In 1996, Storyworks magazine sponsored a national poster contest inviting school kids to portray an answer to the question "If the residents of Dinotopia came to your hometown, how would you welcome them?"
I selected the six winning posters out of hundreds that were submitted. The grand prize winners, it turned out, came from all across the USA.
The prize for each of the six winners was not only a signed book, but a chance to pose for a new Dinotopia painting. My original idea was to show the six kids riding around in a dinosaur version of a merry-go-round or carousel, maybe flying through the air with a blue sky background. That's my concept sketch above.
I asked them to find a parent or helper to set them up with a "Dinotopian" costume and to take a few dozen photos, facing to the right, and not looking at the camera. The photos were even better than I expected, and the costumes and expressions were really fun to work from.
It dawned on me, though, that it made more sense to show them on real dinosaurs instead of on a carousel. So I switched the concept when I did the final painting, a large oil panorama.
• Read about the experience of Kathryn Noel of Utah, who appears on the left
• Some of the reference photos, as well as the final painting will be part of the Lyman Allyn Art Museum exhibition "Dinotopia: Art, Science, and Imagination" opening on September 22.
• More about the exhibition on the blogs Lines and Colors and Underpaintings