Dinotopia: The Fantastical Art of James Gurney



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Walk The Dinosaur
Curated by Norman Rockwell Museum, "Dinotopia: The Fantastical Art of James Gurney," was on view at the Museum from February 18 through May 21, 2006. Showcasing the work of the renowned fantasy artist and creator of the Dinotopia book series, the exhibition is now traveling as part of Norman Rockwell Museum's successful traveling exhibition series: http://www.nrm.org/category/traveling-exhibitions/

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The Man Behind Dinotopia
Illustrator James Gurney was born on June 14, 1958, in Glendale, California. The artist's youthful daydreams inspired an interest in archaeology and lost civilizations; he recalls many hours spent excavating his suburban backyard for arrowheads and “even a lost temple.” During college he majored in anthropology at the University of California at Berkeley, where he received a B.A. in 1979 with Phi Beta Kappa honors.

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The Art of Exploration
In 1983, James Gurney took his portfolio to the offices of "National Geographic," to see about applying for a job as a staff artist- the magazine subsequently invited him to illustrate an article on the explorer Alexander Humboldt. This assignment was soon followed by many others, including illustrations on the legends of Jason and Ulysses, the civilizations of Kush in Nubia, Etruscans in Italy, and Moche in Peru. Each assignment was a stimulating chance to work with experts to recreate a world that could never be photographed.

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Have Art Will Travel
While attending art school, James Gurney embarked on a cross-country trip with fellow artist/friend Thomas Kinkade, sketching the countryside as they traveled along (often by railroad box cars). The finished sketches led to a book that the friends published called "The Artist's Guide to Sketching," (Watson-Guptill, 1982). The success of the book resulted in the two artists being called to work for the movie industry, painting background scenes for Ralph Bakshi and Frank Frazetta's 1983 animated film "Fire and Ice."

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Creating a New Lost World
James Gurney introduced Dinotopia in a series of illustrated books beginning in 1992, based on the journals of explorer Arthur Denison, who was shipwrecked on the island in 1862. His first book, the New York Times bestseller "Dinotopia: A Land Apart From Time," appeared in 18 languages in more than 30 countries and sold two million copies. Gurney has also written and illustrated "Dinotopia: The World Beneath" (1995), "Dinotopia: First Flight" (1999), and "Dinotopia: Journey To Chandara" "(2007).

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Gurney's Journey
Learn more about James Gurney's artistic process, and more of the artist's observations, on his daily blog: http://gurneyjourney.blogspot.com/ -- Photo of James Gurney in the studio (with friends). Courtesy of James Gurney. All rights reserved.

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Getting In On The Act
Much like Norman Rockwell, James Gurney uses his neighbors and friends as models for the characters found in his illustrations. A session will frequently require the models to don a variety of fanciful outfits and strike unique poses, which the artist often photographs for further reference. During a recent interview with WAMC Radio, Gurney recalled one such model who posed for an illustration he was working on of a neanderthal man- after the work was completed, the artist expressed to his model the hope that he did not offend him; the model replied no, quite to the contrary...

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Imaginative Realism
James Gurney has recently released the book "Imaginative Realism: How to Paint What Doesn't Exist" (Andrews McMeel Publishing). As the title suggests, the book features the artist's insight into the history of imaginative painting; helpful suggestions on materials, procedures, and exercises; tips on composition; and potential careers for artists.

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Birds of a Feather
James Gurney's pet budgie Mr. Kooks is a lively and constant companion for the artist during his many solitary hours at the art table, however during the shoot for this exhibition video, Kooks suddenly came down with a case of stage fright; the once animated chirping which is the bird's trademark ceased once all cameras were focused on him. The producer for the video solved the problem by editing in sounds he had previously recorded of Mr. Kooks during a different stage of filming- hence, movie magic! View more of Mr. Kooks right-hand, er...

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The Artist and His Work
Check out the Norman Rockwell Museum traveling exhibition "Dinotopia: The Fantastical Art of James Gurney" during the national tour; the exhibition will be on view at Delaware Art Museum through May 16, 2010: http://www.delart.org/exhibitions/dinotopia.html The exhibition will then be on view at The Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, Florida, from June 5 through September 5, 2010. Keep up to date on the exhibition here: http://www.nrm.org/2009/09/dinotopia-the-fantastical-art-of-james-gurney/

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Norman Rockwell Museum's traveling exhibition "Dinotopia: The Fantastical Art of James Gurney" takes a look at the fantasy illustrator's work for his acclaimed book series Dinotopia. This exhibition video goes inside the artist's studio for an in-depth look at his artistic process. Mr. Gurney's new how-to book "Imaginative Realism: How to Paint What Doesn't Exist" is out now, and the artist will be giving an exclusive art workshop based on the book at Norman Rockwell Museum on Saturday, March 13, from 1 to 4 p.m.

Visit Norman Rockwell Museum's Web site: http://www.nrm.org

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