Happy New Year! May 2017 be kinder to us all. Continue reading
Scarcely had I mentioned how well Sophie the Stegosaurus complemented the presence of the beloved Diplodocus at their respective entrances to London’s Natural History Museum than news of the latter’s planned retirement emerged, apparently splitting the public and experts alike into ‘Team Dippy’ and ‘Team Whale’ across social media.
Of course I’m sad — very sad — to see ‘Dippy’ retire (no, I don’t much care for the name either, but that’s another story). For me as for so many others, it has been the museum’s de facto mascot and symbol for as long as we can remember. And lest our readers forget, sauropods are among my favourite dinosaur groups. My own ‘saurian portrait‘ is a Diplodocus, for heaven’s sake.
‘However, change, or its refusal, is not within our gift.’ I welcome the blue whale with happy, if subdued, acceptance. Of the many voices in its favour, Michael Rundle of Huffington Post UK encapsulates it best for me, not least because he puts forward the case with great respect and affection for both without any of the unnecessary aggression and derision I’ve seen accompany some arguments (‘Dippy is fake! A lie!’). My illustration above attempts to reconcile this change in the same vein. The title of ‘It’s your turn now’ speaks both of the whale skeleton’s place in Dippy’s stead and of the blue whale’s fragile existence being celebrated now. I wanted to avoid that dreaded word, ‘relevance’, much bandied about in this case. Nevertheless, highlighting the blue whale’s significance doesn’t seem to me to signal a disregard for the Diplodocus. But perhaps I’m not cynical enough on that score.
[Cross-posted at Love in the Time of Chasmosaurs.]
Three years later, the resulting set of three illustrations — a race between an Olorotitan and a Tarbosaurus — was finally published in the press release for a study of hadrosaur locomotion by Dr. Phil Currie and Scott Persons, which a few readers may already be familiar with, either independently or via the Chasmosaurs Facebook page. There is also a podcast about the research. Here, for your delectation and privilege (or indeed indifference and ennui, so please you) are the illustrations at a much larger size, which can be opened out in a new tab/window for full-view if you wish. Much of the comic expression in the dinosaurs’ eyes are missed in reduction — something which I hadn’t accounted for when I drew them.
The Aesop analogy subsequently repeated in the article was one which had actually occurred to Scott as a result of my original submission, as quoted in my linked Himmapaanensis post above: ‘…this is a charming twist (and one I had not anticipated). I like it very much!’ I readily confess that my simple little ego was considerably flattered by this.
There is also a story behind the flag-waving Protoceratops, who was originally accompanied by a much more incongruous figure (again, for the sake of this post’s conciseness, please see the first link for this). I don’t know, you’d think I had a penchant for such a thing…
Prints of the illustrations were donated to the silent auction at the Alberta Dinosaur Research Institute fundraising dinner this past weekend. Sean Willett of the Dragon Tongues podcast (whom Marc and I had the great pleasure of meeting and speaking to at the first TetZooCon, and for whom David recently completed a new logo) had very kindly placed a bid on them. He informs me that the prints finally sold for over $100.
Of course, given that it has been three years since their creation, there are several things I would do differently now. So consider this the appropriate disclaimer/apology for any obvious shortcomings. I do know, however, that I would relish more such opportunities for playful pictures accompanying serious research in formal publications. Can we make this A Thing, please?
I haven’t really used fineliners extensively in years as their resolute uniformity of line can be frustrating. But I wanted to try out the new Derwent Graphik Line Makers when they were recommended by my friend and fellow artist, Claudia Hahn. I trust Derwent’s quality — and sepia fineliners are so rare. The line weight issue aside, I really do enjoy these as the ink flows so smoothly. It’s a little like drawing with a fountain pen, but without the flex of the nib (although most modern fountain pens have rigid nibs, too, which is also frustrating, but I digress…). The ink is also pigmented, waterproof, and lightfast.
This has been shared elsewhere before, when it was drawn back in 2012. It has since gained a mild popularity among my palaeo friends and has curiously become one of my best-selling prints. I suppose dinosaur puns are the most enjoyable.
On the subject of prints, I was actually reminded to post this by the fact that two of my friends have each coincidentally bought a tote bag of this design from my Redbubble store around the same time.
Of course, if you would prefer it in a different form, it is also available as prints, cards, and throw pillows…
Sir Henry Norton Manley encounters a Dreadnoughtus schrani. I think she may be dreading him a little.
I’d long known of Bristol board but never used it before. I’ve found that ink ‘beads’ on it, resulting in thicker lines than I might like, but conversely, its glassy smoothness can sometimes be helpful for nibs.
I had hoped to share this a while ago when I had finally completed Darwin‘s companions: Oscar, his pianist, and Wallace, his butler. In the event, his friends turned out to be rather more highly finished than Darwin himself, so I delayed this post on the grounds that I would re-work Darwin first. As I’m unsure when I may get to it, however, and with a mind to keeping this blog ticking over, here it is now.
To read more about who this trio are, please visit my post about them on Love in the Time of Chasmosaurs, where I also go into some geeky detail about my decisions for their depiction.