Today we turn to David Krentz and a real shift from the more traditional palaeoart which has mostly been covered here. Until recently, David was best known for his dinosaur sculptures – hardly a rare medium, but one that’s barely made it into the pages of the Musings, but his work with moving pictures means he’s also been heavily involved in documentaries and even movies, not least being the director of the recent Dinotasia. I’m grateful to David for his time and the load of his art. As ever, the copyright stays with him and these images should not be reproduced or used without his permission.
How long have you been producing palaeoart?
If you mean how long have I been drawing prehistoric life, than I’d say from around 2 or 3 years old. I have kept some old books that I drew in the margins of, and they are dated to the early 70s. By Kindergarten I was in full force already. I saw the Marx playset and all I wanted to do was make clay dinosaurs. The teacher realized I was hopeless and did something very innovative. She took me aside and said “David, for one week you can make a giant display of dinosaurs with clay, and at the end of the week you tell the whole class about it”. When the week was over and I did my presentation I had found ‘my voice’ and also the power of sharing your knowledge and passions with others. Of course dinosaurs waxed and waned during my school years, but they were always my first love. I did know from around third or fourth grade that I wanted to make dinosaur movies though, and that never went away.
What first got you interested in dinosaurs and art?
For a lot of people its the first museum visit. Growing up in Winnipeg Canada we didn’t have any great skeletons in the museum, I didn’t see a T.rex skeleton until I went to college in California! For me it was books, movies and toys. I don’t know about an interest in art, it was never deliberate. I just wanted to get the images in my head down on paper or in clay (later with super-8 movies) in the best way possible. It was all self taught and never labored, just executed till it look good.
I’m my own worst critic. A lot of my stuff I can’t stand to look at. I’d say that my Gorgosaurus sculpture called “Judith” is my favourite (above). I created it when I was taking many liberties designing characters for the Disney Dinosaur movie. The piece was therapy. I’d come home after putting lips on Iguanodons and try my redeem myself with Judith. It was my first real attempt at a studied and serious sculpture. I tried to put all of my knowledge of motion and animation in it, because I felt that is one thing I could bring to the world of Paleoart. I’m also pretty happy with some of the digital models I did for Dinosaur Revolution and feature film Dinotasia (below).
Who is your favourite palaeoartist or piece of palaeoart?
Oh man…I hate this question. Sin of Omission and all that. I’d say the most influential would be Bill Stout…his book from the 80’s blew me away. I was hooked on Doug Henderson‘s work the second I saw it..he is no doubt my favourite artist. For sculptures I’d have to say Tony McVey. For all of these artists its hard to name a favourite.
Since I’m also in Dinosaur Movie guy I should name some of the most influential movies as well. King Kong would be seminal to my imagination. Star Wars ( I know..but there were dinosaurish creatures) for making me yearn to do THAT for a living. Phil Tippets Prehistoric Beast ( see…he worked on Star Wars!) completely set me on fire when I seriously considering learning film making. When Jurassic Park came out I was already a jaded-snob, and I’d still hold Prehistoric Beast against it. Don’t get me wrong, JP was a game changer, but I was just too critical in my early 20s to really let it move me.
What is your favourite dinosaur / archosaur?
Gorgosaurus, and I also love centrosaurs in general. Gorgosaurus/Albertosaurus is just plain sexy. Greg Paul is to blame for that. He made it look so appealing and athletic to me.
Is there any animal you would like to paint but have not?
Like a lot of PaleoArtists I’d have to say the answer changes daily. Some days I realize just how amazing a Deinotherium is and then the next a prosauropod takes my fancy.
What do you think is the most important part of good palaeoart?
Getting a personal relationship with the subject matter. If its a Hendersonian landscape I have a feeling that I’m in the scene hiding under a log an holding my breath. If its an isolated dinosaur against a white background or a sculpture than I’d say gesture (pose) and character. Its really important to get a sense of motion and weight and even more so to be drawn to the animals eyes. I don’t want to know what the animal is as much as I do WHO it is. I don’t care about the type specimen, I want character. I understand that maybe is not the most desired answer for a scientific subject yet that my point of view. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – to quote Saint-Exupery – ” If the sculptor has nothing but science his hands will have no art”.