Though I drew as a child and doodled in notebooks throughout school, I really came to art and illustration when I decided to winter over in Montana in my late 20's and learn to draw. There doesn't seem to be a proper term for one who principally draws--but this became my preoccupation between odd jobs and much time on my hands. From books handed me or trips to libraries, I was attracted to the 19th Century landscape painters--including Thomas Moran, Albert Berschadt, Frederick Church and William Turner and was especially interested in the role that field sketches played in their work. I made a concerted effort to follow their example for a few years, spending summers sketching in Yellowstone and especially the Sierra Nevada, places where I enjoyed hiking. The drawings, remarkably removed from any practical hope of financial prospects, had a real influence on the finished illustration that I did years later.
By the fates and inclination, I bumbled into Paleoart, somewhat prepared by a childhood enthusiasm in dinosaurs, an earlier stint as a geology student in college, a beginning competency with artwork and a notion that with images representing the distant past, much seemed to be going left undone.
Well before I was an illustrator, I recall hiking for a week in the Red River Gorge in eastern Kentucky during the winter. The trails often passed above and below high sandstone cliffs dusted in ice and snow under bare trees and green pines. At one spot on a bleak, cold day, I found a damp cliff wall at face-level that revealed distinct and minute layering of reddish sand sediments, with thin, intermittent layers of small, clear quartz pebbles in near single file, sometimes trailing to thin dribbles horizontally along the wall. The pebbles where as rounded as peas and of similar size in any particular layer, but the different layers made up of pebbles of slightly different sizes. it occurred to me the pebbles were stream worn, having tumbled the length of ancient Appalachian creeks and rivers, the size of the quartz pebbles some measure of the varying power of the water after rains and storm events that carried them to this place of rest. A record of familiar and present things, the overcast sky and the far sounds of rushing water in the ravines below--but of some 300 million years ago. I'd been a geology student for a while and could have been told this or read of it, but I came to this little realization right there on my own.
Days later, passing a dirt road in the same dreary weather, I noticed a small pool in the road, in which had collected an assortment of leaves resting in settled mud--and, as naive as it sounds, realized the little pool reflected the composition of the forest around it, the oaks, maple, hemlock and pine shedding leaves over the whole Red River Gorge landscape. Were the pool a fossil lens, exposed in a bleak desert cliff face of the future, it would speak of the place where I was.
Something of these observations and simple insights have guided my own approach to Paleoart. The work on this website was done hoping to show a very distant past in a way akin to how we see and experience the natural world today--at least as much as commissions and the expectations of others have allowed. The website is meant to inform and entertain, as well as show some of the development process of work that has come along and the finished result. The drawings, design and illustrations on this website were done over the last 30+ years while working with various paleontologists, museums and science writers on projects for books and exhibits, as well as for a few well-paying feature animations and some (not so well paying) personal projects of my own. The media include pastel, pencil, graphite dust, oil, ink and watercolor, as well as some printmaking techniques.