Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Mud Trap

A couple of months ago, Scientific American magazine asked me to illustrate a feature for the upcoming March issue about an amazing discovery: a group of small dinosaurs who died together, trapped in mud.




When I delivered the oil painting of the scene (above), I also produced a short video showing how I did the painting.


Yesterday Scientific American put the video up on their official website, along with a blog post describing my analog process of making the maquette—you know, pencil, clay, glue, and paint. The cracking "mud" in the foreground of the maquette above is flour and water baked in the wood stove and painted with acrylic.

If it wasn’t below freezing outside, I would have been out in the real pond muck wallowing around to see what it feels like to die in quicksand.
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Direct link to video
Scientific American blog post
More from Scientific American about the new dinosaur discovery by Paul Sereno.

20 comments:

Mark Heng said...

You make it look so easy! Great vid, looking forward to seeing the rest.

bartdeco said...

James, thanks for the video - quite educational. The links to Scientific American are broken, though. I had to remove the blogger portion for it to work.

I am also saddened to hear that you've turned to clay. It must make getting around quite difficult. I hope you recover soon.

bart

Mathias said...

Great! And so teachful. Thanks for this video.

James Gurney said...

Thanks, everybody, and I appreciate the heads-up about the broken links. Hopefully they're working now.

Rayford said...

That's the coolest thing I've ever seen! Beautiful work as always!

Jared Shear said...

Very cool James.....but you leave me wanting more!

Is it not time yet for an instructional video series?? I know I would pay.

David Glenn said...

Really good painting.

Marc McCabe said...

Thats great! thanks for sharing, I cant get enough of these insight videos :)

Drew said...

Fantastic little video. I always love seeing the watercolor and marker comps.

I noticed you used a skybox with the maquette this time - what benefit did that serve? I've seen model railroad builders use skyboxes to add some realism to their displays, but I'm not seeing the benefit for it.

I suspect it's to create the reflected light color you can get from a sky, but that's the only guess I've got.

Dave Lebow said...

Great to see your process once again. All the preparatory work that you put into the picture really pays off in your final oil painting.
Thanks for this video.

Kat said...

Fantastic video! Would love to see more of those. (Greedy, I guess.)

little BIG Pet Portraits said...

Amazing illustration! You are able to really capture the drama.

Gary said...

Red Rover, Red Rover, let Ornithomimus come over!

Deborah Paris said...

Very cool!

mike r. baker said...

"I made a model, then I painted this, then that, then finished another masterpiece, then I read War and Peace, built a robot, went paragliding, and then it was time for lunch." Yes, yes, why anyone could do it! Okay, fantastic, really.

Charley Parker said...

Wonderful! You should expand on this, (and then do lots more of them - in your "spare time" - grin).

Christian said...

Wonderful video!! It's brilliant! Is there a chance that you'll make a picture album out of all the scientific illustration you did for e.G. the Scientific American or Ranger Rick one day?? It would be great seeing all of your palaeontological artwork gathered in an album.
(Instructional videos on your process would be a brilliant plan as well!!)

Adrien Bernard-Reymond said...

Great!! I watch = I learn
I would really, I mean really really love a video about a painting from the very beginning, (client phone call), to the very end of the work.
with you explaining what's in your mind, drawing sketches, preparing your canvas and the whole painting process and technique (paint, mediums, brushes, etc). I think it would be a full circle along with Imaginative Realism and Color and Light.
Like Jared Shear said in his comment: I know I would pay!
Can't wait for tomorrow video!
Thanks!

ibisbill said...

Why are you wearing a thick wool hat inside your studio? Did your furnace conk out?

James Gurney said...

Ibis Bill--Both the furnace and the hair conked out.

Thanks, everybody for the interest in an instructional video. You can probably guess that I'm experimenting with video techniques, and I'm planning to produce one myself, with coverage that a visiting video crew could never get. I want it to be really interesting, not just for the first watching, but for the 20th.

Drew, I didn't know the blue-sky background was called a "skybox." I just did it to make the photo of the maquette look better. It may have also reflected a bit of light into the shadow.