The Palaeo-Environment Project

I have started the rather ambitious (but overdue) task of trying to recreate a prehistoric environment in my computer.

This effort is still in its infancy, but please pop over to my post and let me know what you think thus far.

I also throw this question out to you, what are the key elements and steps you would to take to recreate an ancient palaeo-environment?

So stay tuned as more updates on this rather large project will be coming your way...

Two girls at the beach, Portugal, 1930

Click image for 897 x 1284 size. Ilustração, No. 112, August 16 1930.

Great Britain stamp: King George VI coronation, 1937

"c. 1937, in honor of the coronation of King George VI at Westminster Abbey on May 12th, 1937

designed by Edmund Dulac, based on portrait photography by Dorothy Wilding

rejected designs and sketches by Eric Gill"

Ask a Biologist

Here's my first AAB entry. Wrote about it at my blog. Feedback wanted!


The artist Pavel Korin centered his life around one grand ambition: to paint a masterpiece about the impact of the Russian Revolution.

Preliminary study for "Farewell to Rus"
 Korin worked for 42 years in preparation for his painting, developing sub-themes, experimenting with  various compositions and painting detailed sketches.  He researched the science of art conservation to make sure his masterpiece would last for centuries without restoration.  He ordered an immense canvas specially made and installed it on custom built stretchers.  Then he died before he could apply his first brush stroke.

Korin's blank canvas, with preliminary studies
A tough break, but at least fate was more generous to Korin than it was to poor Masaccio, one of the most promising painters of the Renaissance. Vasari described Masaccio as "the best painter of his generation," but after he began work on his famed frescoes at the Branacci Chapel, Massaccio took a side trip to Rome and died unexpectedly at age 26.  He never had a chance to finish his work, and the laurels went to Michelangelo and Raphael instead. 

Many an artist has fallen short of his or her potential by miscalculating how much time they have left to complete their "best" work.  So you have to admire the audacity of artists who gamble on creating one epic work, rather than a lifetime of smaller pieces.  They leave themselves no margin of error; it's all or nothing.

Of course, even if an artist calculates his or her allotted time accurately, they still get no guarantees.  Alexander Ivanov was another artist who built his career around one major painting (The Appearance of Christ Before The People).  Ivanov was called "the master of one work."  He succeeded in completing his painting after twenty years,  but unfortunately the painting turned out to be second rate.  And who could forget artist Bill Pappas who worked methodically for ten years, from 1993 to 2003, on a single pencil drawing of Marilyn Monroe?  Pappas drew every pore on her face in excruciating detail, using 20x magnification lenses.  When he fhnished his picture on schedule, Pappas had demonstrated a great talent for precision, but little else.

The muse, it turns out, is not always flattered by good time management skills.

Many an artist produces lesser work in order to pay the rent, secretly planning to redeem themselves later.  This requires them to gamble on notoriously fickle actuarial tables. Still, it is impossible to have children and remain insensitive to some of the excellent reasons for compromise.

As philosopher Walter Kaufmann suggested,
One lives better when one expects to die, say, at forty, when one says to oneself long before one is twenty: whatever I may be able to accomplish I should be able to do by then; and what I have not done by then I am unlikely to do ever.  One cannot count on living until one is forty-- or thirty-- but it makes for a better life if one has a rendezvous with death. 

Click image for 530 x 1064 size. Ilustração, No. 112, August 16 1930.

Sunbathing in Portugal, 1930

Click image for 1069 x 568 size. Ilustração, No. 112, August 16 1930.

Sunbathers in Portugal, 1930

Click image for 1067 x 539 size. Ilustração, No. 112, August 16 1930.

Summer Gallery poll is up!

With the many new and exciting changes occurring here on ART Evolved (if you look closely amongst this week's posts you might notice a few of them :P) we thought it'd be a good time to figure out what gallery will follow our upcoming Hadrosaur gallery.

As this next, yet to be determined, gallery will fall in the summer we thought the topic should be a little more optional so you might decide to spend some of your holiday time making a piece for our show.

You'll notice how you have a choice between several different time periods and/or palaeo-environments. Anything that would fit within the winning topic's general description is a go.

So have fun picking a general topic that gives you the freedom to do a piece while not quite feeling like a chore ;)

ps- or for our Southern Hemisphere friends this will be a nice way to kill those short unfun winter days... At least I hope it will help. I personally will be down that way myself around then!

Martha Mansfield

Martha Mansfield , originally uploaded by ondiraiduveau.

Pink Dinosaur #249 - The Lost Elias

Pink Dino by Felipe Elias

Felipe sent us this beautiful specimen last October, during the Pink Dinosaur Event.  Unfortunately, due to technical gremlins, his beautiful piece was lost!  But now, what was once lost is now found, and we have this last Pink Dinosaur to marvel at!  I love the detail in the screen!

Look for more of Felipe Elias here on ART Evolved.

Click here to see all the Pink Dinosaurs!

Black silk pajama, 1930

Click image for 544 x 1074 size. Scanned from Portuguese magazine Ilustração, No. 112, August 16 1930.

Society miss at the Estoril beach, Portugal, wearing a black silk pajama.

"Dinosauri in Carne e Ossa" the great italian Paleoart Event!

The poster of "Dinosauri in Carne e Ossa".

Hello everyone!
This is my first post here on ART Evolved. It was dedicated to "Dinosauri in Carne e Ossa", the first big italian paleoart exposition, and to the people who worked to make real this beautiful event.

The exposition is located into the city of Piacenza (Nothern Italy), at the Urban Center. Dinosauri in Carne e Ossa started 1st day of March and will remain open until the 31st of May 2011.
It was organized by the italian paleontologists Simone Maganuco and Stefania Nosotti, with the collaboration of other paleontologists, all the italian paleoartists and the GeoModel team.
The GeoModel sculptures are simply amazing: they are among the most accurate dinosaur reconstructions of this years and were designed by a large number of experts! For example, the Spinosaurus aegyptiacus sculpture (pic. n.2) was born from the pencils of the paleoartists Davide Bonadonna (2010 Lanzendorf PaleoArt Prize, scientific illustration category) and Marco Auditore; the scientific supervision of Simone Maganuco and Cristiano Dal Sasso (believe me, they know very well Spinosaurid dinosaurs!); the sculptural skills of Andrea Leanza and many others...
In the "outdoor" part of the exposition visitors can find more than fifteen sculptures of prehistoric animals (check the pictures on the bottom of the post). The "indoor" area is dedicated to the 2d paleoart (a lots of elegant panels shows the illustrations of all the italian paleoartists: Davide Bonadonna, Lukas Panzarin, Loana Riboli, Fabio Pastori, Marco Auditore and more...). Here the visitors can find also some shop stands and the preview of ongoing projects, like a three-dimensional prehistoric aquarium.
In short, Dinosauri in Carne e Ossa it's great and exciting. This event open the door to a big year for the european paleoart.
Even, the 14th of April the american paleontologist John "Jack" Horner will come in Italy to visit the exhibition and to talk about the extinction of some dinosaur genus (Torosaurus, Dracorex, Stygimoloch et cetera...)!

Life-size sculpture of Dracorex (juvenile Pachycephalosaurus?).
On the background a big print with six dinosaurs heads. In the image, behind Dracorex, we can see "Torosaurus" and Triceratops, (maybe) two different growth-stage of the same animal.
Photo by Donato Colangelo.

A close-up of the life-size sculpture of Spinosaurus.
This sculpture is very beautiful, one of the best reconstruction of this animal in the entire world.
Photo by Donato Colangelo.

Life size sculpture of Pachyrhinosaurus canadensis over the snow!
Photo by Donato Colangelo.


God separating light from darkness in the book of Genesis (Michelangelo)

Illustrations can enhance words, but not everyone is interested in having their words enhanced.  In fact, translating words into pictures sometimes provokes people to violence.  This reaction is a tribute to the power of illustration (although many illustrators, given a choice, might prefer the second prize). 

 Some reasons for hostile reactions to pictures are obvious.  Thomas Nast's political cartoons were more effective than written articles in ending the corrupt regime of William "Boss" Tweed of New York. Tweed is reported to have cursed, "Stop them damn pictures! I don't care what the papers write about me. My constituents can't read, but they can see the pictures."

Later when Tweed was convicted of fraud, he  fled to Spain where the authorities reportedly used one of Nast's cartoons to identify and capture him.

Another reason for objecting to illustrations is that they can seem more vividly offensive than the words they illustrate.  Norman Lindsay's illustrations for the classic play Lysistrata were censored although Aristophanes' words were not.

Similarly, the authorities censored Aubrey Beardsley's illustrations of Oscar Wilde's play, Salome.  Such pictures can cross the line even when their accompanying text does not. 

Readers are free to imagine anything words describe, as long as the images remain in their heads.  Once an artist puts those images in tangible form, he confirms his enemies' worst suspicisions about what goes on in his lurid mind, and provides them with evidence to use against him at trial.

Some argue that pictures are more dangerous than words because they are more accessible to young, impressionable audiences.  The slightly demented Frederic Wertham urged censorship of comic books in the 1950s out of concern that pictures containing plural meanings might corrupt America's youth.

When I first read Wertham's book as a boy, I couldn't figure out what I was supposed to be seeing here.  Now that I understand, he seems even crazier than he did back then.

But perhaps the most interesting argument against illustration is that certain subjects are too important to be pictured at all.  That's the topic I'd like to chat about this week.  According to this view, any visual form created by human imagination can only limit or debase certain subjects, no matter how talented the artist, no matter how moral, respectful or chaste the image.  We get this argument most often from theological circles, where true believers argue that drawing or painting a divine subject necessarily limits something that by definition is unlimited. 

The Prophet Muhammad is repeatedly quoted as saying that artists should burn in hell for painting pictures:
Verily the most grievously tormented people amongst the denizens of Hell on the Day of Resurrection would be the painters of pictures...." (Sahih Muslim vol.3, no.5271)

The painter of these pictures will be punished on the Day of Resurrection....'" (Bukhari vol.9, book 93 no.646)
Last year, gentle Seattle cartoonist Molly Norris, dismayed by growing censorship of drawings of the Prophet Muhammad, suggested a "Draw Mohammed Day."  She did not urge that the drawings be disrespectful or unflattering, only that artists exercise their right to draw anything, including Muhammad, lest artists wake up one day and discover that their rights had disappeared altogether.  Her impertinence earned Norris a death sentence from the thoroughly demented cleric Anwar al-Awlaki who instructed his followers, "her proper abode is Hellfire."

Pakistanis burning cartoonist Norris in effigy

While this position appears contrary to  
mainstream Islamic thought about pictures, the resulting threats against Norris' life were sadly real. 
Her employer reported that on the advice of the FBI, Norris was "moving, changing her name, and essentially wiping away her identity."

The notion that drawing an object can be a sacriligious act is not confined to Islam.  This is an age old battle, spanning many religions, between cataphatic and apophatic theology.  The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:3) contain a pretty broad prohibition against creating likenesses:
Thou shalt not make unto thee a graven image, nor any manner of likeness, of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 
Different versions of this prohibition recur throughout the Old Testament, where we learn that a wrathful God may go so far as to punish an artist's great grandchildren.

God creating the earth in the book of Genesis (Michelangelo)
The Commandment against making a likeness carried through to early Christianity; it's difficult to find Christian images prior to the third century, at which point many Christians seem to have accepted that illustrations of holy subjects could be an important tool in promoting the young religion.  Centuries later, there were still traditionalists who feared that images could violate the second Commandment, resulting in idol worship. Others became alarmed because visual depictions sometimes exposed apparent inconsistencies in church dogma. There were repeated periods when  religious leaders, believing that  "misinterpretation of religious images often leads to heresy, banned all pictorial representations and began a systematic destruction of holy images."

It is easy to understand Boss Tweed's resentment toward political cartoons, but are there any thoughtful observations to be made about this more impassioned view that certain subjects are just too important to be pictured?

For me, the Book of Job is one of the most profound poems about the human condition.  It speaks to both the religious fundamentalist and the dedicated atheist.  Job searches for meaning from the whirlwind, looking for answers in a form that could make sense to his poor human brain.  The whirlwind responds that there are no answers for Job, and that he'd better get accustomed to disappointment.  Job learns that God has no intention of explaining himself to humans until we are able to create a bird or a fish, as God does.  Discussing efforts by Job and his friends to understand the universe, Princeton's Michael Sugrue states, "the book of Job suggests that in a way, all theology is blasphemy because it seeks to make God comprehensible to the mind of man.... The answer to why God sent evil into the world is: don't ask."

I suspect opponents of sacred illustration are telling us, "don't ask" how divine things look.  Don't try to define God as having a long white beard and a white bath robe with a gold "G" on the pocket. Divine subjects are inscrutable and need to be defended against callow and presumptuous artists who believe they can define the undefinable with glib visualizations. 

But this seems a pretty shallow reaction to a pretty profound subject. By focusing on physical likenesses, they address the religious experience at its most superficial level.  Artists such as Frazetta or R. Crumb have done powerful, inspirational-- some might even say divine-- work, but it certainly won't be found among their representational pictures of deities, which are so lame it is comical to think they could alter anyone's thinking.

Frazetta's "King of Kings"

R. Crumb's God of the Old Testament

There may be much that is sacred in art.  (For example, some people claim that meditating on a large Rothko painting puts them in touch with sacred feelings.)  And some art may be legitimately unsettling to some religions views.  But those who claim to protect the sacred from physical likenesses may be more concerned with protecting the bureaucracy and infrastructure of  religious institutions (and perhaps the prerogatives of clergy) than preserving the experience of the divine. 

Illustration by Tom, 1930

Click image for 808 x 603 size. Scanned from Portuguese magazine Ilustração, No. 111, August 1 1930.

Brazilian born artist Thomaz de Mello (Tom).

Scott Hartman's Epic History of Skeletal Drawings!

Skeletal drawings evolution. Image from Scott Hartman's blog

If you haven't visited Scott Hartman's new blog Skeletal Drawing yet, then you are in for a real treat!

He is currently presenting a definitive history of skeletal drawing through the ages in a three part series. If you think the evolution of the standard side-on skeletal drawing starts and finishes with Bob Bakker and Greg Paul, then, as Scott explains, you are sorely mistaken!

Extinct Elephant by Cuvier. Image from Scott Hartman's blog

- Part one of the History of Skeletal Drawings covers the pre-20th century era; starting with Leonardo da Vinci and pausing at Richard Owens.

- Part two of the History of Skeletal Drawings covers the Bone Wars to the 1950's; continuing with O.C. Marsh and culminating with Charles R. Knight.

- Part three of the History of Skeletal Drawings covers the Modern Era; from the 1950's through the Dinosaur Renaissance.

Now go read the other posts he has on Skeletal Drawing, or drool over the wonderful skeletal drawings in!

Tyrannosaurus rex from Osbourn. Image from Scott Hartman's blog

Millard Sheets, San Dimas Train Station, c. 1935

Evan Boucher's Thoracosaurus

My name is Evan Boucher, and I am a CG character/creature artist from Pennsylvania, PA with a major passion for zoology/paleontology. I have been following ART Evolved for quite some time now, as I've been venturing into Paleoart. I learned a great deal about Paleoart, and it's place in our culture through this blog, and wanted to share some recent work. I recently completed my MS in Digital Media at Drexel University; my thesis being a paleoart reconstruction and restoration of an extinct crocodylian, Thoracosaurus neocesariensis.

The project involved digital scanning of fossils, reconstructing the rest of the skeleton based on the literature/modern analog, restoring the musculature based on modern analogue, and then finally restoring the skin. The goal of the project was then to be an animation showcasing a proposed slice of life for the animal, while also showcasing the science that went into it. The project was also mentored by both artists and paleontologists. If you are interested, please feel free to check it out. The final animation and accompanying thesis document can be found here:

And if interested in my other work, the rest of my portfolio is here:

Sears Catalogue, 1926

1926 26, originally uploaded by iz_bakinog_ormara.

Trilobite Boy featured on io9

(cross-posted from here)

Trilobite Boy and some of my other paintings and drawings were featured on io9 this morning, written up by editor-in-chief Annalee Newitz.  Trilobite Boy appeared right on the front page between Captain America and Captain Jack Sparrow.

The article is a lot of fun, and yes, I'd love to work with James Cameron on the next Avatar.  Or Gore Verbinski, George Lucas or Guillermo del Toro, for that matter. ;-P

Thanks to Marilyn Terrell for sharing Trilobite Boy with Annalee in the first place!

More Trilobite Boy blog posts here, and dA gallery here. I hope to have the first installment of the comic complete before the end of March. 

Ilustração, No. 111, August 1 1930 - 40

Click image for 657 x 875 size.

Portuguese theater actors Amélia Rey Colaço and Robles Monteiro, caricatured by Brazilian born artist Thomaz de Mello (Tom).

Sisters G : Karla Gutchrlein

Cover by Ilberino dos Santos, 1930

Click image for 1103 x 1502 size. Cover of Portuguese magazine Ilustração, No. 112, August 16 1930.

I own Greg Paul's Albertoceratops!

Famed palaeo-artist Gregory Paul has thrown down his gauntlets on a number of paleo-art topics in a series of mass public emails (here, here, and here). While a few of his issues were reasonable, specifically that people stop plagiarizing his specific works, many of his demands were not. The most ludicrous of these being the following:

I am going to have to regretfully require that other artists either stop using my materials as source material and do entirely original restorations from beginning to end, or make arrangements to provide compensation if they do so when engaging in commercial projects.

He later clarified this to include his skeletal reconstructions:

The basic rule needs to be that that an artist produce their own skeletal restoration based on original research. This would include using photos of the skeleton, or an illustrated technical paper on the particular taxon. This then goes into your files as documentation of originality, and you can publish it.

So boiled down Mr. Paul has stated you can not reference his skeletals AT ALL if you are creating your own palaeo-art, as he owns the skeletal. Well that might sound good on paper Mr. Paul, but you really should have thought this claim through...

For you see, by your rules Gregory Paul I can state quite definitively that you do not own the reference rights to your skeletal of Albertoceratops (fossils of which are pictured above), but in fact I own them! Bare with me as I explain.

Okay so first a few definitions and clarifications up front. First to me referencing would mean looking at something (picture, fossil, whatever) for inspiration on your own work. In the case of a fossil skeletal, I would use it to roughly figure out proportions of limbs, bodies, heads, etc within a specific critter so that my 3D model is built with the right relative size within itself (my precise method posted here on ART Evolved in fact). However beyond this my own work bares no actual similarity to the skeletal in the final product. When properly referencing yours shouldn't bare much similarity either!

Tracing an outline you fill in later or reposing the bones on a skeletal and than presenting them as your own final product is NOT referencing. That is out right plagiarism, about which Mr. Paul is completely correct.

Now to claim no one else can reference your work (which immediately becomes a ridiculous assertion in the first place really, but I'll humour this line of logic so I can get to my punch line) you must own the material on which this work is based. I am NOT arguing Mr. Paul doesn't own the actual composition of his skeletals, but to say I can't reference them at all takes this claim to a new level.

So scattered throughout Mr. Paul's emails, skipping the majority of side tangents where he strokes his own ego about his accuracy, artistic greatness, and research prowess etc. I have managed to derive the following formula to how he creates and, I guess, therefore how he owns his fossil skeletal restorations:
  1. Artist looks at fossil skeleton
  2. Artist measures fossil skeleton,
  3. Artist puts fossil skeleton on paper
  4. Ta-da said Artist now owns fossil skeleton!
So by this formula I can see why Mr. Paul can now claim he owns his skeletal restorations. He is the sole generator of the fossil, and thus he has sole claim to it. However I think he has purposefully skipped some VERY important steps to the fossil acquiring process to achieve this end. My version of the formula goes like this:
  1. Palaeontologist finds skeleton
  2. Palaeontologist digs up skeleton
  3. Palaeontologist prepares skeleton
  4. Artist asks Palaeontologist to look at fossil skeleton
  5. Artist (with permission from Palaeontologist) looks at fossil skeleton
  6. Artist (with permission from Palaeontologist) measures fossil skeleton,
  7. Artist (with permission from Palaeontologist) puts fossil skeleton on paper
  8. Palaeontologist and their institution still retain possession and ownership of the fossil skeleton by way of actually being the ones with the bones!
Oh yeah, there's those scientist people who have a lot to do with getting the fossil bones for Paul to draw. Maybe they fall into this equation a bit more than he is trying to make it seem.

Okay so the fossil's attached scientists (or more appropriately their institution) trump Paul's argument on ownership of his skeletals in this way. The fossil would not be there for Gregory Paul to reference if not for the institution spending the time (and money) to find it, dig it up, and clean it off for him.

So immediately Mr. Paul loses all claims to any of his works being an original reference right here. Mr. Paul does not own the fossils on which his own reference was made. It also means he needed a reference to make his reference. This means it is hypocritical to claim I can not reference him, as he needed a reference too. However the trap he's set himself gets better!

So Mr. Paul stated clearly in the selected quote above "make arrangements to provide compensation if they do" reference one of his skeletal reconstructions. Well we've just established he doesn't own the skeletal, so he should have had to paid the actual owner of the fossil for his own reference.

Perhaps Mr. Paul pays some institutions for this access, but I know as a matter of fact in one key case he did not.

This is Albertoceratops, of which a Gregory Paul skeletal appears in his book the Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs. The only known described remains of Albertoceratops nesmoi (TMP.2001.26.1) are currently held by the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller Alberta. As the museum is operated by the Government of Alberta this would then mean the fossils are the property of the Province of Alberta. Under the Alberta Historic Resource Act 1979 all Alberta fossils are the property of the Alberta people. Hmmmm wait a second, I'm a taxpaying citizen of Alberta! I own 1/3724832 of Albertoceratops!

So as I know I haven't received any compensation from Mr. Paul for the use of MY Albertoceratops (or any number of Albertan Dinosaurs discovered after 1979) that his required system of owning references and paying for their use references is total BS!!!

Seriously my tax dollars went into preparing and presenting that Albertoceratops for EVERYONE to see, enjoy, and learn from. Mr. Paul has absolutely no right to claim monopoly on this or any other publicly funded fossil!

If he were to dig up, prep, and then draw a Dinosaur skeletons than we MIGHT be talking a different ball game (I emphasis I said might... I'd argue referencing is such a nebulous thing the court's would dismiss your case immediately unless you were clearly copying a fictional creature's skeletal. However we're talking real prehistoric critters here baby. You can't copyright reality!)

My concluding thoughts:

Feel free to reference any materials or art you'd like for your restorations. Just be sure to make the final product original! Mr. Paul's point about the final product is quite valid. His points about owning references are a joke, especially with public items like fossils. Sadly for him, he alone hasn't got this punchline just yet!

Oh and you can make those cheques out for Albertoceratops to my PO Box please :P

The new "Bone Wars" - David Tana's take on GSP

The new "Bone Wars": Greg Paul, science, and the art of paleontology.
(cross-posted from David Tana's Superoceras)

*Let me start by saying that I have been sitting on and rewriting this post for nearly a week now. As the conversation has been taking place in e-mails and on the web, my opinions on the subject have been all over the place. But I finally feel that I have something to add the conversation, so here it goes.*

The only time I ever met interacted with Greg Paul was at SVP in Pittsburgh in October 2011. I had picked up a copy of his new book, the somewhat controversial The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs, and was thumbing through it, when a voice from behind said, "I hear it's terrible." As I turned around I said, "I don't know, I've always been a fan of his work." I nearly fell over when I realized it was Mr. Paul whom I was speaking with. My girlfriend, who was with me at the time, can attest to this fact. I was speechless for a few seconds, but in the end, I was glad to see that he was capable of having a laugh at himself, and I admired his dry wit as much as I admired his work.

For those of you who don't know Mr. Paul, he is a dinosaur illustrator and researcher who has been influential in establishing the "new look" of dinosaurs over the last several decades. He has published a number of books, scientific papers, magazine and newspaper articles, and illustration guides. He has also hand drawn an extensive collection of skeletal restorations, muscle studies, and life reconstructions that are unparalleled in their accuracy. As is indicated above, I have the utmost respect and appreciation for the work he has done over the years. But my opinion about him started to shift around a week ago, when he sent to an e-mail to the Dinosaur Mailing List regarding the use of his dinosaur restorations

In the message, Paul starts by talking about a very real problem: blatant plagiarism of his work, people making money off of this plagiarism, and the fact that people selling ripped-off art undermines his ability to sell his own. The action of the offenders, as many have commented, is completely unacceptable. But things got a little stranger from there, as Paul started multiple other threads on the subject, asked people to stop posing their skeletal restorations in the same manner as his, and asked artists not use his work at all as reference material for anything they are working on. Other paleontologists and paleoartists quickly got involved in the conversation. The blogosphere then started to talk about it, with posts on the exchanges showing up here on ART Evolved: Life's Time Capsule (twice), The Paleo King (twice), Love in the Time of Chasmosaurus (twice) , drip, and The Bite Stuff. It's even reached Scientific American at this point.

I tried to hold off on writing about the whole thing, as the conversation is taking place in multiple locations already. But there is something about what Paul has said that directly impacts me, and so I think I'll add one more voice, as small as it may be. And I do mean that. I am not a professional paleontologist, or a professional artist. I do not derive any income at all from my writing on my blog, or the art I create. In fact, I'm almost hesitant to call myself a writer or an artist at all, despite the fact that I do write, and I do create art. I do both because I want to. But that doesn't mean that in the future, I wouldn't like to be monetarily compensated for my work, should I become proficient at either skill.

And this is where Greg Paul comes in. He has, unquestionably, inspired generations of paleoartists with his work. He also created an industry standard for skeletal restorations. Whether you know it or not, you've probably seen a piece by Greg Paul. He has published many of them books, articles, and papers. He spends a great deal of time and energy on his work His skeletals in particular are top notch, as Paul and others in the field fully acknowledge. I don't want to take that away from him (or any other professional paleoartist) in any way, shape, or form. And no one else should be able to get away with copying his work and calling it their own. But the "rules" he is imposing raise some serious questions for someone like myself who wants to draw a picture of a dinosaur, just for the sake of drawing it and expanding their knowledge and artistic ability.

I'll give you an example. Back during the month of October, ART Evolved hosted their "Pink Dinosaur" event. I drew a dinosaur every day for a month. Some of them were simple and cartoonish. Others were a bit more detailed. And again, even though I'm not trained as a paleoartist, I like to try and create images that are (as) accurate (as I am capable of making them). I used a reference image, be it a photo of mine, a skeletal from a paper, or an image from Wikimedia Commons, for most of the pieces I did. And I made note of the specimen, figure, or paper that I got my reference from. With my Balaur bondoc, I referenced and used a skeletal restoration from the PNAS article. For my Anchiornis huxleyi, I didn't use a skeletal reference, but I did use information from the Science article that described the color and patterns present in this animals feathers. In both situations, I used a peer-reviewed, scientific article to assist in my life reconstruction. I just used different data from each. Before last week, I wouldn't have thought anything about it. The articles were produced to communicate and share scientific knowledge. I used that knowledge to make amateur reconstructions. That's ok, right?

According to Greg Paul, no. Well, let me clarify. Had the papers or images been his, it wouldn't have been ok to use them. I think. His basic points in his initial e-mail are that he wants anyone working on a reconstruction to not use any of his work as a reference, and do all of the research for themselves. That is, go to a museum collection, photograph specimens, dig through papers, scale skeletal elements, and create a unique skeletal restoration (not to be posed in the same style as his either), upon which they should then wrap the muscle and skin to create a unique piece of art. I'm not opposed to that, at all. And if I had access to collections and papers, I would be totally for it. In fact, I'd love it. That being said, am I doing something inherently wrong by using skeletals that that come from journal articles if they are the only sources I have access to? Especially if what I am doing is not for commercial gain, and I don't stand to compete with anyone in the paleoart market?

If "of course not" is your answer to that question, let me take it a step further. Would it be unthinkable for me to reference skeletal restorations that Greg Paul has published in articles in peer-reviewed journals or volumes as references? Not copy them or call them my own, but use them as a basis, with permission from and/or credit to their creator, for my work? What about books, like Predatory Dinosaurs of the World or Dinosaurs of the Air? Paul has made a point to say that his skeletal restorations, muscle studies, and life reconstructions featured in the The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs are copyrighted. And out of respect for his very clear wishes, I guess I won't ever be using any of them as a basis for my own reconstructions. That's too bad, because I've purchased many of Paul's books specifically to gain access to his restorations, which I consider of the highest caliber. I have paid money, a portion of which I imagine he receives, in order to gain this access. Just like I pay for SVP membership to access the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. He has created what he calls a "uniquely extensive library of detailed skeletal restorations that are exceptionally proportionally accurate in most cases". Scientifically accurate skeletal restorations, pure and simple. And they most certainly are. Should that not, then, mean that they are part of a body of scientific knowledge, which should be accessible to those interested in the field. Should his research not be used, referenced, and built upon?

I really don't know anymore. I have a copy of Ken Carpenter's Carnivorous Dinosaurs on my shelf. And I used an article in it, by Greg Paul, as a reference for a reconstruction and a post I did on Therizinosaurus about a year ago when Art Evolved put up their "Therizinosaur Gallery". I didn't use his skeletal as a base for my reconstruction (as you can clearly tell from my piece), but I used information in his article - helpful information - to decide the posture and look for my therizinosaur. I used information from other articles as well. Was what I did wrong? Should he want to, can Mr. Paul seek legal action because I've made it publicly known that I've referenced (again, not copied or even used his restorations) his work? Where does one draw the line?

Looking back on my Therizinosaurus, the end result is not perfect, and having learned from that experience, I know what I would do differently the next time around. Using a skeletal restoration would be an integral part of making my reconstruction all the more accurate. Paul himself has said that he is worried that there will be no "professional body of paleoillustration that paleontolgists could call upon", and believes that "the quality of the art available to the public" is degrading. You would think, given such sentiments, that he'd be willing to let his work, which he knows is scientifically accurate, be used by those looking to produce paleoart, even at the level of someone like myself. It really is a shame, because I think he has made amazing scientific contributions to the field of dinosaur paleontology. Paul's work is some of, if not the, best out there. And to cut off paleoartists of the future and hobbyists like myself off from his work, means the quality of what we produce (again, admitting that my work is not of the highest quality in general) will only be diminished.

Luckily, there are places out there to find skeletal drawings and reconstruction tips, like Scott Hartman's Skeletal, his new blog, and here atART Evolved, among others. And I completely want Paul, and all other professional paleoartists to be able to make a living with what they do. I cannot stress enough how important their work is to the scientific community, and the general public as well. But I also want up and coming professionals to be able to get a foot in the door. They deserve the opportunity. For example, all of the "Crew" here (who seemed to go unmentioned when people on the list started talking about organizing a paleoart presence online, when they clearly already have) deserve a shot at "going pro" if they want it. That's why I'm truly disheartened by one statement in particular that Paul has made. And it is less than encouraging to read things like the following, coming from such a highly respected member of the field:
"If you are thinking that gee wiz doing your own technical research and restorations sure sounds like a pain in the butt, or may be beyond your knowledge base, and you don't want to risk doing inaccurate restorations or do not think paying me a fee is workable, then there is another alternative. Perhaps it is better if you do something else. I know, it's lots of fun illustrating dinosaurs. But if you cannot produce high quality, original paleorestorations is it really a good idea to be in the business?"
I'm sorry. But I cannot agree with that. He's not talking about people stealing his work, or underbidding him at this point. He's straight up telling people that if their work isn't as good as his, they should stop trying. And that's not right. I don't care who you are. It's downright mean, and honestly, he's been a little nasty and dismissive to some other individuals who have commented on how realistic his vision is. I really don't want to speak negatively of someone that I've regarded so highly for so long. But it has become increasingly difficult to take some of his more valid points seriously, let alone have a productive conservation on some of the real issues facing art, science, and the intersection between them today.

Paul knows it, you know it, I know it. Drawing dinosaurs is fun, and if you want to do it, do it, no matter what your skill level. I may never have the status of Greg Paul, or sell any of my art, but that isn't going to stop me from doing illustrations of dinosaurs and other critters. And I'm not looking to break into "the business" today, but if someone does want to sign me onto a project in the future, I think it would be an honor, and I would reserve the right to set any price I want for my services, should I charge. If Paul expects others to take him seriously in all of this, and respect his wishes in regards to his work, he should respect the wishes of others in regards to theirs as well, and stop treating anyone that doesn't meet his standard like their opinions on the issue don't matter. Again, my voice might be small, but that doesn't mean it should not be heard.

In closing, I think it's important to reiterate that even if I'm taking issue with his personal opinions now, I have the utmost respect for Greg Paul, and his work. I would certainly never copy it, and call it my own. Nor would I do that with the work of any other artist. To do so is simply wrong. And I want professional paleoartists to be able to make a living. But I also want part-time and aspiring paleoartists to be able to get work as well. And everyone reserves the right to do work for pay, pro bono, or under some type of creative commons license. If you want to use a pose for a skeletal restoration that has become an industry standard, I don' think you should be afraid to. You can't copyright a pose that is within the biological limits of an animals movement anymore than you can copyright an animal itself. But you can (and I will) respect Mr. Paul's wishes, and not use his skeletals for any of my future reconstructions.

I'm sure that this discussion if far from over, so please, feel free to comment here, or at any of the links that I've overpopulated this post with. Contribute a post yourself, if you’d like. If nothing else, I hope that Mr. Paul's e-mails have shed some light on a subject that doesn't get a lot of attention, and that some real solutions to the real issues that face all paleoartists (not just Paul's list of demands) are addressed. Here's to a brighter future for the science and art of paleontology.

Queen of Portugal Maria Amélia, 1930

Click image for 804 x 870 size. Scanned from Portuguese magazine Ilustração, No. 112, August 16 1930.

The Ball of the Empire, 1930

Click image for 1033 x 813 size. Scanned from Portuguese magazine Ilustração, No. 110, July 16, 1930.

Foto Sasha, London: models representing Sheffield Cuttlery in the Ball of the Empire, in the British industries parade, in the Albert Hall of London, organized by the British Legion. From left to right: Lucy Feord, Marjories Lancaster, Victoria Yates, Marjorie Heal and Gladys Godwin.

ART Evolved's Ask a Biologist Initiative!

A little while ago, Dave Hone of the Archosaur Musings came to us asking a favour:  Would the ART Evolved Community be able to help out Ask a Biologist with the creation of some free advertising materials?  Posters and blog icons with images of animals, plants, and fossils - all sporting the Ask a Biologist logo?

Of course I said no, but then Craig smacked me in the head with a Papo Pachyrhinosaur and reminded me what an awesome website and useful resource Ask a Biologist is!  If you haven't been before, drop everything and go.  NOW!  Wouldn't you like to know how accurate is "Primeval" is?  Is it possible for dinosaur DNA to be preserved?  Bear vs Lion - who would win?!?

What Dave and us would love to see is Ask a Biologist gaining popularity with kids and within schools, and becoming a more commonly used resource!  Can you help us with this?

So the challenge goes out to create media that captures what Ask a Biologist is all about.  They are looking for:
  • posters - A4 or 8.5x11 sizes, easy to distribute digitally or print, so teachers can pin up!
  • blog icons - side bar-sized or post-sized, easy to upload and eye-catching!

As long as the logo and the website (below) are included, anything goes!  Portrait or landscape.  Dinosaurs, horses, lions, ants, trees. Add some questions and answers.  Collage, photos, digital, paint, whatever!  Examples of what Dave is sort of looking for can be seen on Ask a Biologist's facebook group. But we, as ART Evolvians, can do better!

One more thing: artists are welcome to add their names / websites to their posters if they want (though obviously not too big so that the main Ask a Biologist message gets through! ;-)  Artists should also recognise that all artwork submitted will be distributed online and in the real world, so you may not want to put their most prized work out there!

All work sent in (to will be posted here on ART Evolved, as well as online with Ask a Biologist so that people can pick and use whichever posters and icons they like!  Join the Ask a Biologist Initiative!


The website for Ask a Biologist is

The font used in the Ask a Biologist logo is Myriad Pro Black and Myriad Pro Bold.

Below are several logos to download and use in your posters:

Thanks so much for supporting Ask a Biologist!  I can't wait to see what you come up with!  Questions can be addressed in the comment section.  Awesome!

epic GSP

(also at my blog)


We need little reminder that the state of funding for the natural sciences is not exactly rosy. We need little reminder that artists are faced with game-changing technical and social upheavals. But apparently we do need some reminder that there are brightly shining bits of glory here and there, often carried out on the backs of people who simply don't want to accept that we are neglecting science and science education.

We need this reminder in the face of Greg Paul's tirades against open community involvement... and I do not say that lightly. Greg Paul began with a completely sound campaign to respect copyright and to organize as artists for a better working conditions. Well - to be more precise, to respect his copyright and his conditions. And for all I can see, that's where the arguments have been stranded. He made no attempt to clarify his positions, to define where the wiggly line between scientific reference and intellectual property nor to propose how a just pricing system can accommodate for up-and-coming artists or those from countries with lower costs of living.

Greg Paul is the antithesis of how I view science - whereby I refer more to his means of (non) communication than any specific demand. He states ubiquitously and accepts no other opinion. He writes private cease and desist mails that one desist replying to the open forum to which he's posted to. And he attacks people like Heinrich Mallison, Mark Witton and Wilbur Wateley for expressing opinion and requesting clarification.

The crux of the issue is that instead of rallying all the parties together to address the very real issues of neglected science and science outreach, he pits the artist against the scientist and the amateur against the professional. Following his arguments, Mark Witton is "ruining paleoartistry" by having illustrated some papers for friends. I certainly am for having illustrated blogs in non-monetary gratitude that such people are sharing their incredible knowledge with me and others via their unpaid(!) blogs. Which makes Mark and Dave Hone and Heinrich Mallison and Darren Naish all guilty of ruining paleo-literature. And PZ Meyers is soliciting "useless, supine,negative, defeatist, inadequately informed nay saying, accomodationist, pessimistic" artists just like me. (Actually - that suddenly sounds like a cool t-shirt.) It's just all so short-sighted and self-centered that the very real issues are not done justice. I prefer to jive with Heinrich, the artEvolved, Michael Habib and anyone else who is interested.

Mr. Paul's emails: first, second, third and the mail that broke the camel's back; the artEvolved community responses and the no GSP logo above is yours to do with what you wish, rights or no rights. Its a symbol that I'll no longer rely on his work as a source of information and that I will pose my figures in a species-specific extreme gait because that is a pose which conveys essential information about that animal and would not hold up to Mr.Paul's copyright claims.

(Note: the lat mail from Paul hasn't appeared in the archive yet, I'll correct that link as soon as it does.)

Ilustração, No. 109, July 1 1930 - 42a

Philosofossilising: The Gregory Paul Emails

Famed Palaeo-artist Gregory S. Paul has recently sent out a series of public emails making requests and demands of other Palaeo-artists to cease certain practises with their own art, and we think these emails have raised several valid philosophy questions. Meaning its time for another Philosofossilising here on ART Evolved!

What we now need are people's thoughts on these emails and the issues Mr. Paul raises! If you have an opinion on any part (or all parts) of Mr. Paul's emails we want to read them!

We are accepting essays from anyone and everyone on the topic! If you are not a member of ART Evolved simply type your "essay" up in a word processor and send it our way at

A brief breakdown of Gregory Paul's emails include the issues of:

  • People copying his artwork
  • Owning what he is calling the "Gregory Paul Style" of palaeo-art
  • Claiming ownership of his exact pose of skeletal reconstructions.
  • Calling for people to cease basing their live reconstructions on his skeletal reconstructions.
  • For other artists to stop underbidding him on art contracts.

Here are the links to Mr. Paul's emails for your specific reference. The first, second, and third

Thank you for all your great support whth the Save the Arts Campaign leading up to the spending review announcement. Although the Campaign has now finished, the Visual Arts London Strategy Group plans to continue developing ideas to support the sector, aiming to advocate, promote and publicise the exciting and engaging work it delivers. 
Watch this space.....

Artist Help Japan

With a massive earthquake hits, we need to do something.  David Maas posted this a few days ago and it seems like a very appropriate response to such a dire situation. 

Go to Artists Help Japan to donate.


Beauty queen, 1930

Ilustração, No. 112, August 16 1930.

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