Friday, December 31, 2021

Inside the Dinotopia Pop-Up Book

The Dinotopia Pop-Up book brought to life scenes from the hatchery, a convoy facing off with T. rex, the hanging baskets of Treetown, and the dinosaur olympics, complete with a wonderful wobble-run. 

Paper engineering was by Intervisual, and the art was by Michael Welply, with craftspeople in Bolivia doing all the assembly work.

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Designing the Dinotopia Pop-Up Book

I've always loved pop-up books, so when we decided to make a Dinotopia pop-up book with Waldo Hunt (1920-2009), I was pretty jazzed. Wally was the man responsible for the revival of pop-up books between the 1960s and 1990s, with classics like Haunted House by Jan Pieńkowski.

He sent me a bunch of examples, and taught me about the history of novelty and movable toy books by Lothar Meggendorfer and other pioneers.

To get the ball rolling, I brainstormed a bunch of ideas for "dimensionalizing" Dinotopia in terms of basic pop-up mechanics, such as the stage set, v-fold, box and cylinder, and floating layers. 

Their engineers came back with more fun ideas. Tomorrow I'll show you what we came up with.

Dinotopia Pop-Up Book

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Dinotopia Pop-up Book


Tomorrow I’ll share some of the planning that went into the Dinotopia pop-up book.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

WPAP Style

WPAP is the name of an illustration style characterized by flat, hard-edged shapes in weird colors.

Portrait of Wedha Abdul Rasyid by AdamKhabibi

The style comes from Indonesian artist Wedha Abdul Rasyid, who made portraits in the 1990s of pop artists. WPAP stands for "Wedha's Pop Art Portraits."

Artists use software like Illustrator or specialized apps to translate a photo into the style.

WPAP style is known for bold, flat colors, often in shapes with straight edges. 

The illusion works best when the shapes are of the correct value.

Usually WPAP is painted digitally, but there have been painters with physical pigments doing something similar, such as the painting of sycamore trees above Walter Everett (1880-1946). 

Monday, December 27, 2021

Supply-Chain Blues

The pigment ultramarine blue is running low due to pandemic-related supply chain issues. According to Yahoo News, "One of two main factories in France that supply the pigment for the color stopped making [synthetic ultramarine], and the other, unable to keep up with the resulting demand, restricted international exports."

Titanium white is also affected, leading to shortages in the paint and coatings industry.

The problems are the result of several factors, including Covid shutdowns, the U.S.-China trade war, truck driver shortages, winter storms in Texas, and shipping container disruptions.

Supply Chains and the Coatings Industry

Yahoo news: Now Supply Chain Woes Have Come for the Color Blue

Thanks, Bryn

Sunday, December 26, 2021

High Rider


High rider Ulf Jensen of the sauropod clan rides a Brachiosaurus, from Dinotopia: The World Beneath.

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Joy the Christmas Donkey


The baby donkey "Peanut's Christmas Joy," or just "Joy" for short, was born 12 years ago.

She arrived in the barn stall early Christmas morning, a complete surprise to the farmer Lenny, who said he didn't even know Peanut was pregnant.

He went in to do the morning chores and noticed Peanut was acting funny. There was a dark shape in the corner. At first he thought a dog had gotten in there. He put Joy in a blanket and let her out into the snow and she met all the other donkeys.

Friday, December 24, 2021

First Snow by Various Painters

We had a light snowfall last night, and it reminded me of a few paintings of first snow.

The first snow has fallen. Germashev, Mikhail Markianovich (1867-1930)

Arkady Plastov (Russian, 1893-1972) First Snow

Rowland Hilder (English, 1905-1993) First Snow

Ivan Shishkin (Russian, 1832-1898), First Snow

 View from Olana in the Snow (appx. 1870-1875) by Frederic Church

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Should An Artist Pursue a Single Style?

John Everett Millais, Glen Birnam, 1891

Should an artist try to develop a unique, distinctive style or brand look? Not according to the Victorian painter John Everett Millais (British, 1829-1896). 

John Everett Millais, The Mistletoe Gatherer

In his 1888 essay Thoughts on our Art of Today, he said: "A varied manner must be cultivated. I believe that however admirably he may paint in a certain method, or however perfectly he may render a certain class of subject, the artist should not be content to adhere to a speciality of manner or method. A fine style is good, but it is not everything—it is not absolutely necessary." 

From John Everett Millais Thoughts on our Art of Today 

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

New Magazines in our Online Store

Just posted these magazines in our store

1. American Artist cover feature on James Gurney explores sources of inspiration, strategies of picture-making, with examples of a wide range of oil images, including his landscape paintings, plein-air studies, and Dinotopia art.

2. Smithsonian Magazine cover story from September 1995, published in connection with Dinotopia: The World Beneath. Written by Donald Dale Jackson based on extended interviews, the article delves into the inspiration, the process, and the phenomenon of Dinotopia.

3. Illo Magazine has the most extensive and best illustrated interview with James Gurney. The article is 23 pages long with 25 color illustrations, many reproduced full-page. Wide ranging interview covers many stories from Gurney's early years (including "Fire and Ice" and Thomas Kinkade) together with insights about the development of Dinotopia.

4. Cinefantastique, First edition, (January 1, 2002). Special behind-the-scenes coverage of the Dinotopia miniseries, plus fascinating features on Lilo & S., Men in B. 2, Minority Rep., Spirit / Stallion, and a cover article on the webbed superhero dude.

5. Starlog, a popular science fiction magazine (June 2002 #299), covers Dinotopia with three separate articles: First, a profile of Dinotopia's origins as an illustrated book; second an examination of the miniseries adaptation; and third a portfolio of unused concept art for Dinotopia.

6. Nintendo Power video game magazine with a feature on the Gameboy platform-jumper called Dinotopia: The Timestone Pirates. Includes a gatefold poster painted by James Gurney, 22" x 10.5" that you can leave bound in the magazine or detach and put on the wall.

New products in our web store.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Concept Art for "Missing Link"

Here's a conte and charcoal drawing of Australopithecus at a giraffe kill site in Amboseli, Kenya.

This was concept art for "Missing Link," a 1988 film with special makeup effects by Rick Baker.

Monday, December 20, 2021

Waldmüller's Nature Studies

Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller (Austrian 1793-1865) was fascinated by trees. He had a burning desire to paint them just as they were.

While still in his 20s, he became a professor of art at the Academy in Vienna. Although he had been trained by copying from old masters, he thought that copies from earlier artists shouldn't be the sum total of an art education. 

Instead he had a growing belief that the craft of painting should be founded on the close study of nature. 

According to Wikipedia "his views were in opposition to the official doctrines of ideal art promulgated by the Vienna Academy, and after he had published his works on art education, he was forced to retire in 1857." 

Fortunately toward the end of his life he was invited back into the art establishment of Vienna, and received his knighthood in 1865. 

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Composing with a Keyhole View

Here's a new a YouTube video  based on a gouache painting I did in the old boatyard in Greenport, Long Island.

A little glimpse of the harbor and the far shore is framed by the boat and the buildings. I call this composition a "keyhole view." 

Artists in the past have used keyhole views to lure the viewer's attention back in space. 

This painting inside the farrier's shop has a keyhole view on the doorway at the left. It's by Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller (Austrian, 1793-1865).

Lawrence Alma Tadema (Dutch, 1836-1912) uses a similar compositional strategy.

And there's a keyhole view in this painting by Ilya Repin (Russian, 1844-1930).

Saturday, December 18, 2021

A.I. Animates a Cartoony Drawing

 Do you have kids around? Here's a fun and easy animation project you can do with them. 

1. Have them draw a humanoid character (a head, two arms and two feet). 
2. Go to this link "Animate a cartoony drawing". (It's an AI research project from Facebook / Meta.) 

3. Upload their drawing, following the prompts, and choose a style of action, such as walking, jumping, or dancing. (The artificial intelligence will do the pose and silhouette detection, joint placement, rigging, and animation.) 

4. You can share or download the animation, add music, etc. (I used music by Kevin Macleod from YouTube's free Creator Studio collection. The animation algorithm only lets you download once, so you can use QuickTime to record more.)

Meta's researchers say: "Someday, perhaps, an AI system could take a complex drawing and then instantly create a detailed animated cartoon using multiple fantastical characters interacting with one another and elements from the background. With AR glasses, those stories could even seem to come to life in the real world, dancing or talking with the child who drew it just moments earlier. The possibilities are as limitless as the human imagination."

Friday, December 17, 2021


Therianthropy is the ability to shape-shift between human and animal.

The Kelpie by Herbert Draper

Kelpies are one example. They frequent occur in Celtic folklore, appearing as black horses in the water, but with the ability to change into human form.

Some cave art has also included strange figures that scholars have interpreted as therianthropes. For example, this drawing of a cave painting by Henri Breuil shows what appears to be a human with an antlered head. He suggests it represents a shaman, sorcerer, or magician.

Other famous therianthropes include the selkie, which alternate between seal and human. The movie "The Secret of Roan Inish" is one of many interpretations.

Wikipedia summarizes the standard plotline: "A typical folk-tale is that of a man who steals a female selkie's skin, finds her naked on the sea shore, and compels her to become his wife. But the wife will spend her time in captivity longing for the sea, her true home, and will often be seen gazing longingly at the ocean. She may bear several children by her human husband, but once she discovers her skin, she will immediately return to the sea and abandon the children she loved."

Another famous example is the werewolf (therianthropy), as well as dog-human shapeshifters (cynanthropy).

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Giant Phantom Jellyfish

Here's a rare sighting last month of a giant phantom jellyfish, which has four ribbon-like arms that grow more than 33 feet long.

According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium
"The giant phantom jelly was first collected in 1899. Since then, scientists have only encountered this animal about 100 times. It appears to have a worldwide distribution and has been recorded in all ocean basins except for the Arctic. The challenges of accessing its deep-water habitat contribute to the relative scarcity of sightings for such a large and broadly distributed species."

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Jason and the Argonauts on Lemnos

When adventurer Tim Severin retraced the voyage of Jason and the Argonauts, National Geographic asked me to do some sketches exploring visual possibilities of the story for the magazine.


According to the myth, the Greek island Lemnos was one of the first stops for the Argonauts.The island had been suffering from an unusual problem. Aphrodite was upset with the women of the island for not visiting her shrines, so she cursed them by giving them a foul stench. The husbands began philandering with the slave girls, which led the wives to kill off all of the men, leaving women to fill all the roles hitherto occupied by men.

Wary of attack by their old enemies the Thracians, the women tended cattle and plowed the fields in full battle armor. 

When the Argonauts arrived, they were met by the Lemnian women hastily scrambling in battle mode, but the Argonauts reassured them that they were travelers coming in peace.

These thumbnail sketches are in sanguine and charcoal on tracing paper, just trying out lots of compositions, conscious of not getting too attached to any of them. It was just as well, because we had to cut way back on space for illustrations in the story, and this moment ended up on the cutting room floor.

Monday, December 13, 2021

Book Review: 100 Flying Birds

Artists who paint birds need clear reference photos of various flight positions. 

A new book called 100 Flying Birds: Photographing the Mechanics of Flight delivers a helpful collection of images in a beautiful and useful form.

Author and photographer Peter Cavanagh has documented the flight poses of a variety of species, from swans and geese to hummingbirds to eagles and owls. 

The photos are sharp and clear, reproduced full-page along with the author's commentary on the facing page. The text presents the context of the shot, the mechanics of the flight pose, or insights about behavior or the environment.

That text combined with the photos makes this an unusually welcome resource for birdwatchers or ornithological artists who want a better understanding of their subject.


100 Flying Birds: Photographing the Mechanics of Flight, by Peter Cavanagh, Firefly Books, 320 pages, all color, 11 x 11 inches. 

Mr. Cavanagh curated the exhibition "How Birds Fly" exhibit at Seattle's Museum of Flight in 2015.

Photos by Peter Cavanagh (@howbirdsfly on Twitter).

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Tempera as an Underpainting Medium

In Renaissance painting, artists frequently used egg tempera with a pigment called terre verte (green earth) as an underpainting color for flesh tones.

Michelangelo used it for his altarpiece known as the "Manchester Madonna," which remains unfinished. 

According to Smithsonian:

"Tempera was widely used because of its durable, multi-purpose applications. The paint was not affected by humidity or temperature and could be used to create various transparent and opaque effects. Once dried, its satin luster resembles modern acrylic paints. The yolk-based paint is prepared by mixing colored, powdered pigments with a water-soluble binder—in this case, eggs. Then, the paint is finished off with a few drops of vinegar to prevent cracking once the paint dries. Because the paint dries so fast, artists have to keep adding water as they work. Rather than paper or canvas, tempera works best on solid wooden surfaces where it's less prone to cracking. The color is also found adorning mummy caskets of ancient Egypt, wood panels from the Byzantine." 

Thanks, Susan Menke

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Eden Musée

Eden Musée opened in 1884, and it served up amusements and exhibitions to New York City. In the basement was the Chamber of Horrors. Upstairs was a collection of paintings and a waxwork collection. And there was a theater for viewing motion pictures, magic lantern shows, and marionettes.  

"The intention of the Musee was to create a Temple of Art. It was filled with tableaux of icy solitudes, the burning sun of Africa as well as figures of distinguished persons, rulers, artists and scientists of the time. The Musee stood on 23rd Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues for nearly thirty years before closing its doors for the last time in 1915 - a sign of changing times. The collection from the Musee was then moved to Coney Island before it was completely destroyed in a fire in February 1932."
Online: Eden Musée on Wikipedia

Friday, December 10, 2021

Sophus Jacobsen and Moody Moonlight

Sophus Jacobsen (1833–1912) was a Norwegian-born artist best known for his moody, romantic scenes of moonlight. 

He often painted these scenes with a warm color scheme rather than the blue-green colors we're more familiar with.

Jacobsen's moonlit scenes center on the glow of the moon, with sparkling firelight in the human world.

The outer edges of the composition are softened and darkened, and much of the effect comes from simple silhouettes.

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Repin Exhibition in Paris

A retrospective of artwork of Ilya Repin (1844-1930) called "To paint the Russian soul" (Peindre l'âme russe) is currently on view in Paris.

"Le Petit Palais in Paris presents the first French retrospective dedicated to Ilya Repin, one of the greatest glories of Russian art. Little known in France, his work is nevertheless considered an essential milestone in the history of Russian painting of the 19th and 20th centuries. Around a hundred paintings, on loan from the National Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, the State Russian Museum in Saint Petersburg and the Art Museum of the Ateneum in Helsinki, some of which are very large, will allow us to retrace his journey. through his masterpieces."

The exhibition will be on view through the 23rd of January, 2022.
Book in English: Ilya Repin