Dinosaur Discoveries (William Stout)

Dinosaur Discoveries - William Stout
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.


Linda Olafsdottir

Linda Olafsdottir
Linda Olafsdottir was born in Reykjavík, Iceland, studied at the Iceland Academy of the Arts, and then moved to San Francisco to study at the Academy of Art University. She now resides in California.

Her web site has examples of both her illustration and her gallery paintings, as well as a sketchbook section and a blog.

Olafsdottir’s illustrations have an appealing innocence and charm, and range from sketch-like to more naturalistically rendered. Her gallery painting likewise show a range of approach. I found many of the drawings in her sketchbook particularly appealing.

Her blog includes many preliminary sketches for her finished illustrations, and often puts the images in context with the book project for which they were completed.


Nancy Friese

Nancy Friese
Nancy Friese is a painter and printmaker who studied at the Yale University School of Art, the graduate painting program at the University of California, Berkeley and the Art Academy of Cincinnati. She divides her time between Rhode Island and North Dakota and teaches at Rhode Island School of Design.

Her landscape paintings have a bright, almost effervescent feeling of splashes of color, with radiant high-chroma passages contrasted with more subtle hues.

At times her oil paintings have a bit of a feeling of gouache, in areas of color that are perceived as shapes, rather than blended passages or impressionistic dabs.

Her skies are frequently filled with roiling cumulous clouds, glowing with violets and reds. There is often a feeling of motion in her canvasses, not in the sense of depicting objects in motion, but a feeling that the colors themselves are in motion.

The color feels like it is straining against its bounds, as if trying to burst from the canvas, but is securely held in place by her firmly balanced compositions.

One might think from looking at her work that they are studio paintings, but my understanding is that most, if not all, of her canvasses are painted on location; and many of them are large scale.

Her web site has a gallery of oils, as well as a selection of prints and watercolors.

There is a good article about the artist on Painting Perceptions, which is where I encountered her work.


Matteo Pericoli

Matteo Pericoli
Matteo Pericoli is an Italian architect, illustrator and author. His drawings have appeared in numerous publications, including The New Yorker, The New York Times, Travel and Leisure and Conde Nast Traveller.

He is known for his Manhattan Unfurled project, in which he drew two 37 foot (11 meter) long scrolls with detailed skylines of the East and West sides of Manhattan. The drawings took two years and encompassed over 1,500 buildings and 19 bridges.

These were collected into a book, presented as a 24 panel, 22 foot (6.7 meter) long fold-out. You can see a very small scrolling version of them on Pericoli’s web site.

Pericoli also did a 397 foot (121 meter) mural called Skyline of the World for The American Airlines terminal at JFK Airport, depicting an amalgamation of many of the world’s great buildings and skylines.

Pericoli has a new project, also released as a book, The City Out My Window: 63 Views on New York; in which he captures the view, not out of his own window, but out of the windows of notable New York residents, like David Byrne (image above, top), Stephen Colbert, Tom Wolfe, Nora Ephron, Wynton Marsailis, Philip Glass, Annie Leibovitz, Mikail Barishnikov and many others.

Along with his drawings, Pericoli has collected comments from the individuals about their view; many of whom also say that his drawings have caused them to see their familiar view with fresh eyes. There is a pop-up from the link in the title on this page, that shows a few of the drawings and comments.

There is an article and slide show of drawings from the project on the NYT site; and there was a story on Pericoli this morning on the CBS Sunday Morning magazine show.

There is also a selection of other drawings on Pericoli’s web site.


David Wyatt

David Wyatt
David Wyatt is a UK illustrator known for his fantasy themed work.

He has illustrated books by a number of notable authors, including J.R.R. Tolkein, Terry Prachett, Phillip Pullman, Brian Jaques and Diana Wynne Jones.

After a brief bit of comics work on Tharg’s Future Shock for 2000AD, and a stint in a rock band, Wyatt focused on illustration.

He started working in traditional painting and drawing media, moved into digital illustration, and is now returning to occasional work in traditional media.

I was particularly taken with his pen and ink interior illustrations for Phillip Reeve’s Larklight series (images above, bottom). His intricate style is well suited to the “steampunk” settings of an alternate universe in which space travel is taking place in the Victorian era.

The pen and ink style carries over from his illustrations for The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings.

Unfortunately, Wyatt’s web site is a bit awkwardly arranged. There are sections listed at the bottom of the home page graphic, as well as a “current portfolio”, each of which must be entered separately, and browsing is made more difficult by uncooperative JavaScript thumbnail sliders.

Images in the current portfolio are a bit larger than the others, so you may want to start there. It includes work from his latest book project, Peter Pan in Scarlet by Geraldine McCaughrean.

[Addendum: Wyatt has moved his website to: www.davidwyattillustration.com and his blog to: http://davidwyattillustration.wordpress.com and also still maintains a gallery on deviantART.]

[Via Eric Orchard]


Sandra Allen

Sandra Allen
Sandra Allen draws highly detailed and carefully rendered images of individual trees. Her charcoal and pencil drawings are large scale, often 6 feet (1.8meters) in height or more.

Allen received a BFA from UMass Dartmouth School of Art and an MFA from Yale University School of Art; and is represented in the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, The Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University and the Yale University Art Gallery, among others.

In 2001 she started her series of tree drawings which she likens to “portraits”. They are represented without their foliage, and she revels in their structure as revealed by shadows of the forms overlapping other forms.

Her work is currently on exhibit at the New Britain Museum of American Art until January 24, 2010.