Paleo-Science Artists; A Unique Blend

Don't you agree it's interesting how people follow certain paths in life to ultimately discover what they do best? In the case of artists who draw fossils and their interpretations of the once living beings, I find them especially fascinating! After reading several bios, I learned that many of them started as doodling young children often scolded in school for their paleo-scribbles. Some of them were interested in dinosaurs to the degree of obsession and it grew from there. Later, they went to school to be paleontologists, but after a dose of reality as to how many years of college it would require, they decided to take a detour in their paths. Others were artists first with an interest in natural science. They entered college to home in on their artistic skills subsidizing them with a combination of paleontology, geology and/or anatomy in order to accurately render prehistoric animals based on fossil remains. There are those who were influenced as young children by their parents, as in the case of natural history artist, Karen Carr. At any rate, many natural history artists or paleo-artists have thriving careers motivated by the passion to draw, paint or sculpt extinct animals as well as living species. Without their unique blend of expertise, we would sadly be left wondering what thousands of prehistoric animal's might have looked like in the flesh.

One consistency without a doubt that I discovered among successful paleo-artists is that they are a well educated sort who skillfully combine science, art and technology! I have featured five artists, all of which have websites linked below their write-ups so you can see more of their art, learn more interesting facts about them and even purchase their various products for the offering. You can also learn where their artwork may be publicly displayed or information about their traveling exhibits.


Josef Marovec
Josef Marovec
Precambrian Earth (4600 - 570mya)
Precambrian Earth (4600 - 570mya)
Cambrian Seascape (570-550mya)
Cambrian Seascape (570-550mya)
Plesiosaurus (Jurassic Period)
Plesiosaurus (Jurassic Period)
Wooly Mammoth  (Pleistocene Period 10,000 years ago)
Wooly Mammoth (Pleistocene Period 10,000 years ago)

Josef Moravec

Josef Moravec is an example of a paleo-artist who was fascinated with the prehistoric world since early childhood. It happened when he first caught glimpses of museum dioramas and reconstructed fossils. Visions of enormous sea creatures and landscapes uninhabited by humans containing giant dinosaurs captured his young imagination. Josef first began drawing dinosaurs at the young age of three and created his first oil painting at the age of ten.


Although formally schooled in graphics, he studied the “Old Masters” such as Leonardo da Vinci and Rembrandt. Clearly their influence can be seen in his beautiful works. Josef’s most important influence has been Czech paleo-artist Zdenek Burian, whom he has admired and studied from a young age. His abilities for painting prehistoric scenes with realistic renderings have been accomplished partially by his tireless studies in paleontology and anatomy. He’s a known master paleo-artist who can interpret skeletal remains, often incomplete, with detailed accuracy. His work is highly respected and receives praise from Natural History Museums throughout Europe and the United States.


Josef's work represents the entire range of the time scale. On his website there is the added bonus with detailed descriptions of the time period animals and other interesting facts depicted in his paintings.

The Flying Trilobite by Glendon Mellow
The Flying Trilobite by Glendon Mellow
Ammonite Form
Ammonite Form
Encrinurus Trilobite
Encrinurus Trilobite
Trilobite Boy with gargoyles
Trilobite Boy with gargoyles

Glendon Mellow

Glendon Mellow synthesizes art, biology and evolution with a high degree of creativity and imagination. He likes to paint fanciful and surreal images of Earth's earliest organisms on canvas and shale. Shale is an interesting choice of medium since many fossils are discovered within the earthly material. It results in an interesting authenticity to his paleo-art. Trilobites are among his most popular subjects to paint. They were one of Earth's first dominant complex organisms beginning as early as the Cambrian Period some 550 million years ago! As arthropods possessing a hard exoskeleton, they left an enormous amount of fossil evidence for scientists to study and a popular subject matter for natural history artists to render.

Glendon's inspirational statement taken from his website:

"Regard the resilient stony success of the legions of trilobite species waiting in the rocks."

"I can stand here, separated by 550 million years and look at this long dead animal and understand some things about it. I can imagine adventures for it. The absurdity of unimaginable time, and my eyes and hands crafting an image of a fossil still make me shake my head in wonder."


Emily Damstra
Emily Damstra
DEVONIAN AMMONITE
DEVONIAN AMMONITE
DEVONIAN HORN CORAL
DEVONIAN HORN CORAL
Indonesian Fish
Indonesian Fish
DEVONIAN GASTROPODS (SNAILS)
DEVONIAN GASTROPODS (SNAILS)

Emily Damstra

Since 2000, Emily's been involved with freelance science illustration full-time. Including Paleozoic fossils, she works on any natural science subject in a variety of media for various audiences and applications worldwide. Her work is very detailed and refined; something you might see in a science journal. She creates distinctive illustrations for businesses, individuals, publishers, non-profit, advertising and design firms. I first caught sight of her work while web searching information about horn corals when her heliophyllum, halli drawing showed up. I was mesmerized by the quality of her work and by never having seen a live rendition. Emily resides in the Great Lakes Region of North America.







One of Emily's latest: An Indonesian Fish

This is my most recent illustration - a watercolor and gouache painting of a newly described Indonesian fish. It is based upon the detailed descriptions, measurements, and (with permission) color photographs found in the 2010 paper by Gerald R. Allen and Mark V. Erdmann in the journal aqua: “Two new species of Calumia (Teleostei: Eleotridae) from West Papua, Indonesia.” As far as I know, it’s the only existing illustration of the species at this time.

Sean's personal bio from the Art Evolve website is not only interesting, but it's also a fun read about how his life path lead him to a paleo-art career. I thought for the purpose of this article it would be most entertaining to show it here in its entirety.

Hey, everybody! I’m Sean Craven and I have to confess that I’m not exactly sure how to approach this bio piece. See, in the past I’ve usually used these autobiographies as an excuse to either lie or tell deprecating truths about myself. But I’m trying to kick the habit…

I’m a writer, artist, and musician based in Berkeley, California, where I live with my spouse Karen Casino. I come from a blue-collar background and started working as a janitor and child-care assistant when I was thirteen and, with occasional breaks for education, I stayed in the workforce until my late thirties.

While I’m currently a full-time student, in the past I have made a living by writing internet cartoon scripts and my art has appeared in a variety of magazines. I’m also the art director and assistant editor of a small-press literary magazine, Swill. Right now I’m trying to find a way to make a living in some kind of creative capacity. My novel-in-progress is my main focus but I’m also trying to put my art out into the world. It’s all a gamble but hey. If you don’t play you can’t win, right?

I was lucky enough to have Maurice Lapp for my first art teacher. He had a classic approach to teaching art and everything I’ve got has its roots in what he taught me. Since those first lessons I’ve supplemented my education with classes in everything from botanical illustration to architectural perspective. But while I’ve studied a lot of the best current paleo artists, my scientific illustration and reconstruction techniques are self-taught.

Dinosaurs were the first real obsession I ever had; it’s interesting that I didn’t start trying to draw them until I was in my thirties, when I picked up a copy of Predatory Dinosaurs Of The World by Gregory Paul. This fit into a pattern – I’d find myself drifting away from my interest in paleontology only to run across some piece of media that captured my imagination and sucked me right back in.

When I was a small child, it was plastic dinosaurs. When I was in the fourth grade it was Robert Bakker’s Dinosaur Renaissance article in Scientific American. When I was a teenager, it was The Dinosaurs by William Stout, Bryon Preiss, and William Service. Then Predatory Dinosaurs Of The World. My most recent, and most serious involvement sprang from… Okay, it was the comic book Cavewoman by Budd Root. In the back of the comic he recommended Prehistoric Times magazine. I was intrigued, I got a subscription, and I fell in love with Tracy Ford's, How To Draw Dinosaurs column.

My first real introduction to the blogosphere came when Brian Switek of Laelaps used my Cambrian cartoon, first published in Prehistoric Times magazine, in a blog post.


I have two different approaches to paleo art. With one I start off with a good photograph of a mounted skeleton or a skeletal diagram. I figure out a pose, then trace the skeleton to fit the pose.

After that I flesh the animal out, basing my approach on as much research as is possible.


At other times, I prefer to work more loosely, drawing from my imagination.


In the future, I hope to bring these two approaches closer to one another, adding accuracy and detail to my imaginary drawings and adding life and flexibility to my more scientific pieces. I’m really thrilled to have been asked to join the Art Evolved crew and I hope you enjoy my efforts.

Karen Carr
Karen Carr
Anomolocaris 500mya (Cambrian)
Anomolocaris 500mya (Cambrian)
Mortoniceras Ammonite (Cretateous)
Mortoniceras Ammonite (Cretateous)
Dimetrodon & Edaphosaurus (Jurassic)
Dimetrodon & Edaphosaurus (Jurassic)

Karen Carr

Karen Carr is one of today’s most accomplished wild-life and natural history artists with many of her works spread across the globe. What shaped her amazing life’s work? Well, her father was an artist and sculptor, Bill Carr, and her mother was a scientist. Shake these two influences up in a blender and vwa-la, out comes a brilliant and talented science artist. In due course, she headed for college to study fine arts and subsequently took graduate courses in anatomy and business. With much respect, she apprenticed under her father for several years after she graduated.

Her most recent art projects include major illustrations for prestigious organizations such as the Smithsonian Institute, the Audubon Society, Random House, and Harper Colins. She has also authored and illustrated more than a half-dozen books for young readers. In addition to the institutions already listed, she has worked with some of the most prominent research organizations and scientific publications including The Royal Tyrell, Museums of Paleontology, Scientific American, Science, The Dinosaurs Society and more. You can also find her lecturing in the classroom about the transition to digital art which you can learn more about on her website linked below.

In addition to painting traditional style prints for various uses, Karen also paints large murals displayed on museum walls in North America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Some are massive in size up to sixty feet long depicting the actual size of giant dinosaurs. Her art is realistic and beautifully detailed with the use of rich tones.

When she's not painting or lecturing, Karen spends time with her family in the mountains of southwestern New Mexico where they enjoy horseback riding, camping, bird watching and other outdoor activities.

Jurassic mural stands two stories tall and 60ft long
Jurassic mural stands two stories tall and 60ft long
Early Humans Sharing Food
Early Humans Sharing Food

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Comments 44 comments

Fay Paxton 5 years ago

What a fascinating hub. I made a mistake and shared your hub with my grandson, now I have to spend tomorrow looking up all these fossils. arrrgh! :)

voted up/very useful


Fossillady profile image

Fossillady 5 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan Author

Fay, that is funny! Oh you're gonna have such a good time! Thanks for stopping by and give that grandson a big hug for me! Kathi


Mentalist acer profile image

Mentalist acer 5 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

I find these facinating artist's work just as important as the fossils the archeoligists find presenting a finishing touch on their discoveries,thanks for the excellent bios Fossillady.;)


b. Malin profile image

b. Malin 5 years ago

Your Hub also teaches us not to discourage our children because their ideas are different when it comes to Art...for look what they grown up to do! Science Art. What a wonderful Hub Fossillady, truly an enjoyable read and learning experience.


Fossillady profile image

Fossillady 5 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan Author

Hello Acer, You made an excellent point, how would the common man be able to interpret the fossil discoveries without the artists. Good to see you! Take Care!

Hello B., You have made yet another good point about our child artists. Give them some leg room even during school hours, or encourage them to use their artistic strengths to overcome other weaknesses. Thank you for stopping by! :o)


Teylina profile image

Teylina 5 years ago

Very good point about our kis, Malin. We know Fay is doing her part! Mentalist, we're on the same wavelength: their endeavors are, to me as a layperson, not only the 'finishing touch' but a much-appreciated one! Great hub, fossillady--again.


Doug Turner Jr. 5 years ago

I really like how some of these young artists put such a modern twist to their love of prehistoric life. They're helping to make ancient history hip for kids and teens.

Great topic.


Fossillady profile image

Fossillady 5 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan Author

Hello Teylina, thanks for taking an interest about our children artists related to the subject of my hub and science artists putting the final touch in the outcome of fossil discoveries. Much appreciated!

Hello Doug, Another point well taken! In recent years the subject of the prehistoric world has captured the imagination of kids and the science artists have been an important ingredient in that process! Thank for stopping by and good to see you!


tom hellert profile image

tom hellert 5 years ago from home

FL,

Great stuff a parade of pre-tertiary fun and frolic-

Great jobgreat pictures and commentary-Brings me back to fossil unting and College....and Mary Pat and Allison...

TH


always exploring profile image

always exploring 5 years ago from Southern Illinois

Hello Fossi, This is a great educational hub about our prehistoric times. I've always been interested in the people and the animals.. How we evolved... How the animals became extinct. Your pictures are amazing. I knew you loved the study of fossils.. Hence, Fossillady. Thank you my friend.


A.A. Zavala profile image

A.A. Zavala 5 years ago from Texas

The artist who uses shale as a medium, brilliant! It imparts a type of realism to the artistic depictions, and brings the fossils to life. My grandson uses different mediums out of necessity for his own creations, and I think he would enjoy this hub. Thank you for sharing.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

This is a fascinating and very enjoyable hub! The illustrations are wonderful. Paleo-art is so important – it’s a link to an invisible past. Thank you for sharing the information about the artists.


Fossillady profile image

Fossillady 5 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan Author

Hi Tom, glad it took you to a blast from the past! This stuff is right your alley! Thanks for stopping by!

Hi Ruby Tuesday, (that just popped in my head) Evolution is a fascinating subject, wondered about it since I was little! Thanks for stopping by as always!

A.A. I so agree, Fay (above) showed this to her grandson and he wanted to look up each and everyone of the animals the next day! Her reaction was arrrgh..lol! Take Care, Kathi

Hi Alicia, Good to see you, your comment "a link to an invisible past" is great! Well put, without the artists we would be blind not having a clue really what a dinosaur, trilobite or wooly mammoth looked like.


Chatkath profile image

Chatkath 5 years ago from California

Fascinating fossillady, I love the images and illustrations. I know this was one subject that always got my son's attention (which was not easy)- simply because it was all real stuff, at some point in time. It challenges the imagination to fill in the blanks, connecting to a time that we are still learning about...


Teylina profile image

Teylina 5 years ago

Doug, if you're following this, I gotta say that is a super point! Thanks for making it; maybe you got a whole new hub there--collaboration, anyone?


epigramman profile image

epigramman 5 years ago

...well like that Van Halen song - I'm hot for teacher - gee Miss K how did someone so gosh darn good lookin' get to be such a wonderful instructor like yourself - and this hub subject has it all - enlightenment, entertainment and education and your very own unique touch served up with excellent graphics and your world class research - yes, beautiful brainy women with a zest for life and a curiosity of a former life - my friend - you've got it all !!!!!!!!


Fossillady profile image

Fossillady 5 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan Author

Hello Chatkath, Kids certainly do gravitate to learning about life in the past. Their open imaginations allow them more than we adults. It's great that you found something to get your sons attention! How old is he now? Thanks for stopping by :o)

Hi EpiColin...lol, You certainly know how to flatter a girl...Not only have you complimented my looks(every woman loves that) but you build up my confidence!!! I really appreciate it!! I hope you have a relaxing evening! You might need a few extra blankets in this temporary winter flashback!


epigramman profile image

epigramman 5 years ago

...yes you're right Miss K - the gas furnace is blowing once again and my two cats are laying beside it because even they are confused whether it's spring or not ..... lol


Teylina profile image

Teylina 5 years ago

We're all confused about spring--even nature! Chief, so glad you came on and said it right! Wish I'd known somebody like her way back when-- You Are Truly Awesome, Fossillady!


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

Hi, so much talent to draw and have a love of fossils, amazing, thank you for all the great info, I love this, as you know, I am a bit partial to getting my hands dirty foraging for fossils! cheers nell


katiem2 profile image

katiem2 5 years ago from I'm outta here

WOW what an interesting read, I very much appreciated your Paleo Artist a unique blend of artistry indeed. Well done! :) Katie


Fossillady profile image

Fossillady 5 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan Author

Hey Colin, today's weather isn't much better, looking forward to one day this week of Spring-like weather on Thursday!

Thank you for the generous comment Teylina!

Hi Nell, I'm glad you enjoyed it! Have you found any fossils lately? I usually find them in the summer on the beach, but sometimes right in my yard! Take care my friend!

Hi Katie, nice Libra gal, I think it would be a great career to do what they do! Thank you, as always! Hope everything is great with you!


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 5 years ago from The Beautiful South

What a great hub with so much work put into it, thank you so much!


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

Hi, Not yet! lol but still looking!


prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 5 years ago from malang-indonesia

Kathi, you always bring something beautiful and educated with us. I learn much from you. Thanks for include my country Indonesia (One of Emily's latest: An Indonesian Fish). I had never knew about this before. You complete this with stunning pictures to describe this topic. I'll show this to my student. They'll love this information as well. Well done, my friend. You deserve to get my vote. Have a nice weekend!

Prasetio:)


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 5 years ago

You really shine with all you do. You have the eye for pictures and the heart and head of a great writer. Thank your dear.


Fossillady profile image

Fossillady 5 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan Author

Hi Pras, That is very cool, students love the topic of dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures! I'm glad you'll be showing this to them! Wow! The Indonesian fish is a newly discovered species and your students will think that is cool too. Do you have any rising artists in your class? I bet you're a great teacher that students love! Take care of yourself, I know how much hard work teaching requires!

Hi Micky, Your generous sweet comment makes me feel all warm and fuzzy! lol! Right back attcha!


toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 5 years ago

Wow, this was an absolutely great hub! I am in awe about these artists. How many times have I seen renderings like these and never gave a thought to who was drawing them. This was fascinating, educating, and enlightening. Such worthwhile read, as are all your hubs. Thanks for sharing your knowledge. Rated up, beautiful, awesome, and useful.


Fossillady profile image

Fossillady 5 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan Author

Hi TK, let me just say you appreciate the interesting stuff in this life! Isn't it the truth how we don't think about who created the artwork you see of prehistoric beings! Always appreciate your comments!!!! :o)


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 5 years ago from The Beautiful South

Too bad most of my obsessions was boys.....lol...J/K


Fossillady profile image

Fossillady 5 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan Author

lol!! I know what you mean Jackie!


Alladream74 profile image

Alladream74 5 years ago from Oakland, California

What a wonderful hub! definitely bookmarking this.A definite resource for artistes.I am glad Epigramman referred me to your hub


Fossillady profile image

Fossillady 5 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan Author

Hi Alladream, the Epigramman is a good match maker, I'm so glad to meet you! Thanks for stopping by!


Alladream74 profile image

Alladream74 5 years ago from Oakland, California

You are most well come. I enjoy your hubs so its such a great intor for me.


Fossillady profile image

Fossillady 5 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan Author

Aah, that is very sweet, its time for me to check out your your hubs too!


badegg profile image

badegg 5 years ago from Southern Appalachians

That is so cool! i used to look at all of these types of pictures as a kid...never dreaming that paleo-science artistry was such a great career. I used to sit for hours drawing dinosaurs with my friends. Thanks for sharing, Kathi!


Fossillady profile image

Fossillady 5 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan Author

Hello badegg, well I hope you kept some of those drawings! It would be fun for you to dig them out and bring back some good memories. Thank you for stopping by today! Cheers


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

What an absoloutly fascinating hub.

Thanks for sharing and take care

Eiddwen.


Fossillady profile image

Fossillady 5 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan Author

Thanks for stopping by sweet lady!! Have a great day,I already know you will! :o)


Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 3 years ago from East Coast, United States

Hi Fossil - I don't imagine there are a lot of jobs out there for actual paleontologists. Becoming a paleoartist but be a great compenstion. Unless, of course, you are really an artist with an interest in illustrating things that no longer exist. What a cool hub! I love the pictures!


Fossillady profile image

Fossillady 3 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan Author

Hello Dolores, thanks for stopping by today! I appreciate your comment and hope you have a wonderful day! Kathi :O)


midget38 profile image

midget38 3 years ago from Singapore

Wow, these folks sure do interesting work....and it is surely a unique combination of interests! Thanks for sharing, Kathi!


Rod Rainey profile image

Rod Rainey 3 years ago from Louisville, KY

This took my breath away and took me back. I was one of those kids; dinosaurs were THE first things I tried to draw and are still a dear subject to me.

Fabulous hub! Bursting with awesomeness. Thank You


Fossillady profile image

Fossillady 3 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan Author

Thank you Michelle, what they do sure isn't common place. They have exiting careers and interests indeed. Hugs, Kathi

Hi Rod, that's great how you could relate to the paleo-artists and that it took you back a few years! Thanks for the lovely comment

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