It’s amazing what some people can do with just a few sheets of paper and a pair of scissors – such as Colombian artist Diana Beltran Herrera, who has spent the last few months making hundreds of beautiful and remarkably lifelike birds.
Herrera studied design in Bogota before moving to Finland to study ceramic sculpture. She’s now enrolled on a fine art course at the University of West England and has been making paper sculptures for years in her spare time.
“Before I started to work with birds I did many other works in paper – I started with geometric shapes just to see how far I could transform it from a 2D to a 3D medium, then I started to play with new techniques and represent things I have always liked – some fish, animals and fruits.
“By the time I started my work with birds I was in Helsinki and after creating a whole exhibition in wood, I came back to paper as a relaxing therapy, representing Finnish landscape scenes with birds. That was where this started [and] when I went back to Colombia, I started to observe local birds and represent them in paper,” she explains.
Since then, Herrera’s colourful creations have been displayed at exhibitions in the UK, the US and Colombia. She has also staged a solo show in Florida, open until December 8, which includes eight paper sculptures of local bird species.
To make her birds, Herrera finds a photograph to work from then places vector lines over it in Illustrator. “I use this to measure the size of every piece, like a puzzle. Then I start to cut everything – tail, wings, feathers, eyes and beak – before I paint it and leave it to dry,” she explains. Painted pieces are applied to a main frame, also made out of paper, and wire mesh legs. “It takes me anywhere from five days to two weeks or more, depending on the model,” she says.
Herrera also creates collages and landscape drawings and is now working on a book and mixed media exhibition. Of course, she isn’t the first person to make great paper sculptures (there are some good examples and tutorials on YouTube) but the fine detail and use of colour in her work really sets it apart from others’.
“I love working with paper. It’s a cheap material – it doesn’t need industrial processes or expensive tools – and it is an easy material to glue, to form and to cut. It’s very delicate but once you develop some skill with it, you just need a blade or scissors and some ideas.”
You can see more of Herrera’s work at Flickr or on her website. Her solo exhibition, Birds of Florida, is on display at the Cornell Fine Arts Museum until December 8 – for details see rollins.edu/cfam