Early Fall In The Kaiparowitz: Utah, 80 Mya

Dinosaurs! And southwestern ones at that. The newly described species Talos sampsoni stalks hidden prey, while in the distance, a Parasaurolophus lumbers through the verdant foliage. Above, some of the deciduous trees, relatives of modern birches, laurels, and sycamores, are beginning to change color. It's a vibrant illustration of life in the Late Cretaceous period of Utah, as demonstrated by fossils recently found in the Grand-Staircase Escalante National Monument.

Originally, I was going to test my skills with an actual scientific illustration of the newly described Talos, just to see if I could, but I found myself very quickly frustrated by the lack of information about the fossil plants of the Kaiparowitz formation. All I could find was general genera, and no images of the species in question as found within the rocks. While information of the fauna was readily accessible, I found myself looking at a very vague background. So, I decided to aim for a more impressionistic image of the landscape, something akin to what Van Gogh might paint with a time machine, since it seemed like the best, and most dramatic option. (And, as far as I'm aware, nobody's really attempted an impressionist feathered dinosaur, though I could well be very wrong.)

I admit, I looked at images of the fossil to create this piece, as well as Scott Hartman's excellent skeletal restorations of Talos to get the shape right, but I made a few tweaks in the final shape for the sake of art (such as lengthening the tail). I based the plumage partly off the red-tailed hawks I see almost every day on campus, but also with a shout-out to the myth of Hephastion's automaton, named Talos, forged of Brass.

The painting itself is 14" x 18."

I should also note that if you have a particular dinosaur in mind for a painting, message me and we can talk about it. I really enjoyed making this painting, and would love to do more in the future.

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