Michael Rothman

Michael Rothman, natural science illustrator
Michael Rothman is a natural science illustrator who appears to specialize in complex scenes of plants and animals in their natural environment. His subjects include both extant and extinct species.

Rothman has a superb ability to render highly detailed compositions — with multiple focal points of individual plants and animals — in a way that is both clear and naturalistic.

Some of his paintings are so naturalistic that they have the feeling of nicely painted landscapes that just happen to be intimate in scale. I particularly admire his representation of textures; many of his images feel highly tactile.

Rothman’s online profile mentions that he works both in traditional and digital media, but the individual images in the galleries on his website don’t have an indication of medium.

There is also a selection of his images on Science-Art.com.

Rothman’s clients include publications like The New York Times, Scientific American and The New Yorker, publishers like Random House, Wiliam Morrow and Harper/Collins, and a number of museums, zoos and other institutions.

Some of his book credits as illustrator include: Here Is the Tropical Rain Forest (Web of Life), At Home with the Gopher Tortoise: The Story of a Keystone Species, The Forest in the Clouds and Jaguar in the Rain Forest (Amazon links).

 
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Gurney Journey at 10

James Gurney's Gurney Journey art blog at 10
Congratulations to James Gurney for 10 years of authoring his superb blog, Gurney Journey.

What started as a modest intention to chronicle his travels on a book tour — in a way mirroring the journaled adventures of the character Authur Denison in Gurney’s popular illustrated adventure series, Dinotopia — has grown over time into not only a superb blog among art blogs, but one of the most in-depth and useful sources of art information and instruction on the web.

Gurney has been unstintingly generous in sharing his experience as an illustrator, author, plein air painter, instructor, model maker, videographer, and restless experimenter and investigator of artistic topics.

Over the course of time his posts on painting techniques, equipment, paints, color theory, drawing, and related topics have been turned into instructional books, YouTube videos, and most recently, a series of full-length instruction art videos.

Gurney has been a proponent of misunderstood and often overlooked painting mediums like gouache and casein, and Gurney Journey remains one of the definitive sources on the web for information and instruction in their use.

Long time readers of Lines and Colors will know I’ve long enjoyed Gurney Journey and recommended it often, along with Gurney’s other projects.

For those who may be new to Gurney Journey, I will recommend that you take a look at the post he did in 2016 on the landmark of 4,000 posts. In it he links to a quick overview of some of the most prominent topics. You can also explore using the list of topics in the blog’s left column, or the search feature at the upper left of all pages.

If you take the plunge, I will issue my Timesink Warning, and point out that I fell down that rabbit hole myself for a couple of hours while preparing this post, bookmarking along the way numerous articles I had forgotten about for future reference.

 
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Sean Murtha

Sean Murtha, birds, nature art, plein air landscape painting
Connecticut based artist Sean Murtha brings his experience and sensibilities as a plein air landscape painter to his naturalist paintings of birds, imbuing them with a sense of being part of their environment — a feeling sometimes lacking in wildlife painting where too often the landscape is simply a backdrop for the animal subject.

Ironically, Murtha knows something about providing backgrounds for naturalist subjects from his role in painting murals and diorama backgrounds for museums like the American Museum of Natural History in NY, and the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT.

His work as an illustrator extends to paleo art and other natural history subjects. His affinity for both dinosaurs and birds is unsurprising, as birds are essentially the living branch of the dinosaur family tree. To all of his subjects, Murtha brings a knowledge of the light, color and textures of the natural world gleaned from the practice of plein air painting.

I particularly enjoy the way many of his studies of birds are almost indistinguishable from landscape paintings, in which birds — however accurately observed — just happen to be part of the landscape.

Murtha grew up on Long Island near Long Island Sound, and now lives in Connecticut, where he views the sound from the other side. Many of his paintings reflect the sound and its changing character in the light of different seasons and weather.

His sensitivity to atmosphere and its effect on light gives his paintings a refined sense of color, contributing to the immediacy and immersive feeling of the natural world that he evokes.

In addition to his regular gallery representation (linked below), Murtha’s work will be on display at the mark Gruber Gallery in New Paltz, NY, in a group exhibit titled “Birds and Art” that runs until May 23, 2015.

[Suggestion courtesy of Tess Kissinger of Walters & Kissinger Paleo Art (see my post on their recent book, Discovering Dinosaurs)]

 
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Dinotopia: The Fantastical Art of James Gurney at Stamford Museum

Dinotopia: The Fantastical Art of James Gurney at Stamford Museum
James Gurney has become widely known for his instructional books and videos as well as his role as a plein air painter, lecturer and popular blogger, but it was his series of fantastic Dinotopia adventure picture books that originally attracted the most notice — in the art community, the paleo art community and among the dedicated readers who came to love the books.

In the Dinotopia series, Gurney brings to bear his study of classical artists and techniques — and in particular, late 19th century academic art — to create a world in which dinosaurs and humans co-exist amid architectural and natural splendor.

Dinotopia: The Fantastical Art of James Gurney is an exhibit of over 50 original paintings from the series, along with maquettes, models and related material, currently on display at the Stamford Museum and Nature Center in Stamford, CT.

You can read a post from Gurney’s blog about the exhibit, which runs until May 25, 2015.

Gurney points out that this exhibit is completely different from the one that was at the Lyman Allyn Art Museum in CT a few years ago, but I think it is similar in scope and contents to the Dinotopia exhibits at the New Hampshire Institute of Art in 2013, and the one I had the pleasure of seeing at the Delaware Art Museum in 2010. If so, I can vouch for it as a terrific show, one of broader interest than you might think. Gurney’s influences and technique transcend the genres of paleo and fantasy art, and encompass classical art in many ways.

As far as I know, there isn’t a gallery of works specifically from the exhibition, but you can see Dinotopia art in general on the Dinotopia website, James Gurney’s website, and his blog, Gurney Journey.

 
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Discovering Dinosaurs, Walters & Kissinger

Discovering Dinosaurs, huge new dinosaur book by Bob Walters and Tess Kissinger
There is something particularly fascinating about dinosaurs and dinosaur art. Here are the dragons and monsters of myth and story, but actually real — science with all the dazzle and mystery of fantasy.

Those of us who remember a fascination with dinosaurs as children, whether or not we have been fortunate enough to keep it as adults, will recognize particular dinosaur books as “Wow!” books.

These are the kind of dinosaur books that are so spectacular they make kids’ eyes bug out of their heads and cause them to produce involuntary exclamations like “Woah!” and “Cool!” as they grip the book, nose to the pages, in absolute fascination.

Discovering Dinosaurs, a new dinosaur book by the highly regarded paleo art team of Bob Walters and Tess Kssinger, is one of those books — a dinosaur “Wow!” book.

The book is huge — physically big in size at over 10 x 13 inches, hugely entertaining and hugely informative. It’s loaded with information on over 160 fascinating and bizarre dinosaurs, arranged by period and family, with page after page of striking images, lots of two page spreads and three huge triple-page fold out banners.

Publisher Cider Mill Press has done an amazing job. The book design is beautiful and well thought out, and the book is rich with wonderful details, from the dinosaur-pattern end papers, to the foldouts, to the cover — which is, well, cool. The images I’ve been able to provide here don’t convey it, but the scales on the cover are actually physical bumps. Pick up the book and you can feel the scale texture on the front and back covers. In addition, the eyes and horns of the dinosaur, along with the title text, are glossy with spot-varnish, lending even more punch to the image. Somehow, they managed to price this thing, all 140+ pages of it, at $25.00.

One of the things I particularly like about Walters’ work, which I’ve written about previously, is that I know he is one of the relatively small percentage of paleo artists who makes a point of working with paleontologists who are also anatomists (which many paleontologists are not). Despite the dramatic appeal of his striking and detailed renderings, they are mercifully free of paleo-fantasy like enormous sauropods standing on their hind legs, or multi-ton tyrannosaurs running at a gallop. (These things are fine in fantasy art, but not appropriate for books that are supposed to be scientifically accurate.)

In addition to holding fast to scientific accuracy, the book is very up to date, with lots of the latest dinosaur discoveries and information. Game of Thrones author Geroge R.R. Martin gave Discovering Dinosaurs a nice plug in his blog.

The big, immersive pages and images, succinctly informative text and fun touches make Discovering Dinosaurs the kind of dinosaur book that would have had 12 year old me curled up on the couch for hours, learning my brains out and involuntarily exclaiming “Woah!” and “Cool!”

You can see more on the Discovering Dinosaurs website.

Discovering Dinosaurs can be ordered from Amazon and other online booksellers, or, if you’re fortunate enough to have one, from your local independent bookstore.

 
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Niroot Puttapipat (himmapaan)

Niroot Puttapipat (himmapaan), illustration and paleo art
Niroot Puttapipat is a London-based illustrator who uses the handle “Himmapaan”.

His work shows his admiration for Golden Age illustrators like Arthur Rackham, Howard Pyle and Edmund Dulac, as well as natural history and paleontological greats like Charles R. Knight.

Puttapipat works with a nice balance between detailed rendering and graphic shapes, particular in his series of illustrations for classics like Aladdin, and modern novels like Salman Rushdie’s Luka and the Fire of Life (images above, second and third from bottom).

He has provided illustration for a number of recent editions of classics. There is a list of publications here, and a listing of books for which he has done illustrations on Amazon.

As continuing Lines and Colors readers will not find surprising, I particularly enjoy his fanciful takes on dinosaurs and related subjects. Sometimes Puttapipat’s fondness for classic literature and paleontological art collide, as in his hilarious and wonderful “Brontesausus” (above, bottom).

[Via Wil Freeborn, (my post here)]

 
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