This post finds me simultaneously elated and frustrated.
I’m elated because, like many other fans of William Stout’s paleontological illustrations, I’ve been waiting several decades for a suitable follow-up to his terrific 1981 book The Dinosaurs. (There was an expanded update, The New Dinosaurs in 2000, that was welcome, but not the same as a new book.)
A beautiful book of Stout’s Prehistoric Life Murals for the San Diego Museum of Natural History was released last year; but as much as I enjoyed that book, it still wasn’t the follow up to The New Dinosaurs, that I and many others have been hoping for.
The reason for that is that the murals, as striking as they are, are direct paintings, but the illustrations for The New Dinosaurs were in a style that is unusual for paleo art, but at which Stout particularly excels.
Most dinosaur art is either fully painted, or monochromatic pen and ink (there are exceptions, of course, like Douglas Henderson’s wonderful charcoal drawings); but the majority of Stout’s images for The New Dinosaurs were pen and ink with watercolor. This approach has all of the visual charm of Stout’s refined pen and ink work, combined with a beautiful application of color.
Pen and ink with watercolor is an approach that I enjoy in general, but particularly in the case of Stout’s application of it to images of dinosaurs, in which the textures of the animals and their environments are ideal subjects for the style.
(I like this approach so much that I used it, or a digital variation of it, for my own dinosaur illustrations for my dinosaur themed iPhone app; but I’m nowhere near Stout’s degree of mastery.)
The good news is that Flesk Publications, a small publisher that specializes in superbly produced books on art, illustration and comics (and which printed the aforementioned book of Stout’s paleo murals) has released not one but two absolutely beautiful new books of William Stout dinosaur art, Dinosaur Discoveries and New Dinosaur Discoveries A-Z.
The first is the true long-awaited successor to The New Dinosaurs, surpassing it in many ways. Beautifully produced in the tradition Flesk has established, Stout’s prehistoric pen and ink and watercolor marvels just jump off the page. It showcases 61 new dinosaurs that have been discovered in the last 20 years.
The hardback is a limited edition of 500 copies, numbered and signed by the artist with a bound-in plate not published in the subsequent paperback edition.
The second book is a smaller edition in which some of the material from the larger volume has been elegantly arranged into an A-Z children’s dinosaur book. While it shares content with the larger volume, Stout fans will want both, as they present the material differently enough to not seem redundant (plus they’re just so wonderfully designed and printed).
You can read publisher John Fleskes’ account of The Process behind the New Stout Books on his blog.
Though Amazon lists the books as not yet released, all three (New Dinosaur Discoveries A-Z and the hardbound and softbound editions of Dinosaur Discoveries) are available now from the Flesk Publications web site, as well as William Stout’s site.
OK, so why the part about being frustrated when Dinosaur Discoveries is, indeed, the Stout paleo art book I’ve been waiting for all these years?
Well, my frustration centers on my limited ability to point you to images from the books. Neither Flesk or Stout have seen fit to show a gallery of work from the books on the web, though there are a few scattered images you can look at.
I know that both artists and publishers have concerns about images (particularly terrific dinosaur images) being “borrowed” and spread around the web; but if you want to sell these books, you should let people know how great they look (with some detail images, come on)!
Anyway, below is what I can find on the Flesk site; but the best, and largest, images I can point you to (short of the books themselves, of course) are to be found in a download the Flesk Catalog from the right hand column of the Flesk site’s home page (from which I extracted the detail image above, bottom).
In the meanwhile, I’m happily camping out in the comfy chair with a cup of tea and my copy of Dinosaur Discoveries.