Friday, April 14, 2023

'How Did You Get Started?'

Arthur Denison helps a young Giganotosaurus with a stuck foot, 
oil illustration from Dinotopia: The World Beneath.

An editor of Ranger Rick Magazine asked: "Were you crazy about dinosaurs as a kid and did you read every book in the library? Or how did you get interested in this realm?

Me: When I was about six, I saw dinosaur skeletons in a museum, but no one really explained to me that dinosaurs were real animals. I somehow thought that dinosaurs were skeletons. When I learned that people dug these bones out of the ground, I went out in my front yard and started digging with my Tonka trucks. No one could convince me that I wouldn’t find them. I was also interested in archaeology, based on my perusal of old copies of National Geographic that occupied a shelf outside my bedroom door.

Ranger Rick: Did you take lots of art classes as a kid? And then did you go to art school or what's your educational background in the art field?

Me: I had a couple of encouraging art teachers, but most of what I learned was on my own. I set up a copy stand in my bedroom and made animated films in high school. I sketched the family dog and my parents, especially when they were asleep in front of the TV. In college I majored in archaeology, not art. After graduating college, I did go to art school for a short time. I quickly learned that they weren’t teaching what I wanted to learn: things like caricature, animal anatomy, architectural drawing, and storytelling illustration. My heroes were artists who died before I was born, so I searched for copies of old art instruction books from before 1920 or so, and that’s where I developed my way of making pictures.


Bob said...

Arthur surely was brave to help this young (yet quite formidable) Giganotosaurus! This could only happen in Dinotopia.

TommyD said...

Thank you for sharing this short dialogue - good stuff.

Mateus Falk said...

I never know you majored in archaeology, thats amazing.

GABRIEL said...

I always thought to myself: "how lucky was this guy that he got to study art back when they would teach it right, and got to know all of these amazing artists... meanwhile I am here having to walk a lonesome path". I never Imagined that you were in a similar situation that I am in.
Thank you for your teachings, incredible artworks, and years of sharing with young artists incredible artists and techniques that were not given to you when you went to study art.

I hope I am not taking something light and turning it into something cheesy.