#MikeTaylorAwesomeDinoArt at TetZooCon 2018

October 11, 2018

The afternoon of Day 1 at TetZooCon 2018 was split into two parallel streams: downstairs, some talks that I would have loved to see; and upstairs, a palaeoart workshop that I was even keener not to miss out on.

There were talks by Luis Rey (on how palaeoart has had to be dragged kicking and screaming into accepting feathers and bright colours) and by Mark Witton (on the future of palaeoart — sadly, bereft of slides). Both fascinating.

But better still was the wide-ranging informal discussion between Luis, Mark, John Conway, Bob Nicholls and others on what palaeoart is actually all about. For Luis, it’s basically fun; for Mark, it’s primarily science communication; for John, it’s art first, and palaeontology only because that’s what he happens to be depicting; and for Bob, as well as all those things, it’s crucially important as a job of work, satisfying the requirements of those who commission that work. Obviously that’s a huge over-simplification: all of them have all these aspects going on in varying proportions. But that’s how I read it.

At the same time that all this was going on, we — maybe 60 or 70 of us? — were encouraged to create our own art, either attempting styles that are different to what we usually do, are using materials we’re not so familiar with. For the many excellent artists in the group, this challenge must have been interestingly novel. For non-artists like myself, it was just a chance to play.

I took the opportunity to try my hand with charcoal, in the hope of getting some suggestive or even impressionistic textures. Here’s my first work — an indeterminate brachiosaur with an inexplicably big head.

Aside from the head — I can’t do heads! — I’m reasonably happy with that. I got a decent sense of bulk in the torso, anyway.

Encouraged, I made a start on a second piece: a BRONTOSMASH!ing apatosaur that didn’t come out so well.

I’m happy with the forelimbs here, but something is dreadfully wrong with the torso and I can’t put a finger on what it is. If I’d had more time, I’d have put in the second hindlimb, which might have helped me figure out what was going wrong. The other thing I fluffed here was that I should have made the neck even fatter and more robust. Oh, and of course the head. I might return to this and see if I can sort out, if I can find some charcoal.

Anyway, it was a fascinating experience. And it’s left me with a new favourite art medium.

 

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8 Responses to “#MikeTaylorAwesomeDinoArt at TetZooCon 2018”

  1. Zachary Miller Says:

    That’s actually a really cool idea–art with a different medium. I might have to try that.

  2. Brad Lichtenstein Says:

    Before I try to put my own finger on it, I’ll say both pieces are better than anything I’ve even tried with dinosaurs. But you implied a rhetorical Q, and I love answering rhetorical Q’s… my first impression was, it looks like the neck of the second is an extension of the ventral portion of the torso, instead of the dorsal, which is usually where the spinal column runs. My second impression was, the shoulders are maybe correct for the neck but also look way low on compared to the torso – but I’m not a tetrapod anatomist, so I’m not sure how they really transferred forces to the spine. But I thought cows’ shoulders were

  3. Brad Lichtenstein Says:

    Oops, that posted while I was switching windows to do an image search on “cow”. Their elbows seem to be above the ventral line, and the humerus seems to go most of the way to the spine. Maybe cows are not a good comparison, but I was thinking those arms look a LOT like hadrosaur arms in my very limited experience.

    Again, your experience and artistry are better here than mine.

  4. Mike Taylor Says:

    Interesting thoughts, Brad, thanks for chipping in. I think you’re onto something with the sense that the neck seems to emerge from the ventral part of the torso; but although that’s a legitimate criticism, I don’t think it’s the one I’m looking for. To me, something is wrong about the shape of the torso itself.

  5. Leo Sham Says:

    Maybe it’s not wrong, but looks a bit antigue. I remember seeing these kinds of diplodocid torsos when I was young – in those CR Knight’s paintings and the old TIME books IIRC.

  6. Mike Taylor Says:

    “Not wrong, but resembling old images that are wrong” feels like rather a tenuous distinction :-)

  7. Dean Says:

    Your torso woes (at least to me) are due to the rounded and tapering rear-end. It should probably be kinking up or at least horizontal into the base of the tail.

  8. Mike Taylor Says:

    Hmm, I think you might have it!


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