John James Audubon Artist Study

Artist Study and Nature Study Overlap with Audubon

Was John James Audubon a sketching naturalist or a nature loving artist?

Actually, his bird drawings were intended to be scientific sketches instead of art. But most people would agree that his careful observation of birds brought a realism and detail to his sketches that elevated them to the level of art.

If you chose Audubon for your Charlotte Mason styled artist study, be sure to incorporate what you learn about birds into your nature studies as well. Simply turn the focus of your nature walks to studying birds and make the most of your Audubon unit study.

Below are ideas, resources, and photos to inspire your study of Audubon.

Audubon's Birds Of America

STEP ONE If you're going to study Audubon as an artist, you'll need access to several of his prints.

You can use the slideshow on this page. Here are some directions to make it easier to use the images. First click on the thumbnail you want. That will bring it up into the top spot. Then right click and select "copy image location." Then open a new tab on your browser and paste (Ctrl V) the copied address into the new tab. By following these steps, you'll have only the single image visible in that new tab.

Or use these other online resources:

Audubon's Birds

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Blue HeronWhite GerfalconsBaltimore OrioleEastern BluebirdRoseate SpoonbillSnowy EgretSwanWhite PelicanEagleCarolina Parakeet
Blue Heron
Blue Heron
White Gerfalcons
White Gerfalcons
Baltimore Oriole
Baltimore Oriole
Eastern Bluebird
Eastern Bluebird
Roseate Spoonbill
Roseate Spoonbill
Snowy Egret
Snowy Egret
White Pelican
White Pelican
Carolina Parakeet
Carolina Parakeet

Planning Your Audubon Lessons

STEP TWO After you've selected some bird prints, find a suitable biography of Audubon - either an online version or one of the excellent books written especially for children.

Although a Charlotte Mason artist study does not have to incorporate the artist's biography, learning about Audubon will enrich your understanding of his bird prints and better enable you to make connections to your nature studies.

Additional Helps

  • American Flamingo is a PDF from Picturing America. It includes a small image of the artwork plus background information and discussion questions.
  • Famous Floridians has a section on Audubon -- a biography (web or PDF format), teacher notes, student questions, a map of FL, and a prereading guide.
  • How Audubon Came to Know About Birds, a chapter from Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans by Edward Eggleston (a book in the public domain)

Audubon painted almost 500 species of the approximately 700 regularly occurring North American birds.

Boy Who Drew Birds - Picture Book Biography

Homeschool Share has an entire FREE unit study for this book.

The Boy Who Drew Birds: A Story of John James Audubon (Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12)
The Boy Who Drew Birds: A Story of John James Audubon (Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12)

I have this book. It's a beautifully illustrated picture book that tells the story of John James Audubon.


More John James Audubon Biographies for Children

Into the Woods: John James Audubon Lives His Dream
Into the Woods: John James Audubon Lives His Dream

a picture book biography for grades 3-5


Audubon Printables

STEP THREE After reading about Audubon, have your child narrate back what he heard.

For narration you can use notebooking pages or minibooks. Or act out Audubon's life in role play! Do you have any bird puppets around your home? Pull them out and have fun.

Trying Your Hand at Drawing Birds

STEP FOUR Then BE an Audubon! Go outdoors and watch the birds. Draw what you see and collect your drawings in a nature journal.

Act like Audubon, and on your next nature walk, take along some paper and pencils. Try to find a quiet place to sit and watch birds come near you. Sketch them as best as you can in their natural habitat. If you find their frequent motions makes them impossible to capture on paper, take a few photographs and try to draw in more detail at home. Or use a reference book that you already have on hand.

Here are some tutorials and tips for drawing birds.

Draw 50 Birds

Draw 50 Birds: The Step-by-Step Way to Draw Chickadees, Peacocks, Toucans, Mallards, and Many More of Our Feathered Friends (Draw 50 Series)
Draw 50 Birds: The Step-by-Step Way to Draw Chickadees, Peacocks, Toucans, Mallards, and Many More of Our Feathered Friends (Draw 50 Series)

We have a couple of the Draw 50 Series. They are really great books -- realistic images with easy to duplicate lines. These books will really encourage your child to be a better artist.


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Audubon Guestbook 30 comments

Sensitive Fern profile image

Sensitive Fern 7 years ago

It seems to me that a lot of the ideas you have for homeschooling would be fun for adult art classes as well. :) 5* Audubon was a fascinating character.

enslavedbyfaeries 7 years ago

This lens is not only beautiful, but also and amazing source of information. Outstanding work!!

Linda BookLady profile image

Linda BookLady 7 years ago from Post Falls, Idaho, USA

I love these bird paintings! Now I've got to go check out the Cassatt lens - she's one of my favorite artists. 5* and a blessing.

EpicFarms profile image

EpicFarms 7 years ago

What a wonderful lens; his work is absolutely breathtaking! I love to draw birds (and just about any other critter that catches my eye :o) Very nicely done 5*

bdkz 7 years ago


jaye3000 7 years ago

Used to love looking at this stuff when I worked at the bookstore. Very nice lens :)

Heather426 profile image

Heather426 7 years ago from Wexford, Ireland

Wow! Beautiful lens, and like the last person said, this would be great for adults as well. Love Audobon, have a bunch of books with his drawing since I am a bird lover too. 5*

religions7 profile image

religions7 7 years ago

Great lens, blessed :)

OhMe profile image

OhMe 7 years ago from Pendleton, SC

His work is amazing. We have the big Audubon Book of Birds and I never tire looking at it. Great lens.

verymary profile image

verymary 7 years ago from Chicago area

This is lovely! Especially like the ideas for drawing birds. One of my sons loves to do that. 5*****

DougP LM profile image

DougP LM 7 years ago

Great resource for educators, and the slide show is awesome!

Holley Web profile image

Holley Web 7 years ago

I'm sending this one to my dad, the bird watcher! Beautiful and well written!

GrowWear 7 years ago

Loved the slideshow, too. Loved the children's work, too. Very nice resource!

TreasuresBrenda profile image

TreasuresBrenda 7 years ago from Canada

Nicely done & blessed by an Angel.

Kiwisoutback profile image

Kiwisoutback 7 years ago from Massachusetts

Audubon made some of the most distinctive art of his era. I've always admired his work. His art looks great on some of the prints you can find online. Excellent job, Squid Angel blessed!

seashell2 profile image

seashell2 7 years ago

Beautiful job... reminded me of my grandpa who loved birds, could name an amazing number of them! Thanks for this lens!

anonymous 7 years ago

What a beautiful lens.

AlisonMeacham profile image

AlisonMeacham 7 years ago

Beautiful lens with so many excellent resources as always

CCGAL profile image

CCGAL 7 years ago

Beautiful lens full of interesting and useful information! 5*!

ElizabethJeanAl profile image

ElizabethJeanAl 7 years ago

Lovely lens. Audubon is one of my favorite people in history. His work was awesome.

5* and Lensroll to John James Audubon.


anonymous 7 years ago

What a wonderful resource - thank you!

Michey LM profile image

Michey LM 7 years ago

This is a lovely lens, kids work is amazing, thanks


anonymous 7 years ago

I was so excited to find this study!! We are doing Audubon in a few weeks and I *thought* I might find something interesting online to supplement our study. Thanks so much!

eclecticeducati1 profile image

eclecticeducati1 6 years ago

Audubon definitely contributed a lot to both nature and art. This is a great study. Blessed by an Angel.

lemonsqueezy lm profile image

lemonsqueezy lm 6 years ago

Great lens. I did know that his sketches were intended for scientific use... not art. Lots of ideas for kids here (of course).

paperfacets profile image

paperfacets 6 years ago from La Verne, CA

Another scientist that followed Audubon in drawing nature for study and produced an art form is Ernst Haeckel.

I love these paintings. What a talented, before his time, man and thinker.

MargoPArrowsmith profile image

MargoPArrowsmith 5 years ago

He is the most amazing artist. I remember a book my parents had when I was a kid, I looked at it for hours.

DianaHarper LM profile image

DianaHarper LM 5 years ago

I found this lens just in time. We will be studying Audubon as we study Lewis and Clark.

anonymous 5 years ago

Hey Jimmie, Well I didn't find this until after we just finished our Audubon Study! But I just added two posts of our bird and art study-hopefully it will be helpful. Great lens!

anonymous 4 years ago

Great lens! I'm getting ready to post about my Audubon study. I did find the video, Drawn from Nature, on Netflix! I do want to put a 'warning' out there that it talks about the fact that Audubon drew a lady naked (as a paying job) and they show a lady undressing and laying naked although they cover her up... kind of. Also, if you have sensitive kids, there are some disturbing things: like the fact that Audubon said if he didn't kill 100 birds in a day it was a wasted day and the story of how he killed a hawk.

Starting at about 35 minutes is a terrific section where they show how they make the plates for the prints! I enjoyed the movie and learned a lot, but it isn't something I'd just sit down and watch with my daughter. Maybe sections of it??? Most of it, even.

Hope this helps!

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