Dinotopia: Lost Island and Forgotten Civilization: An Extraordinary Place Where Humans and Dinosaurs Live in Harmony Comes to Life in This Enchanting Exhibition of One of the Country's Foremost Fantasy Illustrators

USA TODAY, May 2006 | Go to article overview

Dinotopia: Lost Island and Forgotten Civilization: An Extraordinary Place Where Humans and Dinosaurs Live in Harmony Comes to Life in This Enchanting Exhibition of One of the Country's Foremost Fantasy Illustrators


FROM THE SOOTHING, restorative environment of Waterfall City to the hidden wonders of Chandara, acclaimed author and illustrator James Gurney's magical Dinotopian world comes to life in an enchanting exhibition that features 44 original oil paintings from the best-selling illustrated books, Dinotopia: A Land Apart From Time (1992) and Dinotopia: The World Beneath (1995), as well as a preview of several never-before-seen works from the much-anticipated upcoming installment in the series, Dinotopia: Journey to Chandara. Moreover, fascinating examples of the illustrator's creative process, such as preliminary studies, reference photos, and handmade scale models also are on display.

Inspired by archaeology, lost civilizations, and the art of illustration, Gurney's Dinotopia, an extraordinary place where humans and dinosaurs live in harmony, fuses fantasy with realism and scientific accuracy. "The thing I love about dinosaurs is that they are on that balance point between fantasy and reality," Gurney explains. "It might be hard to believe that mermaids and dragons really existed, but we know that dinosaurs did--we can see their footprints and skeletons but we can't photograph them or see them, except in our imagination."

The Dinotopia storyline chronicles the adventures and remarkable experiences of Prof. Arthur Denison and his son Will on Dinotopia, a mysterious "lost" island inhabited by dinosaurs and shipwrecked travelers. This faraway land--wholly the product of Gurney's fertile imagination, scientific knowledge, and meticulous artistic ability--is a civilization like no other. The society has its own language, alphabet (dinosaur footprints that correspond to each letter of the Roman alphabet), colorful festivals, and parades. The lively cast of characters includes the inquisitive Prof. Denison; Will and Sylvia, the adventurous young Skybax riders-in-training: the devious curmudgeon Lee Crabb: the beautiful musician Oriana Nascava; and a multilingual, diplomatic Protoceratops named Bix.

As a young boy, Gurney found it difficult to acquire books on dinosaurs, a subject that always captivated him. …

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