Saturday 7 June 2008

The Boneyard XXI - Art Class

Welcome to the 21st edition of The Boneyard, here today at The Flying Trilobite! Today we will be looking at scientific illustration, cartoons, and paleo-related concept art.

The Field Trip

Has everyone got their willow-charcoal for sketches? Craig, I assume your laptop has batteries? Today we will begin our paleo-art lesson by venturing into the field. This is, after all, where we receive our inspiration. Make sure to wear sunscreen.

You cannot paint before you understand how to draw, and you cannot run before you can walk. Greg Laden tells us about a recently discovered Arabian dinosaur trackway. Make sure to follow the contours of the footprints with your eyes, dragging your charcoal lightly across the paper.

Trackways can teach more than contours. For those of you studying scientific illustration, remember not to let your eyes trick you into seeing what is not there. Brian at Laelaps has a cautionary tale about seeing evidence for giants instead of fossil sloth tracks. Giantologists reading this, please pursue the link immediately. To see a rendition of a species possibly related to the track-maker, be sure to have a look at master paleo-artist Carl Buell's Paramylodon.

Does everyone remember their elementary school readings from CRAM Science? Good.

Let the science teach you to be creative. Ah, excellent work, Microecos. The recent paper on azhdarchid pterosaurs by Witten & Naish has sparked a comparison from Microecos from pterosaur to current technology.

Sometimes it can be important to understand the scale of creatures from the prehistoric past. This life-sized statue of a stegosaurus - Jacqueline! Get down from there!

Now before we begin presentations, use your #2 HB pencils, and have your say at DinoBase's own David Hone's blog, and fill out this survey about "the state of palaeontology today". Introduction here, issues here, introduction to the survey here, and answers appearing here.

The Presentation
(In many cases, you may click on the artwork on the posts below to see the paleoart in a larger size.)

Let's begin the presentations at the end. Marek Eby of eTrilobite has captured the melancholy of the K-T event. Further back in time, the irascible Walcott is worried in Walcott's Quarry: The End is Nigh! And support paleo-art dinosaur news by visiting the eTrilobite store, and pick-up some happenin' threads.

At Bond's Blog, we have a lucid step-by-step presentation by Peter Bond on rendering a megalosaur, the final version seen at right. Thanks to Peter for allowing me to use the image! The image was created, along with a sauropod and medium theropod for Traumador the Tyrannosaur's post on dinosaurs of New Zealand.

The terror of the ancient seas swoops through Prehistoric Insanity. Craig Dylke struts his digital stuff in the latest peek of his Art of the Unspecified Time Interval. A realistic digital anomalocaris is difficult to pull off, but Craig took it many steps further and has placed it in its natural habitat, with some lovely filters to give it that undersea sense of depth. And be sure to check out Craig's spectacular trilobites, rendered with the scrapes and scratches their little carapaces must have had in life. See them here, here, and here.

Triloblog features the works of Laura Passow using Viking artistic techniques to create amazing specimens of the prolific vanguard of evolution by natural selection. The Bug Factory contains many past posts of the artist's impressive sculptures.

What is it about stegosaurs and car jokes? Charley Parker's Dinosaur Cartoons are not to be missed, complete with lessons!

Jacqueline Rae's Indohyus , published in Nature, appears furtive at the edge of the shore. Be sure to check out the rest of this versatile scientific illustrator's gallery.

N. Tamura's latest, a ferocious Paraphysornis is painted in predatory detail.

Zach of When Pigs Fly Returns continues to illustrate Mesozoic marine predators with an economy of line, making clear the bone structure of askeptosaurus and others from the fossil matrix.

Sometimes, I find paleoart so beautiful, I can't pick a favourite. Scientific Illustrator Emily Damstra paints vivid illustrations of the wonders of the natural world. It was tough to pick one -perhaps this smoothly-blended tornoceras ammonoid?-, so go visit her whole invertebrate gallery.

The Boneyard's groundskeeper Brian featured this interview with scientific illustrator Michael Skrepnick. In addition to providing the banner at Laelaps, Michael's artwork has recently been flung far and wide for his evocative image of the newly discovered "frogamander", gerobatrachus, a transitional fossil between modern frogs and salamanders. However, Lim at Fresh Brainz reckons we've seen another creature related to this ancestral-amphibian.

The Critique
I have a final piece to submit for your criticisms, witticisms and tomatoes.

The past while here at The Flying Trilobite, I've been posting a work-in-progress of a puzzle. The painting is in oil on shale. It is inspired by biologist John Burden Sanderson Haldane's infamous quote, when pressed by a creationist about what Haldane thought could falsify the fossil record. Haldane's reply; "Fossil rabbits in the precambrian."

The piece is finished. Below are the two possible configurations for the 9-piece shale puzzle I have entitled, Haldane's Precambrian Puzzle. Apologies for the weird angle: with the oils still wet it was difficult to photo without picking up a lot of glare.

Haldane's Precambrian Puzzle: False Rabbit Configuration

Haldane's Precambrian Puzzle: True Trilobite Configuration

Comments? Have I made it too ambiguous as to which one is true and which false?
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A thank-you to the suggestions and posts and brilliant work of the scientists who discover all the wondrous things of the past, and the artists who imbue them with wonder. If you're a palaeontologist working on the next big or feathered thing, perhaps you will consider one of the stellar artists above to illustrate a future paper.

I hope you've enjoyed this artsy edition of The Boneyard.

-Glendon Mellow
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All original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow. The contents of this blog are under a Creative Commons Licence. See sidebar for details.


The Key Question said...


However, one of your trilobites looks intact in both configurations - is it a hidden message about finding trilobites in the Cretaceous?

Zach said...

One of the best Boneyards yet, brother! Wonderful to see so much pale-art this time around. And I love your Precambrian rabbit. You could totally sell that as a puzzle, which every evolutionary biologist would buy and proudly hang on their walls. :-) I know I would!

Congrats again, Glendon!

Glendon Mellow said...

Hello Lim!

A trilobite intact in both versions? < / monalisasmile >

Glendon Mellow said...

Thanks Zach!

Looking through past Boneyards, I may have left out some regulars. There are so many talented artists like yourself out there, I tried to stuff it with paleo-art links instead -just this once!

I love reading the posts from the hardcore paleontologists.

traumador said...

Pretty... pictures...

Wish I knew how to draw :(

Good thing there's all these other people out there to do instead of me hehehehehe

Glendon Mellow said...

Can't you hold the pencil in your mouth, Traumador?

Prehistoric Insanity said...

My labtop does have batteries! Sadly these days they only last for an hour without power :(

Awesome theme. That's 2 super fun boneyards in a row. Wish I could think of something equally fun, and than host the next one for 3 in a row!

Okay actually I have an idea. Sadly finally getting some subbing gigs at skools has eaten up a lot of my spare time and energy. So I'm going to hold off on it till I can make a proper go of it...

Me and Peter will probably pressure Traumador to host a boneyard soon (once he gets back from his museum quest)...

Love the puzzle. I personally think the rabit looks out of place when assembled due to ALL the dismembered trilobites scattered about it. Whereas you hardly notice the rabbit due to the trilobites all being together and happy ;p

Glendon Mellow said...

Thanks for the compliments, Craig.

I'd love to see the Boneyard over at Traumador's.

Renee said...

OMG I love it. Them. It.

It's one of those paintings that makes me go "WANT!"

(Is it for sale?)

Glendon Mellow said...

Wow Renee, thanks so much. And from a fellow Ontarian to boot.

I seldom part with originals, other than a few of my DNA Candle paintings I have given as wedding presents.

It means a lot to inspire covetous-ness in people for my art though.

I'm just beginning to explore how to make and sell some reproductions. We'll see what happens over the summer.

If I ever have an actual gallery show, I'll be sure to crow about it here, and on Facebook.

Thanks again.

traumador said...

Hey as you know I'm hosting the next boneyard. Just want to make sure we get as many entries as possible. Especially from people who normally won't put something into the boneyard.

Would you mind a quick shout out to your readers (given your aboue 5 million times more popular a site than me) emploring them to consider even a small post about their museum.


Just voted for you on the Canada blog thing (adding you to my post as we speak) too!

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Posts over 14 days old have their comments held in moderation - I've been getting an unusual amount of spam for a guy who paints trilobites. I'll release it lickety-split though.

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