Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Action Figures in Action

A couple of action figures glued to the saddle of a homemade Deinocheirus filled the bill for helping imagine an olympic event in Dinotopia.

I also built a maquette of the pagodas, made from wire, dowel rods, and tissue paper. I discarded the paper pagodas after the photo shoot, but by then they had served their purpose.

Here's the finished painting, which is currently on exhibit, along with the dinosaur maquette (and the little action figures) at the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, through Jan. 2.

In addition, the show of children's book art has two original paintings from Norman Rockwell's "Willie Was Different," original art by Tasha Tudor, and more. 
 The Berkshire Museum's Festival of Trees through January 2
 This process is documented in Imaginative Realism: A Guide for the Realist Painter. (Available at Amazon, or signed at the Dinotopia Store)
Previously: Backyard Posing Party


Shane White said...

It would be helpful if you could break down the amount of time it takes to put an illustration together.
Possibly breaking it down into categories like:

Searching for reference
Building maquettes/props/etc.
Shooting models
Color roughs
Final drawing/drawing transfer
Finished Painting

Realistically I find that impatience undermines my efforts at different stages.

Especially when I can't find the right reference, or I find a problem in the final drawing and can't decide if I should go back to reworking the composition or fix it on the canvas.

Momentum and pacing can be a huge deal. It's a lot easier when you have a realistic view of the finish line. Granted we all work differently but a guidepost would certainly help.


James Gurney said...

Good questions. I usually spend a third of the allotted time planning (such as making thumbnails, reference, maquettes), a third drawing, and a third painting. This breakdown is true whether I have six hours, six days, or six months.

The painting goes faster with the planning steps done. Sometimes those first four steps you've outlined happen in a matter of hours.

And sometimes because of impatience, overconfidence, lack of time, or just plain pigheadedness, I do skip some steps, but it shows in the final piece.

Tom Hart said...

I love seeing the details of your process, James. It's amazing, but completely understandable that you put so much time into the planning and model making stages.

I can't sign off with giving a shout out to the locale of the show. I was born and raised in Pittsfield - the heart of the lovely Berkshires, and my father was proud to be a guard at the Berkshire Museum in his post-retirement years.

Unknown said...

I'm sure I'm not the first person to tell you this, but you could make such awesome toys or collectible art sculptures from casts of your work. Maybe not with the maquettes if cotton doesn't mold well, but sculpy or something.

Unknown said...

Hello UK students!!!!
Register before Jan 15thand get 1000 pounds student aid.


goat89 said...

Steve McVey, a world class miniature painter, just released this sculpt to the miniature world:
So yeah, I could totally see this in a Dinotopia miniature world ><

soutchay said...

Great post James! I just finished experimenting with a dragon maquette. I painted gesso over a foil skeleton instead of my usual clay layer. It's really rough and far from being exactly like my drawing but it provides me with information that I would not have imagined. Sometimes I get impatient with the preliminary steps but from my experience it truly does help the painting move faster. There is always room for spontaneity as well. Everyone, figuring it out in the beginning is well worth the effort. Don't forget to have fun in the process! Thanks James!

My Pen Name said...

James, and all GJ readers;
Just hijacking this thread to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, and thanks James and all posters, for their insights!


James Gurney said...

Thanks, Pen Name, and I second your sentiments. All the posters and commentators have deepened my appreciation and understanding of all kinds of topics. Hope you all have a great holiday season.

Michael Dooney said...

I just checked the Bershiire museum site and don't see a 'children's book' exhibit listed...is it part of the Holiday Tree thing?

James Gurney said...

Yes, the Berkshire Museum doesn't have anything on their website, and I haven't been there myself, but by all accounts, it's set up there.

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