James Gurney

Dinotopia - James Gurney
Dinotopia - James Gurney
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.

 
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Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema

Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema
Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema was a 19th century painter in the Academic style. He was born in the Netherlands and moved to England, where he was eventually knighted. He painted luxuriously beautiful scenes of romanticized classical civilizations and medieval France.

Often disparaged as a painter of “mere eye-candy”, and completely disrespected by the modern art establishment, he is finally regaining some of the attention he once commanded. If, like me, you remove the “mere” from that phrase, you can appreciate his work as eye candy indeed. His excellent draughtsmanship, attention to detail, lush color and masterful handling of the textures of clothing, skin, tapestries, stone and above all, marble, make his work a tasty visual treat.

The link here is to the Alma-Tadema galleries on the amazing Art Renewal Center site, which I wrote about back in August. The ARC also includes an extensive biography. The best thing, though, is that they provide wonderful high-resolution images of his paintings, so you can get a nice big handful of that yummy eye-candy. There are also some excellent books of his work.

 
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Mark Fiore

Mark Fiore
Mark Fiore certainly wasn’t the first to post animated political cartoons to the web, but he is probably the best known of the cartoonists who specialize in animated political commentary. While many animated editorial cartoons are a single panel with animated bits, Fiore actually does 30-45 second animations. He works in Flash and uses sound effects, pop-up banners and starburst announcements that feel like they come from 50’s television ads.

Though he’ll take a good swing at anyone he thinks is acting stupidly or irresponsibly, Fiore’s political bias is unabashedly to the left. If you like the Bush Administration, you’ll probably find Fiore offensive. On the other hand, if you find the Bush Administration offensive, you’ll probably like Fiore.

 
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Todd Lockwood

Todd Lockwood
The pencil drawing shown here, depicting Cerberus, the three-headed dog that guarded the gate to Hades in Greek Myth, is one of the most striking images I’ve seen in the whole of science fiction and fantasy art. Take a look at the detail images.

Science fiction and fantasy artist Todd Lockwood works both traditionally in oils and digitally in Corel Painter. His fantastic, sometimes phantasmagoric, images have been appearing in magazines and on book covers for over 20 years. He has been a staff artist for TSR and a longtime creator of art for Dungeons and Dragons.

His site is an exception among artist’s online gallery sites: it’s well-organized and very easy to use. ( It was created by Lockwood and Mac Web Guru M. Douglas Wray.)

There is a promise of forthcoming tutorials, but they’re not up yet. However the FAQ page includes some detailed comments on his materials and methods for pencil drawing, oil painting and digital painting. There are prints available of many of the works.

 
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Jake Parker

Jake ParkerJake Parker (no relation to yours truly) is an illustrator and comic book artist living in New York. He as done conceptual art and illustrations for companies like Disney, Warner Brothers and Wizards of the Coast. He has also done a number of comic stories, including contributions to Flight VOL1 and VOL 2. The “Comics” page of his site lists several comics described as “For the web only” but doesn’t link to them or give any indication of where they might be posted.

The “Sketches” section of the site, in addition to featuring the sketches you would expect, also contains links to two tutorials that go through his process from rough sketch to finish. To my eye, his work shows influences from European comics artists like Moebius, anime directors like Hayao Miyazaki and to a lesser extent, American super-hero comics.

 
 
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Puppetfilm (Darkstrider.net)

Puppetfilm
In spite of all of the recent interest in stop-motion animation, notably Wallace & Grommit, Tim Butron’s animations, the original King Kong and, of course, the grand-master Ray Harryhausen, most people, myself included, have been unaware of an entire genre of stop-motion from Eastern Europe called Puppetfilm. Puppetfilm doesn’t refer to puppets in the Jim Hensen/Howdy Doody sense, but to the miniature figures used in the painstaking stop-motion animation process.

Mike Brent, an amateur independent animator from Illinois, has created a site devoted to the appreciation of this remarkable branch of animation. His site contains a good introduction to the genre and its masters and features a fascinating gallery of clips. (Shown above, clockwise from top left: Jiri Trnka, Noro Drziak, Jiri Barta, Jan Bubenicek.) The eastern European sensibility is strongly evident. The animated images are dark, surreal, intricate and vividly imagined.

The site also contains links, resources and information about the artform and related topics, as well as some of Brent’s own work, which is, of course, very influenced by his love for these films.

 
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