A while back an illustrator I consider a friend and mentor sent me an amazing birthday gift:
It's a mammoth by Carl Buell. Buell, you'll likely already know, is the greatest living painter of extinct mammalian fauna today. Because I'm a terrible indoor photographer, let's look at it the way it was intended.
I met Carl Buell online through science blogger Shelley Batts when I was working on my first commission for her blog banner almost 8 years ago. She knew Carl and I was new online and she introduced me to him, through Facebook I think.
When many illustrators were giving me very dogmatic advice about my career and best practices, Carl Buell was a balm. He speaks plainly, and from experience. The advice he gave me often went at right-angles to conventional wisdom. He's also funny and self-deprecating: even when he sent me the stunning mammoth print above, he asked if I wouldn't mind giving him honest feedback about the print quality so he could set-up some for sale if it was good enough.
There's a lot to say about the quality of his artistic and scientific skills: I'll need another post. I can say it surprised me to learn it was digital painting the first time I discovered that. The brush strokes feel natural. Perhaps it's because he and I are both originally analog messy-paint painters.
From time to time, Carl takes a break from online life. His portfolio site and Facebook page have been down for some time now. So I'm going to be selfish, here: I want a Carl Buell coffee table book. A big, giant, bound book filled to the brim with his gorgeous and important scientific illustrations, with a smattering of writing about the science and the accolades he deserves and frequently gets. I want it to be large and expensive looking and I want guests in my home to look at it as they enter the room, say "what's this?" and lose themselves for the next hour quaffing the wonders on those pages.
If any publishers are reading this, I'd be happy to help make a book a reality. And no, Carl doesn't know I'm writing this. If you're reading this Carl, I'd like to say I want to see a book published about you as your friend: more than that, I want to own one as a fan.
Grand illustrations demand a grand collection. We need to make this happen.
Since Carl Buell is on an online hiatus right now, hopefully busy as hell making wonderful new paintings, I will update this post in future and link to his portfolio sites and fan pages when they re-activate.
For now, for more of Carl Buell's work, check the following links:
- Link Love: Follow Carl Buell Through the Ages - by Carl Zimmer
- Every Tooth is Correct. Every Whisker is Correct. - by Ed Yong
- Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters - by Donald Prothero and Carl Buell, Amazon
- Return to the Sea: the Life and Evolutionary Time of Marine Mammals - by Annalisa Berta, James Sumich and Carl Buell, Amazon
- Rhinoceros Giants: The Paleobiology of Indricotheres - by Donald Prothero and Carl Buell, Amazon