More Art, Plans for the Blog, Cameroon Voyage

I’ve been painting a good deal more than I have been writing, to my regret. But the writing is coming back to me, thanks to some writers groups I have been a part of or leading for years.

At least I'm enjoying the artistic results.

At least I’m enjoying the results of painting.

The blog is going to have more musings, sharings, rants, and oddjob add-ons in general. A little bit of everything. Which might sound eccentric, but I’m a painter now and like Bob Ross said, “Us painters are supposed to be a little weird.”

That goes for writers, too. Oh, terrific. Now I’m doubly crazy.

Crazy like a Triceratops. Who writes.

Crazy like a Triceratops. Who writes.

Additionally, I have set a goal to voyage to Cameroon sometime in the near future. Ideally, I will be ready to travel within one year. It would be partially for researching a novel, partially for exploration, and partially for missionary/material aid efforts. Not looking forward to the humidity and heat of Central Africa, but there’s a lot that’s drawing me to that country in particular. I’ll comment more on that in a future post.

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New Paintings, and I Got Interviewed!

"Budding for Spring." 4 x 6 inches.

“Budding for Spring.” 4 x 6 inches. Done as a birthday present for my wonderful mom.

Good morning everyone! I have a couple of new acrylic paintings to share. Sorry I haven’t gotten much writing done, but that’s changing this afternoon, God willing. There’s stories to be finished in them there hills.

In other news, I got interviewed about my artwork by the New Falcon Herald, a local newspaper. The article should appear in their April edition. It was a very welcome surprise, and will hopefully lead to more commissions. Might even be able to support myself with the artwork, sooner or later!

"Sentry." 4 x 6 inches

“Sentry.” 4 x 6 inches. Donated to Crosses for Losses.

I am also working on a fourth science fiction story for Amazon Kindle. It’ll be the fourth episode of the Arrivers series, which is made up of the three stories on my Author’s Page now.

Happy Friday everyone!

If Bob Ross Visited Jurassic Park…

The result might look something like this. “Evening Drink,” acrylic on black mat board, 8 x 10 inches.

The dinosaur is a Parasaurolophus, a duckbill or "Hadrosaur" from North America.

The dinosaur is a Parasaurolophus, a duckbill or “Hadrosaur” from North America.

Obviously I don’t mean I can paint half as good as Ross. That would take several lifetimes and a lot more patience. It’s just the kind of style he often did in his paintings, with a diluted light source, trees, and a waterfall. Ross would probably hide behind the happy little trees when the happy little Velociraptors broke loose.

Forgive me for disappearing for such a long while and not having much to contribute. I have managed to get some more paintings finished and shared with other people. This is the painting I am most satisfied with, so I wanted to share it with you (and I’ve spammed Facebook with it enough).

Anyway, I will be returning to this blog when possible. Instead of ruffling more feathers than I already have, I’m going back to basics: share my writing and paintings, and talk with all of you. It’s been a roller coaster year for me, but let’s see if we can get this blog back on track. Thank you all for your patience, and may God bless your new year with incomparable riches.

“Hobbit” review and my new artwork

Greetings, everyone! The last couple of months have been more hectic than an ant colony that just found a spilled can of Mountain Dew, but things are going pretty well. I got to see The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug last week, and all I can say is…wow.

Okay, I can say a little more. It’s brilliant. The first film’s weaknesses (which were mostly negligible) are pretty much gone this time around. The story moves at a faster pace, even to the point of feeling too short. The characters have many chances to shine (and in the “barrels on the river” scene, Bombur has a moment of glorious hilarity). Tauriel and Legolas may not have been in the book, but who cares when their perspectives add so much to the tale?

And of course, there’s the dragon. Smaug is very much the star of this movie. He’s so cool-looking, and makes an incredible villain — simply put, he’s a work of terrifying art. Not only is he the best dragon ever put on film, but this is the greatest dragon movie ever made. Move over, Draco and Vermithrax.

Seriously, go see it if you haven’t already.

———————

Oh, and there’s also some new artwork I have been doing. Mini canvases and acrylic paints are godsends, because they give an aspiring artist the chance to try out many techniques and have a finished work sooner. They’re a good way to build up one’s portfolio. I’ve even got clients.

If you asked me six months ago if I’d have clients paying for artwork ($10 for the mini paintings, for the moment), I would have laughed you off. Life holds many good surprises; I’m just trying to process this one.

Ceratosaurus.

Pikes Peak. When you think about it, this is Colorado’s “Lonely Mountain.”

The mini paintings also make neat Christmas ornaments!

The mini paintings also make neat Christmas ornaments!

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"Desert Hog," done as a Christmas present for a friend who kindly gave me some new art supplies.

“Desert Hog,” done as a Christmas present for a friend who kindly gave me some new art supplies.

Of course, it's me, so I've got some dinosaurs done, too. From left to right: "Primal Colorado" and "Tyrant."

Of course it’s me, so I got some dinosaurs done, too. Left to right: “Primal Colorado” and “Tyrant.”

I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year.

Two of My New Paintings

After a four year hiatus, I am finally taking up some painting, in addition to my sketches and writing. Thanks in no small part to Bob “Happy Trees” Ross and James Gurney of Dinotopia fame, I’ve been inspired to take up the brush once more. After some practice I’ll even start selling paintings, but for now I’m still experimenting.

The two projects I have at the moment are below. You can click to enlarge the pictures. Both are acrylics painted on thick card stock, 5 inches by 7 inches.

Trees and boulders. Not as good as I hoped for, but it's my first attempt for a long time. Hopefully I'll get better.

Trees and boulders. Not as good as I hoped for, but it’s my first attempt for a long time. Hopefully I’ll get better. Took about 3 hours to do.

A very incomplete picture of snow-draped peaks. Rather fitting, given the first snow of autumn showing up today.

A very incomplete picture of snow-draped peaks. Rather fitting, given the first snow of autumn showing up today. It will be completed soon. So far it has taken about 2.5 hours.

Hope you all have a wonderful day! 🙂

-John

Tarbosaurus Carnage: From the Optimistic Painter

One of the best Tyrannosaurid paintings I have ever seen. Great work from the Optimistic Painter.

This is why we have to bring dinosaurs back to life. The world needs this awesomeness to rise again!

The Optimistic Painting Blog

It’s been a few months since I did a painting for Dave Hone’s paper on selective feeding behaviour of tyrannosaurs. When Dave first approached me I have to admit I was looking forward to painting some dinosaur carnage. Instead the paper was about a Tarbosaur delicately nipping stuff  it had found lying around, so I had to satisfy myself with a quick and dirty scrawling of reptilian mayhem….

Until now.

click for enbiggenment

I think the title is self explanatory.(must resist explaining) Sanja found this one a little uncomfortable to look at, especially the look in the poor Saurolphus’ eye….. not a good place to be.

When Dave’s paper was released much of the media jumped all over it as if it was all about Tyrannosaurs exclusively scavenging. So I thought I’d do my bit to tip the scale, at least artistically.

Luckily a bit of science came out…

View original post 149 more words

Feathered Dinosaurs: Vigilance and Room for Artistic License

I’m going to say this right up front: We have found dinosaurs with feathers. That’s a confirmed fact. Small carnivores make up most of the species with this particular trait. Velociraptor had quill knobs on its arm bones, which served as points where long feathers attached. Microraptor had four fully developed wings. Others were covered in what looks like a downy covering, possibly for insulation. There’s even a medium-sized Tyrannosaur with down on its hide (although I think T. rex in particular has been found to have scales instead, and any addition of feathers is pure speculation).

But as I look over the blogosphere and hear the words of fellow dinosaur fanatics, there arises a hysterical cry that scaly theropods (carnivorous dinosaurs), especially raptors, should be tarred and…well, feathered. Fictional treatments of dinosaurs in books, movies, and TV shows are practically burned in effigy if a small carnivore shows up naked (scaly). Tyrannosaurs and allosaurs and abelisaurs can be tolerated without down or full feathers, but God help you if there’s a Deinonychus or Ornitholestes that isn’t fuzzy.

Notice that I said fictional. As in, stories told for entertainment, which are often known for fudging scientific accuracy. That should be expected and understood, even when the creators try to be accurate. This gets you about as far as saying “You can’t hear explosions in space!” We already know that. Now are you going to sit down and watch Star Wars, or do I have to ask you to leave?

I kid you not, one unpleasant man insisted to me that the scaly Velociraptors of Jurassic Park were “abominations” even though their only crime is being outdated. Let’s get something straight, Jurassic Park was released in 1993, at which point any feathered raptors were speculative. The quill knobs on this species’s arms were examined in a paper published in 2007. Call me nuts, but “abomination” doesn’t quite fit.

Yes, he’s a real menace to scientific accuracy. You can see it in those knowledge-hating eyes.

To make matters worse, I’ve seen these self-important, melodramatic bloggers getting upset about episodes of Doctor Who and Terra Nova because they do have feathered dinosaurs, but they’re not “feathery enough.” Why count your blessings when movies and TV shows aren’t furthering your cause as hard as you want them to?

Allow a little artistic license. Come on, people know they’re not looking at real dinosaurs. The Doctor isn’t riding a real Triceratops, and Stephen Lang isn’t shooting an actual Carnotaurus. By all means, correct a museum display that shows a Deinonychus without a scrap of feathers on its skin, because that’s meant to be a scientifically accurate reconstruction. But even then, don’t lose your temper. That’s just childish.

And for the love of everything sacred and holy, stop telling me that dinosaurs had “denser” feather coatings than modern birds. That’s a little hard to establish when you point to feathers on (gasp) a dinosaur’s ankles. And when all you’ve got with dinosaurs is feather impressions in the rock…how do you know the coating was denser than on birds? This is pseudoscience at its finest, folks.

Bloggers and paleontologists, listen. I know you’re tired. You’re tired of people whining “Don’t take away my scaly raptors and replace them with foofy little peacocks with teeth!” I know you’re tired of creationists insisting that Microraptor was nothing more than a weird bird (I don’t even know that much anatomy, and even I can tell you that’s false). I know you specialize in the cutting edge discoveries of dinosaur paleontology, and a lack of feathers can be aggravating.

Nevertheless, seeing this aggravation bleeding out into long-winded rants about how important feathered dinosaurs are can get very tiresome. A raptor without feathers may be scientifically inaccurate, but it’s not a threat to scientific literacy. It’s just outdated. Don’t try saying “feathered dinosaurs are more beautiful,” either, because beauty is subjective, and some people just find a scaly raptor more badass. Too bad. Just because you have the benefit of scientific evidence doesn’t mean you can be a jerk to someone who likes scaly raptors better.

Yeah, that’s pretty cool. Image taken from Wired Magazine.

Eventually the public will come around and find feathered raptors “cool.” Don’t expect that to happen anytime soon, however, when you’re doing more whining than they are.

UPDATE: I would also like to point out, just for the heck of it, that many of the same anatomical features on Microraptor that identify it as a dinosaur (lack of a beak, teeth set into the jawbone, large antorbital fenestra, etc.) are traits shared by Archaeopteryx. For this reason, I place Archaeopteryx within the Dinosauria, rather than call it a full-fledged bird.

ADDITIONAL UPDATE: I think it’s more likely a given theropod was feathered if it was in a colder climate, such as the Antarctic Cryolophosaurus, Canadian Ornithomimids, or the Mongolian Tyrannosaur Yutyrannus. In warmer climates, they might simply not need them.