Sunday, June 26, 2022

Skimmers in Poseidos

Skimmers are floating vehicles based on the design of trilobites and other Cambrian and Permian arthropods.

I originally produced this small painting as a concept for a virtual-reality ride simulator. Note the riders seen through the windscreen of the main vehicle.

I included the artwork in the book First Flight, which is set in Poseidos, the high tech capital of ancient Dinotopia. In this spun-off sub-universe, people and dinosaurs challenge a dystopian society of drones, surveillance, and AI-powered robots, all of which have become increasingly relevant in the 23 years since the book came out.
(Link for signed copies)

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Dinotopia and Smithsonian

Dinotopia and Smithonian have a long history together. Here's some trivia:

• A paleontologist from the National Museum of Natural History, Dr. Michael Brett-Surman, was an early scientific consultant on the project. He and other Smithsonian colleagues dressed up in Dinotopian costumes and came on stage to answer questions after a lecture I gave in Washington. They knew the answer to every question the kids had.

• In September 1995, Dinotopia was featured on the cover of the Smithsonian magazine, together with a behind-the-scenes article. (There are signed copies in my online store.)

• In 2002, the National Museum of Natural History hosted an exhibition of original art from the books.

• The exhibition also included Arthur Denison's original journal of the lost world, complete with chain, lock, and writing in the footprint alphabet, stamped into what appeared to be its saurian leather cover.

Friday, June 24, 2022

How They Made Prehistoric Planet

This behind-the-scenes mini documentary (link to YouTube) shows how they made the nature documentary called Prehistoric Planet, which recreates the structure and movement of dinosaurs in strikingly believable ways.

To match the photo-real look of a David Attenborough narrated nature documentary, they consulted with scientists, extrapolated from modern birds and other animals, and used the latest digital tools.

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Watkins Glen Study

The stream at the head of Watkins Glen in New York flows over fine-grained Devonian layers of sedimentary rock. 

Watkins Glen, Oil, 8x10"

When the layers were uplifted, they cracked through with joints that make straight sided, almost rectangular pools.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Mountain Stream

Here's another painting that started with a panel primed with a red or pink color. You can see that color in the shallows and in the little spaces left over between strokes.

Mountain Stream, oil on red-primed panel, 8x10" 

More on red priming in my new YouTube video.

Monday, June 20, 2022

Art of the Backdrop

 CBS produced this lively overview of the art of Hollywood painted backdrops, or "backings," as they're known in the business. (Link to YouTube)

Sunday, June 19, 2022

The Magic of Red Priming

I often prime the surface with a tint of an iron red before heading out to paint in opaque gouache, acrylic, or oil.

Red priming gets mostly covered up by opaques, but it gives a zesty contrast to the greens and blues.

Full video on YouTube


Saturday, June 18, 2022

Painting Over Red Priming

Red is the complement (or opposite) of green, so if you're using opaque paint to capture a scene with a lot green, a reddish or warm pinkish priming can activate your greenery and sky color like a spicy dash of hot sauce.

I demonstrate with a plein-air painting of a Kenworth cement mixer parked near the supermarket. Smooth stays cool in the shade, and my artist-pal Jim Mushett stops by to say hello.

Friday, June 17, 2022

Astronaut Sketch


Astronaut at the hatch door, oil on board.

This was a small, unused concept sketch for a science fiction paperback cover called "Steps of the Sun" by Walter Tevis, 1985. 

Summary of the book's plot from Ebay: "In a world where America’s power is rapidly being overshadowed by China’s, only one man has the wealth, resources, and courage to seek the mineral resources his country needs to reclaim its greatness. Ben Belson, the richest man in the world, lacks for nothing his wealth can buy -- but he is haunted by the memory of a barren and loveless childhood. When he travels to the stars in search of the mineral wealth America needs, he finds more than he bargains for -- and gets more than he ever believed was possible."

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Shin-Hanga Movement

During the late 19th and early 20th century, the exchange of artistic ideas between Europe and Japan went both ways. 

Hikari umi (Glittering Sea), by Hiroshi Yoshida (1926)

Japanese artists who produced the ukiyo-e prints were inspired by the subjects and styles of European impressionism, (which itself used ideas from ukiyo-e).

According to the Clark Art Institute, artists in the Shin-Hanga Movement were working in "an intense period of modernization and Westernization, and many shin-hanga artists appealed to consumers by creating works that evoked nostalgia for a premodern Japan."

YouTuber David Bull has produced some videos demonstrating the process.