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Even the feared Arrowtongues are vulnerable to its swooping attacks.
Expedition | waynebarlowe
Bearing a huge, curved nasal-lance, they are almost playful in their methods of dispatching prey tossing their victims in mid-air from one to another until it is completely drained of fluids. I really like the shapes and patterns on orcas and that admiration found its way into this piece. It was an early idea to do an aerial painting — a tip of my hat to all the aviation art I enjoy so much. The Skewers were always meant to be something of a deus ex machina, descending nearly unseen from heaven to lift off some pathetic animal, only to vanish as quickly as they appeared.
A mostly solitary hunter, the arrival barloew its dark form upon the plains presages a short and furious pursuit almost always ending in the death of some hapless Thornback, Prismalope or Littoralope.
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I really wanted this creature to be big and threatening, my version of what might have evolved along T-rex lines on another planet. The notion that what we were witnessing on Darwin IV was the evolutionary equivalent to expeditiob late Cretaceous era on our own planet was never far from my mind. Solitary in their habits, these animals wander the mountain passes and high plains feeding upon the sub-surface bulbs of mountain flora.
During mating season the chill air is barlode with the sounds of their bugling, an eerie call created by the inflation an deflation of their antler-bladders. Upon encountering a rival, both Bladderhorns begin what can only be seen as an elaborate, if somewhat comical, ritualistic duel for dominance.
Nothing like a bit of comic-relief in an otherwise savage eco-system. What could be odder than a blue, bipedal animal with antlers? No question that I was thinking about elk here. Living exclusively in the dwindling pocket-forests of the planet, these roughly exedition creatures travel in small bands, communicating with bursts of sonar pings and following the movements of their prey, the small, quick flyers called Trunk-suckers.
Bearing piton-like forelimbs, gliding membranes and powerful ricochetal hind-limbs, the Daggerwrists are perfectly adapted for life experition the tree-tops. This is, perhaps, the signature painting and animal from the book, a painting that seems to appeal to the public. It is an intentionally iconic image of what was to become my favorite animal on Darwin IV.
There was to be no hair, no eyes or external ears. Faster and more agile, the Rayback can out sprint the Arrowtongue and, as a result, can tackle prey such as low-feeding flyers, young herd animals or ambushed Gyrosprinters.
Notable for its particularly unpleasant temper, Raybacks will charge virtually anything that gets too near as was proven with almost comic regularity many times during the expedition.
Not that I was aware of the project, as such, at the time; I had simply set out to do an alien wildlife painting. After all, I was the son of two natural history illustrators. It made all the sense in the world to continue in their tradition and do wildlife art. I just had to do it my way.
That was unquestionably the spiritual underpinning of this piece. Writing and illustrating a book about alien animals can be a tight-rope act. Spending the greater part of their lives dormant, these enormous creatures rise from the loamy soil to wander ponderously from one breeding ground to the next.
Like many huge animals on Darwin, the Grovebacks baflowe dependent upon a protein-rich food-source composed of tiny aerophytes, micro-flyers that sometimes darken the sky with their numbers.
Physical motifs, like the broad curves on the Groveback, were used repeatedly throughout the book to convey a sense of shared evolution the planet. Equipped with a hyper-developed set of halteres for balance, the flexible-bodied animal can turn on a dime eluding most predators with ease. As one of the last ones executed, this is pretty much where I was heading from the beginning, but the journey had taken on a life of its own.
If I had one thing to change about the physical rendering of expedigion paintings in the book, it is that I would probably not have worked on stretched canvas. With that said, I think this is the most successful of the canvas pieces, a painting where, for me, the composition and technical application of paint seemed most satisfying.
Sac-backs roam these featureless wastes, walking with their awkward, three-legged gait from one group of buried females to the next. At each harem they will stop to either share their sack-stored food with their inert mates through their extended proboscises or mate with them in one of the more bizarre procreation rituals on the planet. The weird region around the Amoebic Sea seemed to me to be the perfect place to push the envelope in terms of designing stranger creatures.
Also, when I began to conceive the Sac-back, I was nearing the end of my personal design odyssey and wanted to make sure that I had enough really odd creatures in the book. This creature is really an amalgam of biological principals: All artwork copyright Wayne Barlowe or its respective copyright holder. Do not use without permission.
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