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Born in 1958, James Gurney is the creator of Dinotopia, both authoring and illustrating the four central books Dinotopia: A Land Apart from Time, Dinotopia: The World Beneath, Dinotopia: First Flight and Dinotopia: Journey to Chandara. Gurney has illustrated backgrounds in animated films such as Fire and Ice ('83), illustrated covers of over seventy books and illustrated several articles for National Geographic magazine. He won the Best of Show award in the 1989 World Science Fiction Convention. He has a wife Jeanette, who is an artist, and two sons Daniel and Franklin.

His official website is JamesGurney.com and his blog can be found at Gurney Journey.

biography/background

James Gurney is the artist and author best known for his illustrated book series Dinotopia . He specializes in painting realistic images of scenes that can’t be photographed, from dinosaurs to ancient civilizations. He is also a dedicated plein air (outdoor) painter and sketcher, believing that making studies directly from observation fuels his imagination. 

Born in California in 1958, the son of a mechanical engineer, he taught himself to draw by reading books about the illustrators Norman Rockwell and Howard Pyle. He studied archaeology at the University of California at Berkeley, receiving a degree in anthropology with Phi Beta Kappa honors. Prompted by a cross-country adventure on freight trains, he coauthored The Artist’s Guide to Sketching in 1982. During the same period, he worked as a background painter for the animated film Fire and Ice, co-produced by Ralph Bakshi and Frank Frazetta.

His freelance illustration career began with paperback book covers, where he developed his characteristic realistic renderings of fantastic scenes, often using posed models and handmade maquettes for reference. His has worked on more than a dozen assignments for National Geographic magazine, painting reconstructions of Moche, Kushite, and Etruscan civilizations. The inspiration that came from researching these scenes of ancient life led to a series of lost world paintings, including ”Dinosaur Parade” and ”Waterfall City .” With the encouragement of retired publishers Ian and Betty Ballantine, he committed two years’ time to writing and illustrating Dinotopia: A Land Apart from Time , which was published in 1992.

Solo exhibitions of his artwork have been presented at The Smithsonian Institution, The Norman Rockwell Museum, The Norton Museum of Art, The Delaware Art Museum, and other venues. He is a popular lecturer at art schools, movie studios and game companies, and he teaches occasional workshops. His most recent book, Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter (2010) was Amazon’s #1 bestselling book on painting for over 52 weeks and is based on his daily blog Gurney Journey.

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