Hello! I’m Tara Kate, a bird artist and illustrator and the owner of the Bird Artist’s Cottage. I am creating drawings and paintings of birds and their habitats in Oregon, located in the Pacific Northwest of the U.S.
I am pursuing my dream of being an artist and expressing my love and passion for the natural world. I started in my mid-50’s without formal training and I’ve been a full-time artist for four years. Before I became an artist, I was a bird biologist and I studied how these amazing creatures live and behave.
I am fascinated by bird behavior—how birds go about living their lives, the daily small dramas, the ordinary routines that make up what they experience every day. My background as a field biologist strongly influences my perspective. Because I spend so much time in their company, I feel a closeness to birds, an affinity. And it’s that affinity that I try to convey in my work. It’s a way of trying to communicate not just their physical appearance, but their personalities as well.
My work is strongly impacted by the region where I live: the Pacific Northwest. Currently, I’m working in graphite; I enjoy the subtle shading, shadows, and value contrast that are possible in this medium. Part of what I love about drawing birds is showing them with biological accuracy. Graphite allows me to work in a more controlled and precise manner than I am able to do in other mediums. I also work in colored pencil, watercolor, and acrylics.
Small, tender details like the shadows of the bird’s claws on its perch make me happiest. I experience the same feelings when I’m watching the birds, seeing subtle features of feathers, bills, and behaviors. It’s capturing those often overlooked nuances that gives me the greatest fulfillment as an artist.
When people look at my artwork I hope they’ll begin to see birds in a new way. Perhaps they’ll start to pay more attention to a bird in their yard or flocks flying past. Maybe they’ll start to think of birds as individuals with dignity and beauty and who are deserving of attention and protection. I hope that somehow my work will make a small contribution to the conservation and protection of birds and their habitats.
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Doctorate in Biology, 2000.
2021 A Calling of Birds, The Elizabeth Jones Art Center, Portland, OR; May 6 – July 25, 2021; group exhibition
2021 Look Close, The Arts Center, Corvallis OR; March 31 – May 8, 2021; joint exhibition with photographer Phil Coleman
2019 Art for the Heart Pre-event Group Exhibition, The Arts Center, Corvallis, OR; September 24 – October 4, 2019
2019 Residents of the Artist Accelerator Program Group Exhibition, The Arts Center, Corvallis, OR; January 1 – 31, 2019
Artist Accelerator Program of The Arts Center, Corvallis, OR; Oct 22, 2018 – Feb 24, 2019
“An Affinity for Birds” in Uppercase Issue 50 Visualized Science Reader Submissions, Page 58. July/August/September 2021.
“Prickly” in The Art of Being an Artist. Exhibition catalog. January 2018.
“Girl, You Don’t Know Nothing” in A Glorious Freedom: Older Women Leading Extraordinary Lives by Lisa Congdon. Chronicle Books. 2017.
“The Beauty of Science” 2022. Invited presentation for the Southern Illinois Audubon Society.
“The Art of Science” 2021. Invited presentation for the Bird Nerds Club of Oregon State University.
Scientific Illustrations in Published Papers
Austin, Suzanne H., W. Douglas Robinson, Vincenzo A. Ellis, Tara Rodden Robinson, Robert E. Ricklefs. 2019 “Figure 1. An illustration of the temperate scarlet tanager (Piranga olivacea) and tropical crimson-backed tanager (Ramphocelus dimidiatus) in Nest attendance by tropical and temperate passerine birds: Same constancy, different strategy. Ecology and Evolution.
Robinson, W. Douglas, Christina Partipilo, Tyler Hallman, Karan Fairchild, James P. Fairchild. 2019. “Figure 1. First spring arrival dates of four bird species at Alder Spring, Benton County, Oregon.” in Idiosyncratic changes in spring arrival dates of Pacific Northwest migratory birds. Peer J: Biodiversity and Conservation.
2020-21 Host, monthly Marketing Meetup for Artists, The Arts Center, Corvallis, OR