Friday, April 13, 2018

The Camptosaurus Challenge

Camptosaurus dispar skeletal by Scott Hartman
If any of you dear readers follow me on Twitter (@zmiller1902) or any of my blogger colleagues (there’s a handy list at the bottom of this post) you’ve probably seen at least a few entries in the hashtag Camptosaurus challenge. For the deets, check out David Orr’s two posts on this very topic and the deluge of paleoart that it inspired. You’ll see that I have two rather terrible entries—both were rush jobs—but I was determined to put something respectable together last night and I’m pretty happy with the result:

Camptosaurus dispar in anterior view.
 It’s not perfect, but significantly, it’s not terrible.

I used to draw all the time. And by all the time, I mean all the time. I would draw on whatever paper was within arm’s reach, using whatever writing implement was on-hand. I doodled on homework and, later in life, contract documents. I drew pictures for my wife, friends, and family. I drew dinosaurs and other prehistoric beasties for the most part, but I also tinkered with my own creative projects from time to time and I had designs to learn how to draw pin-up art. My “draw all the time” phase lasted from the time I could hold a crayon to April, 2011.

What happened in April, 2011? I developed a brain abscess.

Here's a WIP. I'm usually disappointed by how the inks turn out, but not this time.
For those who don’t know, a brain abscess is when bacteria (in my case, Streptococcus) gets into your spinal fluid and travels to your brain, where it sits on the dura mater, eating away at it until it gets to your brain at which point you’re screwed. They got to my abscess just in time, before it broke through, and I wound up in the Adult ICU with a tube coming out of my skull (to drain my spinal fluid) and a PICC line in my arm pumping me full of penicillin. I survived and had no physical impairments when I left apart from a tremor in my hands that comes and goes, but there’s a family history of tremor so it’s probably unrelated.

Camptosaurus dispar, V.1
I came out the other side fine except for one critical thing: drawing. It’s not that I suddenly couldn’t hold a pen or draw a picture, it was that I had no motivation for doing so. If you sat me down, gave me a pencil, and told me to draw a Triceratops, I would do it for you but I wouldn’t do it on my own. This change flabbergasted my parents and my wife and frankly they still talk about it. I’m still affected by it, but in the last couple years, I’ve been trying to get back on the horse, forcing myself to draw from time to time. It never sticks, but I’m hopeful that this #CamptosaurusChallenge will fix that.

Camptosaurus dispar, V.2
That picture up there took a long time to finish—probably an hour—but I’m very happy with the result, especially considering it’s an angle (anterior view) that I’m unfamiliar with. Maybe the most surprising thing, though, is that after almost exactly seven years of not drawing, I can produce something this good (and I’m not saying this is a good drawing, I’m saying it’s good for me). It proves that all that muscle memory is still intact and easily accessible. I have hope that this challenge will be the spark that reignites my love of drawing.

Oh, I guess I drew this for my wife for her birthday last month:

Halszkaraptor escuilliei in right lateral view.
It’s supposed to be Halszkaraptor, but I may have gone overboard with the fluff (blame Matt Martyniuk). This isn’t bad either but I’m not quite as happy with it as I am with the Camptosaurus.
Anyway, here’s hoping my next post features illustrations that I do my goddamn self.

And here's that list of folks you should follow on Twitter. I've also updated my Links of Interest on the sidebar--long overdue. If I forgot somebody, let me know and I’ll include you too. I’m going largely from memory and my memory is terrible. I'm far too lazy to post links to everyone's Twitter accounts, so you'll have to input these the old-fashioned way. You know, I might just make a new sidebar...thing...for Twitter. But later.

Andrea Cau: @TheropodaBlog
Andrey Atuchin: @AndreyAtuchin
Brian Eng: @GreyGriffon
Brian Switek: @Laelaps
Darren Naish: @TetZoo
David Hone: @Dave_Hone
David Orr: @anatotitan
Ed Yong: @edyong209
Emily Willoughby: @eawilloughby
Ethan Kocak: @blackmudpuppy
Gabriel Ugueto: @Serpenillus
Glendon Mellow: @FlyingTrilobite
Jaime Headden: @JaimeHeadden
Julius Csotonyi: @JCsotonyi
Mark Witton: @MarkWitton
Matt Celeskey: @clepsydrops
Natee Puttapipat: @Himmapaan
Raven Amos: @alaskanime
Scott Elyard: @notdeadorgone
Scott Hartman: @skeletaldrawing
Talcott Starr: @talcotts
Trish Arnold: @babbletrish
Victoria Arbour: @VictoriaArbour

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