Olduvai George (Carl Buell)

Carl Buell
Olduvai George is a blog title and online identity for natural history illustrator Carl Buell. (The name is a play on Olduvai Gorge, a large ravine in Tanzania where some of the earliest human remains have been found.)

Buell has a passionate fascination with animals, living and extinct, although his work has him most often illustrating animals that lived in the last 65 million years (after the disappearance of the dinosaurs). His robust, colorful illustration style uses texture and color relationships to give the animals a real sense of physical presence.

He works in both traditional media and digital painting, working primarily in Photoshop for the latter. You’ll also find work in acrylic posted on the site (image above). Here is his step-by-step walk through of his digital illustration of a mammoth, and a more abbreviated look at the drawings for a color image of a bird.

The links that say “Click here for a larger, more detailed image” link to Buell’s Photostream on Flickr. While it’s nice to be able to leaf through the images that way, and I think there are a few on Flickr not on the blog, the images are disappointingly not much (or any) bigger then the images on the blog. They’re good sized on the blog postings, I would just enjoy seeing more of the details because the images seem rich in detail and texture.

There are both color and black and white illustrations posted on the site. Some of the black and white ones are preparatory drawings for color pieces, some are finished (and nicely rendered) black and white illustrations.

Check out this wonderful black and white landscape, inspired in part by Ansel Adams’ photographic techniques.

Link via John Nack on Adobe and Drawn!.

[Addendum: As of June, 2010 — Buell seems to have abandoned the Olduvai George blog, it’s gone. He has a largely incomplete website that appears to be in the early stages of construction, I don’t know how current it is. In the meanwhile, his Flickr account looks like it’s been updated recently.]


9 Replies to “Olduvai George (Carl Buell)”

  1. We’re so delighted to find you and see your drawing of Kerianne here! We’ve moved to Sedona, AZ and started looking you up because last we knew you were in Flagstaff. Looks like your dream has come true–that’s so cool! We’d love to be in touch.

    Rosine and Rick Okie

  2. Hello, I’m probably way out in left field but everything Carl had on the web has closed up shop: Flickr, website, Facebook…gone. I don’t know him personally, just admired his work on Facebook and he actually responded! That was almost like seeing Jerry Lewis in person. I asked another person I stumbled up, Colin Purrington, and he was surprised as well. People do just decide the web is overwhelming and close up shop but I was just curious if you had heard anything? Just sticking my nose in, I guess.

    Take care,
    Bill Milhoan

  3. Bill,

    I’ve heard from sources that Carl is doing well, but has chosen not to have an internet presence for the time being. Hopefully, we may see him back online before long. If I hear news in that regard, I’ll try to make notice of it here. I certainly think his work deserves to be seen and his contribution to scientific art recognized.

  4. Hey there, as of now all of Olduvai George’s links lead to 404 pages. It seems he’s entirely gone from the internet except as art with his name in the reference (I was led here by the Siberian Unicorn portrait from a 5-month old BBC News article).

  5. I have an original drawing of elephants that Carl gifted me in the early 90s when he lived in Mammoth Lakes, CA. It is a drawing of 12 elephants, each representing a different stage of an elephant’s life. He knew that I like and collect elephants and said that If I promised to give it a good home, he wanted to give it to me. I have it hanging over my desk and I see it every day.

    I am trying to find out if this is the same Carl Buell that this blog is written about. He told me that the image was to be used as a mural for the Denver Zoo.

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