Michael Skrepnick gets to draw and paint fantastic animals that are as wild and bizarre as anything done by any fantasy or science fiction artist, except that the animals he portrays are real, or at least based on the best information we have about real animals that once walked the Earth.
Paleo artists like Skrepnick work with paleontologists to create images of animals long extinct by extrapolating their appearance from the fossil record and from a knowledge of modern animals that share physiological characteristics with the extinct ones. In the case of dinosaurs, this means birds and members of the crocodile family.
Good paleo artists and paleontologists are painstaking in their efforts to recreate these animals faithfully. The fossils give good information about skeletal structure, from which things like muscle mass, size and weight of an animal can be deduced. There is also some information about skin textures. (For color, however, fossils don’t give a clue.) The closer we get to the reality of what dinosaurs actually looked like, the more one thing becomes clear: these were some weird puppies.
Working in graphite or pen and ink for monochromatic works and in acrylic for paintings, Skrepnick portrays prehistoric animals with a clear, sharp and detailed style that reinforces their connection with the real world and recognizable environments and makes their strangeness even more palpable. His dinosaurs are bathed in sunlight, strongly modeled and connected to the ground and the world around them.
His images have appeared in many museums and scientific institutions and in books from a variety of publishers.
There are two galleries in the site, but the images are frustratingly small – not large enough to get a real feeling for the quality and drama of Skrepnick’s work. Try looking for some of the books he has illustrated.
Some titles are: Great Dinosaur Expeditions and Discoveries: Adventures With the Fossil Hunters (Dinosaur Library) (Thom Holmes, Laurie Holmes), Armored, Plated, and Bone-Headed Dinosaurs: The Ankylosaurs, Stegosaurs, and Pachycephalosaurs (The Dinosaur Library) (Thom Holmes, Laurie Holmes), Triceratops: Mighty Three-Horned Dinosaur (I Like Dinosaurs!) (Enslow Publishers), Sinosauropteryx-Mysterious Feathered Dinosaur (I Like Dinosaurs!) (Michael William Skrepnick), and Mesozoic Vertebrate Life: (Indiana University Press), for which the image of Monolophosaurus jiangi, shown here, is the cover.