I don’t usually post two full images by the same artist, but in this case I was fascinated to find out that an artist I thought I was familiar with is, in effect, two artists.
Many people are familiar with James Gurney as the artist/creator of Dinotopia, a series of lavishly illustrated fantasy books about a “Land Out of Time” in which humans and intelligent dinosaurs co-exist amid fantastic neo-classical cities and spectacular landscapes. The stories were made into a rather lackluster TV mini-series from Hallmark Entertainment. The books, however, are delightful. I think the designs for the cities and landscapes in Gurney’s Dinotopia paintings were a large but uncredited inspiration for the cities and palaces of Naboo in Star Wars Episode I. I think Gurney, in turn, was influenced by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema (see my previous post) and other 19th century academic painters.
What I was surprised to learn about Gurney, and didn’t know until I Googled him for this post, is that he is also an accomplished plein-air landscape painter working in the tradition, and general location, of the Hudson River School. His Hudson Valley landscapes and town scenes are open, painterly and full of light. In addition to the landscapes, his professional site includes some of his non-Dinotopia fantasy and magazine illustration.
I give links to both his Dinotopia and professional sites below, but the images on the Dinotopia site are unfortunately too small to get the real flavor of the illustrations. Here are some larger Dinotopia images linked from the Artcyclopedia. Of course, the best way to see any artist’s work is in person. There is an exhibition of Gurney’s Dinotopia art opening at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Connecticut on February 18th.