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Woolly Mammoth ~ Time For Kids

MAY 10, 2013
Woolly Mammoth in NYC illustration, Time For Kids.
Recently I was asked to do the cover of Time for Kids.  The idea was, what if scientists were able to clone back long extinct species, such as the woolly mammoth?  The original request was to paint a mammoth in Rockefeller Center. 
A red light immediately went off with the idea of painting 100 tourists snapping cell phone pictures and having to paint all of that.  Before even sketching I asked why Rockefeller Center and what it represented.  The answer was that it should be a city, contemporary and it need not be recognizable.  Phew.
I could then ponder just what this might be.  I immediately thought of my giraffe in the city painting as the way this one might look.

The giraffe painting was one I did over several weeks, with almost 3 years of thinking about it and looking for the right alley.  The story of that piece is here...
Giraffe on Drawger
The reason I say this is my mammoth painting was made all the more easy by the fact that I had worked out and thought about the lighting a long time ago AND had done a cover of a mammoth a while back too.  The research and info about that helped me here.  I used the same basic head from that assignment and made a new body/pose.  The pose I was going for was that this mammoth is startled and does not know where to walk with a side-step.
The people in my mammoth piece was only hints of people with only ONE guy to paint.
The artwork is small and upon close inspection it's clear that while I may come off as a tight realist, I'm actually a brushy painter too.  I just paint small.  I've included some close up shots to show just how messy it all is up close.
I must mention that I always think of one of my college professors, Rudolph Zallinger, when I paint a dinosaur or Ice Age mammal.  Rudolph was a muralist who painted the famous "Age of Reptiles" for the Yale Peabody Museum.  He also painted the "Age of Mammals" and both were famous Life Magazine covers.  At the end of this article I'll include a video that discussed Rudy and his mammoth work...pun intended.  Rudy painted huge works.  I marvel at that prospect.  One of my first assignments as an artist was given to me by Mr Zallinger, a mural in the lobby of a building on west 37th street in NYC.  The mural assignment paid $3900 dollars and helped me pay for my senior year at Paier.
Finally, not long ago I was forced to begin wearing glasses to work.  I had not noticed how badly I needed them and viewed things near to me with a slight double image blurry quality.  Once I had the glasses on, I picked up several past paintings and felt ill.  What a mess!  So, I am please that I see better up close and can knock a painting out quickly AND have them look good as well.
I've worked for Time for years now.  I've done numerous covers, some run, some don't.  I've done all manner of international editions and worked for the kids' magazine too (years ago to a young AD named Edel.)
Time is always a pleasure to work for.  I think it just has a culture of nice that permeates the place, at least that's my take.
Original Mammoth sketch for a past assignment.

This is the kind of 'light valley' I was looking for. This reference seemed like a good place to put the mammoth but it also seemed dull.

I liked this haze and knew fully well that this haze would be my friend in not only making the background easier to paint by simplifying things, but would provide a nice back glow to set off the creature.

This is the background I used for my painting. The far away people with cabs and the fortunate "SCHOOL" marking in the street made a perfect setting.

This is a zoom in of the painting. Note the sloppy brushwork all over the place.

Another zoom in of the camera guy. This was another fortunate pair because though there are two, you only have one head and she's mostly behind him.

Bob Ross script liner. A must have brush.

A curious subheading that states; "In this illustration, an artist imagines a mammoth in the modern world" I like this primarily for saying that the illustration was created by an ARTIST. Funny.