Beside a Triassic Pond


Artistic Tricks / RSS 497 Views

The scene is a forest pond, with several croc-like metoposaurids called Koskinonodons basking in the shallows, absorbing the warmth of a patch of sunlight.

Triassic Pond, casein, gouache, and acrylic, James Gurney, 2018
The flora is a mix of cycads, tree ferns, horsetail ferns, ginkgo, and other Triassic plant forms. Meanwhile, a small group of dinosaur precursors emerge tentatively from the shadows, hoping to get a safe drink. 

The giant amphibians usually eat fish, but they'll snatch an unwary dinosaur. Dinosaurs don't rule the world—they live at the margins. 

It's mid-winter as I prepare for this painting, which appears in the current (May, 2018) issue of Scientific American Magazine. There's a foot of snow on the ground, and we're hit with a total electrical blackout that lasts for days. 

But since my methods are mostly old-school, I'm able to sculpt a maquette using Sculpey for the metoposaurid and Model Magic for the bank. I fill a take-out container with muddy water, and set the creature in a basking position. The maquette helps me understand where light turns to shadow and where to place the highlights.
Check out my DVD How I Paint Dinosaurs
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