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PALEOLIFE ARTIST OF THE CENTURY



David Hill wrote:

> Now that we have figured out "who likes which paleontologist", I believe
> that this question should come next:  Who is the #1 paleolife illustrator?

Sometimes I think that this list has taken on a decidedly "PEOPLE magazine"
bent of late, but I've got a rather nasty cold today and I'm not going to
get any work done, so I'll play...

Unlike the paleontologist thread, I'm going to limit my response to this
query to artists that specifically do dinosaurs (although there is some
cross-over in their work into other paleolife subjects). I'd ask, also,
that people refrain from simply listing their "favorites." The real
question is (or should be), "Who has contributed the most to paleolife art
in this century?" For me, as someone intimately involved in paleolife art,
I'd have to call it a three-way tie.

First, CHARLES R. KNIGHT. IMO, there wouldn't *be* a field of paleolife art
if it wasn't for Knight; it was his approach to the subject as wildlife art
featuring prehistoric subjects that created this genre in the first place.
Additionally, by using a strict adherence to the science as the basis for
his paintings and sculptures, he set the standard which all serious
paleolife illustrators since follow. And let's not forget that, despite the
passing of time that has rendered his depictions scientifically obsolete,
his paintings in and of themselves are still nothing short of breath-taking
in both their simplicity and beauty. It was pure joy to walk through the
Field Museum during SVP last fall and see those gorgeous murals that so
inspired me as a child.

Second, GREG PAUL. What more needs to be said than that Greg virtually
single- handedly revolutionized our current concepts about the appearance
of dinosaurs; his work is the defining statement on the subject in the
latter part of the 20th Century. Again -- and not to belittle his artistic
achievements -- it is his serious committment to *research* that makes his
contribution to the field so valuable. It's doubtful that there's a
paleolife artist working today that doesn't owe Greg a debt of gratitude
for the ground-breaking work he's done. And let's face it, kids, his
drawings and paintings are really killer on top of it! These are *real*
dinosaurs, not cartoons or sci-fi monsters.

That said, however, I feel I need to add a third name to this list, that of
DOUG HENDERSON. Despite the stated opinion of a nameless party that Doug's
work is less than adequate ("Sucks" was the word used, AIR), there is a
purely artistic component to Doug's drawings and paintings that transcends
mere illustration. The sense of atmosphere in his pieces is palpable: we
can feel the thick, humid air, smell the rich scent of the forest; these
are windows onto a real place. Best, though, is his stylistic approach, so
at odds with the "paint every stinkin' scale" school that's become so
popular these days (said approach being what I believe led to the "sucks"
comment). This is art in its purest sense, at once rich, evocative, and
visually satisfying.

My apologies to runner-up true talents Mark Hallett, David Peters, Donna
Braginetz, Greg Wenzel, and Berislav Krzic (my *personal* faves), as well
as (fill in the name of *your* favorite that I may have slighted). I'm an
avowed dinosaur art junkie, and it's always a pleasure for me to see new
work by these stellar artists. But Knight, Paul, and Henderson's work has,
IMO, contributed the most to the field of paleolife art in this century.




Brian (franczak@ntplx.net)
http://www.geocities.com/CapeCanaveral/Launchpad/2045/