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Re: Khaan's paleoecology & artist inaccuracy (long)
In a message dated 11/14/01 7:58:11 AM Pacific Standard Time, firstname.lastname@example.org writes:
<< Wouldn't it seem more appropriate, however, especially with it being at the AMNH, if the Oviraptor guarding the nest had some feathers (at least on the arms), but maybe this painting was done before discoveries suggesting such? >>
It was probably painted before.
<< One thing is certain, though. If Dan is right and what is depicted is a full moon, it could not, in reality, appear in that sky. Why not? Note that the angle made by the shadow of the Oviraptor's left wrist when joined to the animal's left wrist. This tells us the sun is very approximately 30 (or more) degrees above the horizon. Thus, a moon in that sky position should not be full. I enlarged the image to see if the moon is really full, and although the resolution makes it difficult to tell, there may be a slight shadow on the left side of the moon. Yet, if what I may be seeing there is in fact a darkened sliver of the moon, the shadow still would not be sufficient and at the correct angle to have been produced by the sun location as implied by the Oviraptor's shadow.>>
I believe you are picking nits here, Ray. The shadow of the wrist may not be painted to perfection, but it is being cast on an upslope. The animals are all depicted as fully illuminated unless they are in the shadow of a dune. The angle of the sun is way less than 30 degrees in the rest of the picture. Also, you have to consider that this is a wide-angle panorama. I have painted numerous moonrises and this looks great to me. Since the moon is already up, the time is a day or two before the absolute full moon.
<< What say you paleo painters out there? Should the best science prevail in all phases of dinosaur-containing works of art for scientific institutions, or, are certain 'artistic liberties' O.K.? >>
Artistic license is what you are going to get, since the perfection you seek only exists somewhere in your imagination. The great diorama painters like Perry Wilson and Lee Jaques constantly twisted reality and added their own design formulas to their works, and it worked gloriously. You only have to look at a landscape by Monet or Cezanne to question what is real or not or accurate or not
I'm reminded of two stories here. First is the Chesley Bonestell mural of the lunar surface that used to be at the Boston Museum of Science. Bonestell was a master of the art of angles you speak about, being a gifted architectural draftsman. Nearly everything he did was based on what something would look like from such and such degree of angle. Well he did this marvelous painting where all of this stuff was done to perfection. About 15 years after it was finished lunar exploration showed that Bonestell had made his mountains too jagged, not the rounded features we know are accurate today. The painting was literally ripped from the wall and damaged. The National Air and Space Museum is now planning to restore it, God bless 'em.
The other story is about Charles Knight. He was always getting some kind of static about his work. Osborn demanded that students should be able to take notes from the paintings. Everybody would have an opinion until the predisposed-to-hypernervousness Knight would throw a huge fit and plow ahead and get his own way and he did splendidly. I recently finished a project where there got to be too many "experts" painting for me and the work suffered. We should strive towards something, but I don't believe it should be perfection. DV