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Birds of the World with Robin Hill


Robin Hill was born in Brisbane, Australia in 1932. A year later his family moved to England, where they lived for seventeen years.  It was here, during a boyhood of escaping from restrictive schools to the out-of-doors, that he developed a passion for the natural world and the keen powers of observation so beautifully reflected in his detailed paintings of birds and other wildlife.

Hill's formal training in art began early at the Wimbledon School of Art and continued at the National Gallery of Art School and the Royal Melbourne College. Chafing at the academic regimen,  Robin Hill "went bush" for three years -  a period of rich experiences in the Australian wilderness so different from the domesticated park lands of England. 

Robin Hill, Masked Duck, 1986. Watercolor

and gouache on paperboard. Morris Museum

of Art, August, Georgia.


To support himself during this unstructured immersion in nature and painting, he worked intermittently as a sheep shearer, cowboy, and blacksmith.  Eventually, Hill returned to finish his degree in art and design and began his career as an "all round" painter and graphic artist, including a position with ABC -- the nascent television station of Australian Broadcasting Commission.

Whether in the bush observing wildlife or in an academic setting,  Robin Hill was always developing his art, evolving the talent and techniques that enabled him to pursue his avocation of bird painting.  This passion soon overwhelmed other interests, and Hill elected to concentrate exclusively on painting and writing about natural history.


His first exhibition of bird paintings, hosted by the Australian Galleries in Melbourne, was a critical and  commercial success, followed by exhibitions in Sydney, Johannesburg, London, New York and other cities in Australia and the United States.  After publishing his first book BUSHLAND AND SEASHORE which won a design award ,  Hill returned to England for two

years and exhibited regularly at the Tryon Gallery in London.


Upon his return to Australia, Robin Hill wrote and illustrated  BUSH QUEST published by Landsdowne Press.  This book provided the seminal idea for a nature television series starring Robin Hill produced by ABC.  This very popular show BUSH QUEST WITH ROBIN HILL was the first nature documentary series produced by ABC and spawned the series WILD AUSTRALIA.

During this period Robin Hill was commissioned by Thomas Nelson, Ltd. to write and paint the illustrations for a comprehensive volume on AUSTRALIAN BIRDS. 

Robin Hill, Little Blue Heron and Common

Egret, 1987. Watercolor and gouache on

paperboard. Morris Museum of Art, August,

Georgia.

The lavishly produced book was a landmark in Australian ornithology and publishing, selling 30,000 copies in the first few weeks.


Robin Hill relocated to the United States in 1971, establishing  studios in Virginia and  Washington, D.C.  Following successful exhibitions in Middleburg, Virginia and New York,  there was a solo exhibition at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. and also an exhibition cosponsored by the World Wildlife Fund and the Australian Embassy.

In the 1980s the fine restaurant group Clyde's commissioned Robin Hill to paint a series of eighteen large-scale watercolors of birds, including triptychs measuring as large as nine by five feet.  The beautiful composition and exquisite detail of these works led to numerous commissions for similar large scale paintings.


During the 1970s and 1980s,  Robin Hill executed an ongoing commission to paint complete sets of American birds --  The Endangered Species;  The Ducks, Geese and Swans;  The Upland Game Birds;  The Birds of Prey; and The Marsh Birds.  This series of more than 200 paintings is part of the permanent collection of The Morris Museum in Augusta, Georgia which opened in 1992.


The series of THE UPLAND GAME BIRDS was exhibited around the United States as part of the Smithsonian Institution's travelling exhibitions in the 1980s.   THE LOST AND VANISHING series, portraying extinct and endangered birds of North America, was also a travelling exhibition in support of the World Wild-Life Fund.



The Ducks, Geese and Swans series was published as  THE WATERFOWL OF NORTH AMERICA -  a beautifully designed,  large format book with illustrations reproduced with unusual faithfulness to the stunning originals in colour and detail. With a foreword by the Duke of Edinburgh published by Morris Communications Corporation in 1987, which captures North America's 51 species of waterfowl in 53 colour plates reproducing Hill's watercolour paintings.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Hill expanded his repertoire to include paintings of dogs, farm animals, other wildlife, still-life, industrial sites, pre-Columbian ruins and other subjects. 

Robin Hill, Emperor Goose, 1982. Watercolor

and gouache on paperboard. Morris Museum

of Art, August, Georgia.

In addition to his well known watercolour /gouache paintings, he has  painting in oils, particularly for portraits and for some wildlife paintings.

In addition to his books, Robin Hill's writings on nature and travel have appeared in various newspapers and magazines. He had a regular, illustrated column in the Melbourne Age newspaper for many years, and was a regular contributor to Cruising World magazine, for which he wrote about wildlife as well as his sailing experiences.


MAKE A POMPOM DUCK

Supplies:

Yarn

Chenille stem

Construction paper

Googly Eyes

Scissors

Glue

Thread (optional)


Wrap yarn around three fingers, until about 1inch thick. Tie very tightly around the middle using separate piece of yarn/thread.

Wrap yarn around four fingers, until about 1inch thick. Tie very tightly around the middle using separate piece of yarn/thread.

Cut loops of yarn through the center, to create pom pom.

To neaten the pom pom, give it a haircut. Then tie your two pom poms together.

Glue on your eyes, beak (construction paper), and feet (chenille stem).



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