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Gurney Journey

This daily weblog by Dinotopia creator James Gurney is for illustrators, plein-air painters, sketchers, comic artists, animators, art students, and writers. You'll find practical studio tips, insights into the making of the Dinotopia books, and first-hand reports from art schools and museums.

gurneyjourney.blogspot.com

Gurney Museum Exhibition in Philadelphia

Gurney Museum Exhibition in Philadelphia
A new exhibition of my original art has just opened at the museum of the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. The Art of James Gurney includes more than 25 oil paintings from the Dinotopia books, as well as natural science illustrations, preliminary sketches, and maquettes. 

Gurney Museum Exhibition in Philadelphia
One of the featured images is "Waterfall City: Afternoon Light" from Dinotopia: Journey to Chandara. This is the only image that overlaps from the Delaware Art Museum exhibition a few years ago; the rest are all different.

The Art of James Gurney will be on view at the The Richard C. von Hess Gallery of Illustration at 333 S. Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA through November 16.

In connection with the exhibition, I'll be doing a public presentation on Thursday, October 29 at 1:00 pm at Levitt Auditorium, with a reception following.

Skybax Car

Skybax Car
I've always had a fondness for exuberantly painted cars. Here's one in Ohio that features Will Denison from Dinotopia: Journey to Chandara painted on the hood.


In case you couldn't make it out, here's the painting it's based on.

Skybax Car
I love the wiggly yellow line against the blue and black stripes and the gradation from red to orange. Nice job!

Thanks, Azonthus.
Previously: Fan Fun, Waterfall City mosaic, and Dinotopia in Lego

Dinotopia at the Children's House

Dinotopia at the Children's House

Dr. Jo Ann Leggett, director of the Children’s House preschool of Victoria, Texas recently completed a Dinotopia-themed project for the school’s summer program, and she sent some photos to share.

Dinotopia at the Children's House
Dr. Jo says: "Children delighted in all the books," and they learned about geography from the Dinotopia map.

Dinotopia at the Children's House
They tried "plank walking," a Dinotopia game that I introduced in "Journey to Chandara."

Dinotopia at the Children's House
To succeed at plank walking, everyone has to pull the ropes and lift their feet together as a team.

Dinotopia at the Children's House
"Dinotopia is our 'most-looked-forward-to' unit at the school. Thank you for your inspiration," says Dr. Jo.

Thank YOU, Dr. Jo! If you're a teacher of any age group and would like to spotlight Dinotopia at your school, please write me a letter. I’ll be happy to send you a list of suggested games, projects, and activities, and I'll include a signed card to help you get the ball rolling.

Previously:
Dinosaurs Invade Millburn High School
Science, Art, and Fantasy (Elementary School)

Horses, Dinosaurs, and Turnip Carts


The draft horses at the farm have their full winter coats, and I'm hoping Lenny will be hitching them up soon to pull the sleigh. 

Horses, Dinosaurs, and Turnip Carts

Watching the draft horses working in harness always impresses me.  The horses have to respond to so many voice commands. Each horse has to recognize whether Lenny is talking to both of them, or just one of them. And they have to know the commands for forward, back, stop, right, left, and step sideways right and step sideways left. 

Horses, Dinosaurs, and Turnip Carts
The experience of seeing how a driver communicates with draft horses inspired me when I painted this image of a Triceratops pulling a turnip cart. You'll note that there are no reins; the driver (and Bix) are using voice signals entirely to communicate with the Triceratops. The painting originally appeared in Dinotopia: Journey to Chandara and later in Imaginative Realism. 

You can own this original painting. It is currently available for sale at the Daniel Maghen Gallery in Paris.

Previous posts on GurneyJourney:
Spokewheeling (compositional principle using this painting)
Ground Driving (me walking behind two of the Belgians)

Thanks, Damian

Chandaran Scientific Instruments

Part of the fun of fantasy worldbuilding is dreaming up plausible artifacts. 

In Dinotopia's eastern capital of Chandara, the imperial academy includes an assortment of scientific instruments, which Arthur Denison records in detail in his journal.
Chandaran Scientific Instruments
An orrery, which models the movement of the earth and moon around the sun. The base is a turtle, inspired by the World Turtle mytheme.
Chandaran Scientific Instruments
an astrolabe, which measures star positions to aid in navigation;  
Chandaran Scientific Instruments
a cylindrical music player like the Edison phonograph with an ammonite horn...
Chandaran Scientific Instruments
and a clockwork world map which demonstrates the movement of floating continents. 
Chandaran Scientific Instruments
Here's what Denison's journal looks like, where these drawings were recorded. This is built from cast latex, brass, and copper over a real antique book. I made it as a display prop for a Dinotopia art exhibition at the Smithsonian.
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Order a signed copy of Dinotopia: Journey to Chandara (2007)

Worldbuilding with Maps


Concept artist Lorin Wood has launched a new group blog called "Nuthin' but Worlds," about concept art and worldbuilding, an offshoot of his successful "Nuthin' but Mech" blog and books. I'm a contributor, and here is what I contributed for my first post:

For me, making a map is the best stimulant for building worlds and telling stories.

But there are many kinds of maps. Here are a few types I've developed for Dinotopia.

Worldbuilding with Maps
Physical geography map, with emphasis on landform relief. Painted in oil on board.

Worldbuilding with Maps
Seafloor relief, shown in perspective, with the island lifted up to show the caves. Inspired by the 1960s seafloor renderings by Tibor Toth for National Geographic.

Worldbuilding with Maps
Expedition route map. I developed a rough version of this along with the story outline. The final is in oil, about the size of a postcard. The seafloor texture is drybrushed over white board, a fast way to work.

Worldbuilding with Maps
Another route map showing a close-up section of the eastern coastline. The locator map at upper left places the detail map in context.

Worldbuilding with Maps
Antique maps are more convincing if they're made with antique tools. This one is made with a dip pen and brown ink on smooth watercolor board. The watercolor washes around the coast were laid down first when it was in pencil stage.

Worldbuilding with Maps
Here's a close-up of the map above to show the graded hatching of the mountain reliefs, typical of engraved maps of the 17th, 18th, and early 19th centuries. Traveler's maps were often folded, so I  abraded some fold lines into the surface.

Worldbuilding with Maps
Here's a hand-drawn and hand-lettered city map drawn in ink, with a flourished title block and a "rubber stamp" suggesting its provenance in a museum collection. The lettering is not on an overlay, so I couldn't make mistakes. This is from Dinotopia: Journey to Chandara.

Worldbuilding with Maps
City map of Chandara, showing organic street grid and canals. All sorts of street perspectives can be plotted from a master map like this.

Worldbuilding with Maps
Here's a close-up of the same city in Dinotopia. This is called a building plan, where the buildings are sliced away a little above the ground. Walls are lines and columns are dots. Note the fancy illustrated title block, an exuberant touch that expresses something about the confidence of the city.

Worldbuilding with Maps
I love computer tools, but at the same time I also love the risk and commitment required by dip pens, circle templates, triangles, ruling pens, ships curves, and parallel rules. I used them because I thought they would give the final result a more authentic flavor.

All of these maps have been exhibited in museum shows of Dinotopia artwork. Because they are hand-drawn and hand-painted physical objects, they take on a tangible presence, and they become valuable touchstones in the history and life of an intellectual property.

Dinotopia painting, step by step

Here is an animated step-by-step sequence of a painting from Dinotopia: Journey to Chandara (2007). The painting shows a retired musical conductor named Cornelius Mazurka and his Therizinosaurus Henriette (left) surrounded by old musical instruments, with Arthur Denison and the Protoceratops Bix on the right.

Dinotopia step by step -- slower photo Dinotopiastepbystepslower.gif
(Direct link to animated gif) This way of painting involves doing a careful pencil drawing on illustration board, sealing it with acrylic matte medium, laying in transparent color, and then proceeding to the finished rendering, area by area, beginning with the center of interest.

Dinotopia painting, step by step
EDIT: to answer Tom's suggestion, I've made the animation a lot slower. And Ben, I have added above the preliminary pencil thumbnail showing how I worked out the basic tonal design before getting models and shooting reference. In this case I didn't do a full charcoal preliminary, just this quick (but very helpful) tonal study.
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The original painting "Old Conductor" is currently on exhibit at NHIA in Manchester, New Hampshire through March 13.
Thanks to Stapleton Kearns and Lines and Colors for reviewing that exhibit.
Journey to Chandara signed from my web store and from Amazon
More about technique in my book Imaginative Realism 

Dinotopia: Art, Science, and Imagination



(Video link) Here's a video that tells the story of the making of Dinotopia, created for the 20th anniversary edition and the Lyman Allyn exhibition.

The exhibition called "Dinotopia: Art, Science, and Imagination" ends February 2 at the Lyman Allyn Art Museum in New London, Connecticut. The show has more than 100 objects: original oil paintings, preliminary sketches, maquettes, and dinosaur fossils.

There's more good news. Another Dinotopia exhibition called "Dinotopia: The Fantastical Art of James Gurney" will have a short run from Wednesday, February 20 through Wednesday, March 13, 2013 at the New Hampshire Institute of Art in Manchester. That show will include Dinosaur Parade, Garden of Hope, Dinosaur Boulevard and many other classic images.
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The four Dinotopia books mentioned:
Dinotopia: A Land Apart from Time, 1992
Dinotopia: The World Beneath, 1995
Dinotopia: First Flight, 1999
Dinotopia: Journey to Chandara, 2007


Drowning a Dinosaur

I know: the photographic evidence seems to implicate me. It looks like I’m drowning a dinosaur.

Drowning a Dinosaur
But really I just want to know what an ceratopsian would look like in shoulder-deep water. 

Drowning a Dinosaur
It was just one of many references I used to create this scene from Dinotopia: Journey to Chandara.
The book is available signed from me or from Amazon.com.


Three-Legged Soccer

Here’s a painting that didn’t make it into Dinotopia: Journey to Chandara.

Three-Legged Soccer
It’s a game of “Three Legged Soccer.” You tie one of your legs to the leg of an ornithomimid dinosaur. Getting off a kick means pretty close cooperation with your partner.
This one ended up on the cutting room floor for two reasons. First, there just wasn’t enough space. Also, unlike the other games that I show in the book, Trio Tag, Plank Walking, and Tuggle, I didn’t actually have a chance to try this game out with human models, so I wasn’t completely sure of the dynamics and the practicality. You can sense the lack of conviction in the weakness of the drawing. 
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MORE
Get a copy of Dinotopia: Journey to Chandara signed
Previously on GurneyJourney
Tuggle and Plank Walking
Gurney Museum Exhibition in PhiladelphiaSkybax CarDinotopia at the Children's HouseHorses, Dinosaurs, and Turnip CartsChandaran Scientific InstrumentsWorldbuilding with MapsDinotopia painting, step by stepDinotopia: Art, Science, and ImaginationDrowning a Dinosaur Three-Legged Soccer

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