Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Vulnerable T.Rex

This painting appears in Dinotopia: Journey to Chandara, but it was originally created for Discover Magazine to accompany a story on the vulnerable side of the Tyrannosaurus.

We often see this animal as a ruthless and invincible predator, but in fact its numbers were already declining due to climate changes around 70 million BP, when this scene is set, five million years before the asteroid impact. I chose a moment when the T. rex is drinking water from a receding water hole. He is accompanied by two juveniles, a herd of Triceratops in the distance, a softshell turtle, and various other creatures that are found together with T.rex in the Hell Creek Formation in what is now Montana.

I drew inspiration for the cracking mud and dead trees from a pond in the forest behind my home. The palmetto and cypress came from location studies in Florida.

My consultant was Jack Horner of the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, Montana, here in his museum with skeletons of baby Maiasaura (photo by Tobey Sanford). Horner proposed the provocative idea that the T. rex may have been a scavenger as well as--or instead of--an active predator.
At his suggestion, I gave the creature a reddish face, similar to the faces of vultures and many other scavengers.

This painting was recently accepted into the Focus on Nature X exhibition of natural history artwork. It will appear at the New York State Museum in Spring of 2008.

7 comments:

Carlos Pérsico said...

Wow that's an extraoirdaire piece, I lov ethe atmosphere and illumination.

A question, what's this piece's size?
And what's the normal painting size's / paper.

Just curious I'm trying to find a paper wich kind texture for both charcoal and gouache/oils.

Thank you for your time and daily posting Mr. Gurney.

K_tigress said...

Wow Jack Horner cool.
That really must have been something.

Yep I always pictured the T rex having behaviour like that as well. Sort of like the lions of the savannah.

james gurney said...

Carlos, this painting 10 by 25 inches, painted in oil on heavyweight illustration board. Esto es el tamano tipico, muy pequeno.

I first draw the scene on the board in pencil, then seal it with Workable Fixative, then paint a thin layer of Acrylic Matte Medium. The oils are applied over that layer.

Stephen James. said...

You know there's a part of me that's totally resistant to the idea of T-Rex being a scavanger. I mean I grew up with a dinosaur who was the undisputed "King of the tyrant lizards." How could an animal with such a tough sounding Latin translation be an oversized vulture? Why would it have an estimated top speed of 50 mph? My views have become less extreme though. T-Rex was probably like most predators today perfectly capable of hunting when it needed to, but not stupid enough to turn down a dead carcass that was just lying there.

P.S Those Triceritops sure don't look like they think she's a scavanger. They're in the classic defense formation that we always imagine them in.

P.S Have any paleontologist asked you to put their portraits in the book? A friend of mine informed me that Lyell (Old Earth Theory) makes an apperance in the first book, cleaning some Dinosaur's foot.

Frank-Joseph said...

A few months ago, my dad called me up, "Frank, you're never going to believe who I met on the plane. Jack Horner"

My parents live in Three Forks, Montana where my father is a veterinary pathologist and virologist. His concentration is on sea life, and spends a significant amount of time traveling to other countries. It was on some such flight home, he got to chat with Dr Horner.

Dr Horner proposed that my father join him in researching dinosaur diseases. HOW COOL IS THAT???

Frank-Joseph said...

And on a related note, the Maiasaura has always been my favorite dino. Thought you might be interested in seeing a maquette I'd been working on:

http://frank-joseph.blogspot.com/2006/01/ducky.html

Rick said...

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