A look at artist James Gurney's studio

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Dinotopia creator James Gurney was recently featured in ImagineFX magazine. He was asked to describe his studio.

“I specialize in painting realistic images of things that can’t be photographed. My imagination only takes me so far, so I sculpt 3D reference maquettes. In the foreground is a butterfly ornithopter, an elf alien, a BoarCroc, and a satyr.

The day starts with a few cups of strong coffee, or sometimes tea from the pot I found on a research sketching trip to North Africa in 2008. Not all of my sketching junkets are so exotic. I also sketch in fast-food parking lots and farmyards. Some of the oil sketches on the back wall are from observation. The cloud study was painted on a July day. The two head studies come from a figure drawing class.

Beyond the Aladdin’s lamp is a set of dip pens. I began my art life as a calligrapher, and I still love to write letters in the Copperplate style. Maybe it’s a reaction to the blandness and transience of email.

The human skull on the counter is a drawing aid and a memento mori. Behind it are architectural maquettes made of cardboard and Styrofoam. The hand-painted color wheels and optical illusions are for my upcoming book called Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter, a companion volume to Imaginative Realism.

The dinosaur painting is surrounded by skull photos, sketches, and a reference maquette. The premixed strings of oil colors on the freezer paper palette help me control the mixing gamut of the color scheme I want.”

James Gurney Studio Shot in ImagineFX