Saturday, May 2, 2009

Backyard Posing Party

Creating Dinotopia paintings has often led to strange parties in my backyard.

In the spring of 1991, I invited a whole bunch of friends to pose for a painting of a dinosaur Olympic event called Ring Riders. The painting appeared in Dinotopia: A Land Apart from Time,

Each kid chose which hat or headdress they wanted to wear. I played both actor and director while my wife Jeanette worked the camera.

One mom made a bunch of pastries and handed them out. I used that moment in the final painting.

Using chairs and cushions and cardboard rings as props, the kids took their positions, imagining they were riding on the backs of the dinosaurs. It helped when it I acted it out first, hamming it up a little to try to get them to loosen up.


A group with mismatched costumes and with varying levels of enthusiasm acted out the part of the crowd watching the sporting event. I’m sure they could sympathize with modern actors who have to emote in front of a greenscreen.

This form of group acting works especially well with young people. Chance moments and improvisations can take your conception to another level.
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Related post on using photo reference, link.
Thanks, Nancy, Jake, Aliza, Judy, James, Mike, Joey, Morgan, Justin, Franklin, Jeanette, and everyone else who took part!

11 comments:

Dan Gurney said...

Boy, that looks like it would have been a fun party to attend! I can imagine that your friends got quite a thrill when they saw the fruits of their modeling appear in the book in 1992. It would be quite an pleasure to be able to see that they made some contribution to the creation of "A Land Apart from Time."

Erik Bongers said...

I have the book open in front of me and I find it difficult to estimate the original size of that painting.
Could you help me out?

Frank P. Ordaz said...

I have always liked the light and MOVEMENT that you captured in this painting. I remembered studying it for hours....

great post.....

Andrew Wales said...

Oh, the parties I could have when planning my next comic!

Robin Neudorfer said...

What an exciting time those kids must have had. I only wish my young son, who was a Dinotopia fan, was your neighbor at that time. We spent many nights imagining your world.

Thanks for a backyard view of your process.

Eerie Eric said...

it seems to me when they were filming the dionotopia series show, that would have been an amazing time to do tons and tons of reference photos and sketches. i'm guessing you had tons of people dressind in full costume along with lots and lots of sets. did you take tons of reference photos and sketches?

i'm guessing you would have gotten enough imagery and reference to last you for another 10 diontopia books, haha.

Dakota said...

Jim, I love it!
I loved the pics of the guys at the OMB posing for Saurian Stairway.

sarahfburns said...

what fun!

James Gurney said...

Erik, Ring Riders is about 75 by 100 cm, or about 30 by 40 inches.

Eric, I only visited the set of the Hallmark movie once, on a day when the extras weren't around, but from the stills they sent me, the costumes were spectacular.

lyric said...

awwww - too much fun! Thanks so much for a peek into your process. All of my kids and I thoroughly enjoy your books - so much that they're falling apart at this point. Wouldn't have it any other way.

And I, as an artist, appreciate your blog tremendously.
Thanks for taking the time to do it.

Patrick Waugh said...

My favorite part is the guy with the triceratops puppet.