower beak submerged as it zips effortlessly over the surface. “The flight of the Black Skimmer is perhaps more elegant than that of any waterbird with which I am acquainted,” he wrote.

Galvañ wanted to capture this fluidity, emphasizing the harmony of the bird, sea, and sky. She imported Audubon’s painting into Clip Studio and traced the bird’s body as a foundation for her own work. Then she added bold colors, distinct shapes, and stencil textures to contrast the static image. Finally, to imbue the image with warmth, she used Photoshop to tweak each component’s curves and color profiles. She wanted to create something “elegant, synthetic, and beautiful,” Galvañ says, a piece that would convey nature’s intimate connections.

Illustration: John James Audubon

This story originally ran in the Spring 2020 issue. To receive our print magazine, become a member by making a donation today.​

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