Some thoughts on reconstructing prehistoric life.
Reconstructing prehistoric life through visual representation is not fantasy art. It is a considered approach towards representing the past, by combining artistic skill with scientific consultation, the purposes of which are to convey a better understanding of the possible life appearances of now long extinct organisms.
Prehistoric animals were once living, breathing creatures, just like extant organisms today, subject to environmental and ecological pressures, predator prey relationships, eating, mating and other intraspecific competition.
As such, it becomes important to understand the landscapes, plants, environments and ecology where these creatures lived. Likewise, we can look to living animals for a direction towards possible behaviour, herding, nesting, feeding and perhaps even colour.
However, the information required to restore prehistoric organisms to the point of photorealism is seldom available, and any attempt comes with the risk of imposing upon the subject an unjustified level of speculation.
My background in archaeological reconstruction has taught me to be cautious when depicting the unknown and unproven, and to err on the side of caution and not take unnecessary leaps of imagination.
When depicting much more ancient eras of time, I hope to distil an overview of my understanding of the prehistoric past, not through a single image but through a larger body of work, which offers an unsensationalised, considered and believable representation. Plausible reconstruction requires a certain level of ambiguity to embody the distinct difference between definite and probable.
This may change over time as our understanding of prehistoric life improves. Indeed, many of my early illustrations are now outdated, postures have been revised, nasal horns removed, new material has been found and feathers, where once assumed but not proven, are now understood to be the default integument for most small theropod dinosaurs. My art may be outdated, but this is good, for it demonstrates that science is moving forward.
Lastly, for those interested in my materials and techniques; I favour manual drawing and painting, using a digital component, if at all, only in the final preparation of the image. I work predominantly, although not exclusively in acrylic paint, stippled inks and graphite.
The basic information I have prepared to accompany the images in the gallery is just that; a brief breakdown and a little background information to convey to the interested viewer what they are looking at, my hope being to take them just a little further into the wonders of the past.
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