Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Sneak Peek: James Gurney
at The Lyman Allyn Museum, Connecticut

Light on the Water

On September 22nd, a brand new exhibition of artwork from James Gurney's imaginary world of Dinotopia will go on view at The Lyman Allyn Museum in New London, Connecticut.  Unlike Gurney's recent exhibition, The Fantastical Art of James Gurney, which was exhibited at the Norton Museum of Art in Florida and at The Delaware Art Museum, Dinotopia:  Art, Science, and Imagination will include a special selection of the preliminary work Gurney utilized in the making of his popular and successful Dinotopia book series.  This is an opportunity to see "behind the curtain," and learn how this fantasy wizard creates his beloved images.  Along with Gurney's sketches, maquettes, photo reference, and plein-air studies, there will be actual dinosaur specimens on display through a loan from the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History.  This exhibition, with 135 works, is by far, the largest and most comprehensive show of Gurney's original artwork to date.

Dinotopia:  Art, Science, and Imagination opens September 22, 2012, and will run through February 2, 2013.  Several programs have been organized to coincide with the show, including a presentation and book signing by Gurney on October 13th.  For more information on the exhibit, gallery hours, special events, and directions, please visit The Lyman Allyn Museum website.

Flight Past the Falls

Song in the Garden

The fa├žade of The Lyman Allyn Museum in New London, Connecticut

Market Square

Perspective Line Drawing of Chandara

Chandara Maquette

Dinosaur Parade

Saurian Steps

Field of Flowers


Gurney in his studio.

"My studio is a cluttered mess of 3D reference materials and works in progress. It’s a cross between a toy shop,
a creature FX lab, and a wacky curio cabinet." ~  James Gurney

1. On the slanting drawing table is an oil painting of a Gryposaurus for the National Wildlife Federation.

2. Beside the painting are the references Gurney used: photos of the dinosaur skull, sketches in colored pencils,
and photos of the maquette. The reference maquette of the Gryposaurus is sculpted from polymer clay and
painted in acrylic, held by a C-stand. 

3. Behind the maquette is a color wheel with a triangular gamut window to define the color scheme. 

4. The palette uses poly-coated freezer paper on a sloping surface of the taboret. On the palette is a series
of four premixed strings of oil color used in the painting. Palette cups hold an alkyd medium called
Liquin and a solvent called Gamsol.

5. On the sloping display rail are several hand painted color charts, color wheels, and optical illusions that
are part of Gurney's book, Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter.

6. Color storyboard for Dinotopia: The World Beneath.

7. Twenty-minute oil studies of models painted during figure drawing class.

8. Painting of sleeping dinosaur called Mei long. This is the cover image for Color and Light.

9. Brushes include bristle filberts, nylon flats, and sable watercolor rounds.

10. Maquette of dinosaur rider. Figure is made of chunks of wood and wire.

11. Reference maquette of Arthur Denison, used for reference in the Dinotopia books.

12. Maquette of the satyr Pan, made during the creature design class Gurney offered a few summers ago,
where students worked from a live goat, a human model, and three ram skulls.

13. Maquette of elf alien used for the cover of Imaginative Realism: How to Paint What Doesn’t Exist.

14. Sculpture of fossil crocodile “BoarCroc” used for reference for a painting I did for Ranger Rick magazine.

15. Maquette for lepidopter featured in the poster art for the 2009 Utopiales Festival in Nantes, France.

16. Headphones. My favorite music is Bach, Mozart, Brahms, and unusual stuff like tuva throat music and
sound effects.

17. Teapot that Gurney picked up in Morocco in November 2008.

18. Pen holders and points for a dip pen.

19. Human skull that serves for reference and as a memento mori. Behind that are some architectural

20. Playground for Gurney's budgie, Mr. Kooks, who keeps him company as he works.

21. View out north window. Gurney's studio is part of his house in the Hudson Valley of New York State.
The light comes from a north window and a four foot square overhead skylight.

22. Various plaster casts used for drawing reference. Gurney sawed the head off the standing ecorche because
he didn’t like the way it was sculpted.


At Home

Closing the Book

Timestone Pirates


Florante Paghari-on said...

Fantastic works by James Gurney and the studio picture is truly amazing especially the 100% on top of the wall.

Patricia Bennett said...

Awesome, thanks for posting this. I came across '
/Dinotopia the other day, and was like "What the heck is this???" I don't even know how we got the book. The paintings are exquisitely done, and each one has dinosaurs and people in it. I've never seen anything like it. Norman Rockwell with dinosaurs. Brilliant.

Kristy Gordon said...

Very interesting to read a bit about his process! Sounds like it will be a great show!

Ledeaux said...

Do see the show if you can. We saw his work on exhibit in Wisconsin this past spring. The quality of the paintings so surpasses what you see in the books. The 20th anniversary edition colors are - sadly - a bit murkier than the original book and don't do justice to the paintings themselves.