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Artist James Gurney to Give Talk on ‘How I Paint Dinosaurs,” Oct. 9 at Bruce Museum

Noted artist James Gurney in his studio.

The Bruce Museum is pleased to welcome renowned artist and author James Gurney on Tuesday, October 9, 6:30-8 pm, for the presentation of the Marianne Smith Memorial Lecture, “How I Paint Dinosaurs: Art, Science, and Imagination.”

Gurney will share the practical methods that he uses to translate a scientist’s understanding of an extinct creature into a realistic painting. A reception takes place at 6:30 pm; Gurney’s talk begins at 7 pm and will be followed by a book signing. The “How I Paint Dinosaurs: Art, Science, and Imagination” lecture is free for Museum members and students with ID; non-members $15. Reservations can be made at; please register in advance as space will be limited for both events.

Gurney’s career as an artist and illustrator began in the 1980s. He painted more than 70 covers for science fiction and fantasy paperback novels and worked on numerous assignments for National Geographic magazine, specializing in reconstructions of ancient civilizations and depictions of legendary voyages. He also created several stamp designs for the US Postal Service, most notably The World of Dinosaurs in 1996.

In 1992, Gurney’s masterwork, Dinotopia: a Land Apart from Time, was published. The book landed on the New York Times Bestseller List, and Gurney won many awards for his writing and illustrations, including the Hugo. Original artwork from the Dinotopia books has been exhibited at the National Museum of Natural History of the Smithsonian Institution and the Norman Rockwell Museum and has toured to museums throughout the United States and Europe.

James Gurney’s painting of Pelagornis, the largest-ever flying bird.

Throughout his career, Gurney has helped inspire emerging generations of artists and illustrators drawn to the fascinating intersection of science and fantasy. He has written two art instruction books: Imaginative Realism (2009), about drawing and painting things that don’t exist, and Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter (2010). These books are based on the daily posts on his weblog, Gurney Journey, for illustrators, plein-air painters, sketchers, comic artists, animators, art students, and writers. 

“Few artists have been able to insert real paleontological science into their art so masterfully as James Gurney,” says Kate Dzikiewicz, the Museum’s Paul Griswold Howes Fellow. “As a Museum of both art and science, the Bruce is delighted to be able to host someone who so fully embodies our dual mission.”

For more information about the Gurney lecture, please contact Kate Dzikiewicz at or 203-413-6747. For the complete calendar of upcoming special events and programs for youth, families, and adults, please see the online calendar at or call 203-869-0376.