The new May issue of Ranger Rick magazine has an article on baby dinosaurs that I illustrated. One of the paintings shows an adult Parasaurolophus grazing amid water lilies, while several juveniles hunt insects nearby.
I started with a pencil underdrawing on illustration board. I sealed the drawing with acrylic matte medium and then applied oil paint. I chose effects of light and color that would make the painting match up with the look of the wildlife photography that comprises most of the magazine.
The idea evolved from a variety of sketches that I did after reading the book Eggs, Nests, and Baby Dinosaurs: A Look at Dinosaur Reproduction by paleontologist Kenneth Carpenter, director of the USU Eastern Prehistoric Museum. I also read several books about how crocodiles and birds raise their young. The purpose of the sketches is to try a lot of ideas and not get attached to any of them, but rather to use them as a stimulus for expert feedback.
The magazine's editors reviewed the sketches, as did Dr. Carpenter himself. He cautioned me against showing dinosaur young in the nest, pointing out that large-bodied dinosaurs brooding on eggs would crush them, and reminding me that for most dinosaurs, there's not that much conclusive proof of altricial (helpless or dependent) behavior among dinosaur young.
He said, "The parental care business is on shaky ground. Yes, there are oviraptorid skeletons that appear to be surrounded by eggs, but that cannot be translated into ALL dinosaurs as has been done....I do not think it co-incidental that groups of baby dinosaurs are NOT found with adults (except when faked). To me, that does not argue for babies remaining in a nest with parents lovingly bringing food, but rather babies on their own."
Read the article online or pick up a copy at the newsstand.