Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Courtship Display

What good are feathered "wings" if you can't fly?
Khaan mckennai, oil on board by James Gurney
Well, if a predator or another male threatens you, you can spread your wings and tail to make yourself look bigger. And you can attract females.

And since you are lightly built, your wings can help you jump a little farther and higher.


Clark, J.M., Norell, M.A., & Barsbold, R. 2001. Link and Link
This little dinosaur is Khaan mckennai, an oviraptorid. It's possible that the beautifully preserved fossils above represent a male and female.

I did these sketches in watercolor and gouache to show the art director at Ranger Rick, a magazine for young naturalists produced by the National Wildlife Federation. 



Here's a little video taking you behind the scenes (link to Facebook). The artwork appears in the new March, 2017 issue of Ranger Rick Magazine.


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Taking a Dust Bath

Sparrows do it. Donkeys do it. Elephants do it. And ostriches do it. It makes sense to me that a big feathered dinosaur like Yutyrannus would take a dust bath, too. 



I checked with a couple of paleontologists and they said that the 30 foot long tyrannosaur relative would more likely squat down with their belly to the dirt than roll over on their side.



In this short video of the process, I take you behind the scenes. (Link to Facebook video)

My sketches are in gouache, which gives a quick impression that I can show to the art director of Ranger Rick Magazine, where the illustrations appear in the March 2017 issue.


I make a new maquette because none of my existing dinosaur maquettes are in this pose. The head looks big because of camera distortion. 

The sculpt is made with a 2-part epoxy called Magic Sculpt over a core of Sculpey. I use aluminum wire for the armature. (Thanks, Clayton) Even though the maquette doesn't have a feathery surface, the big planes are clear, so I can light it and have a sense of light and shadow.
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Monday, February 20, 2017

New Dino Paintings: Flyover Preview



Here's a flyover preview of three new feathered-dinosaur paintings. (Link to video on Facebook)


The set-up for shooting flyovers is all home made. The camera is suspended from a Lego cart (tires removed). That cart rolls on two dollar-store metal broomsticks, pulled by a geared down Lego motor. Smoke machine is off to the right.

I'll be sharing more about these paintings over the next few days.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Hotel Catalina

Hotel Catalina, oil, 8 x 12 inches, Catalina Island
I painted this view of Hotel Catalina about 35 years ago. The layers of paint are fairly thinly applied on a panel that was pre-primed with a warm acrylic ground. For the window details, I used a 1/4 inch synthetic flat brush, using Liquin for the medium.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Tennessee man builds Dinotopia in miniature

Photos by Jack Vance of the Johnson City Times
Bill Lankford, 78, of Johnson City, Tennessee, built this amazing miniature of Dinotopia.

He worked on the 12-foot-long creation for over a year. It includes stairways, bridges, canals inspired by scenes from Waterfall City, Pooktook, and Sauropolis. 


His wife Linda helped him by sculpting over 100 humans and dinosaurs using epoxy sculpting compound

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The miniature world has been packed up and shipped to Taipei to be exhibited in the Miniatures Museum of Taiwan.

Feature article about Lankford's Dinotopia miniature.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Painting stripes on a bongo

When you're painting in oil, it's possible to lay down light shapes over dark ones while the dark under-layer is still wet. But to do that, you've got to keep the under-layer thin and not too wet.



That's how I painted the white stripes on this bongo. I was lucky that at this antelope at a zoo was resting long enough for me to paint this study (about 45 minutes).

Over a tinted Venetian red priming, I lightly painted the brown body without the stripes. I used a small amount of Liquin as my medium, with white synthetic flat brush for the brushes. I then painted the stripes on top of the wet paint, and they came off the brush without disturbing the layers beneath.

Having slightly wet paint can actually improve the handling of subsequent strokes, and that's why people oil out when they're going back into a dry painting.
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Previously: What is oiling out?