A look at artist James Gurney's studio


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


  1. My name is Joshua Hartzler and I love dinosaurs, story writing and art work.

    I’ve been watching Dinotopia TV series, the movie and the animated movie.

    I’ve been observing them and as an artist their is something missing in the story.

    In my point of view I have belief that secrets can not be secrets at all. I’m not insulting anyone honestly. All I am saying is that I think Dinotopia should be discovered by the outside worlds. so that people from the outside worlds can visit the island study the dinosaurs and Dinotopians behaviors, talents and alot of stuff.
    They can show them the things they do and the codes. the outside world people can show them there behaviors, talents and alot of stuff too. they can teach them their histories in the past and their man made machines and stuff from the outside worlds and their churchs of christianity.
    and I think the dinotopians should visit the outside worlds and learn the things the people do there and there rules and holidays like easter, independence day, Christmas, Halloween, Valentines day, Thanksgiving and St. Patricks Day.

    that’s what I believe is new to the dinotopians and dinosaurs. they don’t know the things in the outside worlds because they have been on the island to long.
    I’m not trying to insult or push idea’s in someone’s throats.
    This is all my opinions and thoughts.

    I hope my thoughts interests you.

    Breath Deep, Seek Peace

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