The six species of birds on the Garden Birds in the 2019 Netherlands stamp sheetlet are common in the Netherlands. But no matter how “normal” they seem, thanks to illustrator Michelle Dujardin, they come to life on the stamps in their own way.
Of the six birds on the stamp sheetlet, the goldcrest is perhaps the least known. It is the smallest bird in Europe and according to a recent count there are tens of thousands of breeding pairs in the Netherlands. Yet they are not often seen during the breeding season. That is because they mainly live in the tops of conifers. The house sparrow, on the other hand, you come across, as the name suggests, everywhere in and around villages and cities. The great tit and the blue tit have adapted to the human environment. They like to nest in nest boxes and take advantage of human food such as fat balls, seeds and peanuts.
The stamps’ designer and illustrator Michelle Dujardin has a soft spot for small, round birds such as the goldcrest and the wren: “They actually still look like the egg they hatched from. But these kind of flying eggs can produce beautiful singing. On the stamps I have depicted them as I prefer to see them: as if every bird lives, has a soul and could fly up like that. ”
Michelle Dujardin has a background in psychology and was looking for a way to combine this with her artistry. She was introduced to Zen drawing, an intuitive way of working, in which during the first phase you do not look at the paper, but only at the subject. A relaxed way of working that really suits her. After the sketching phase, the birds were given colour by means of watercolours, Japanese paint pens and Indian ink. They have become accurately painted images that allow us to look at these everyday animals in a new way. Michelle also created the artwork for the Dutch 2019 Europa stamps seen below. The stamp on the left is the goldfinch (Putter) and on the right is a waxwing (Pestvogel).
In 2019 the Europa bird stamps from Ukraine were voted by collectors as the year’s best design. They show the White Stork and the Thrush Nightingale.