Home of Stephen QuinnBiography of Stephen QuinnArtwork by Stephen QuinnCommissions with Stephen QuinnCreative Process of Stephen QuinnStudio of Stephen QuinnNews About Stephen QuinnEvents Featuring Stephen QuinnGuesbook of Stephen QuinnLinksMailing List for Stephen Quinn

Members Login

Artists For Conservation Flag Expeditions Flag

Steve's Flag Expedition will revisit the actual site of the American Museum of Natural History's Mountain Gorilla diorama in the Virunga volcanoes in Africa with the intent of documenting the changes that have occurred in the diorama and its painted background scene.
Find out more...

Stephen QuinnStephen C. Quinn   SAA, AFC Stephen Quinn
Wildlife Art, Natural History Dioramas

Step 1 - Diorama Field Sketch - Trap Pond cypress swamp
Sites are selected by the scientist advisor that suggest the prehistoric environment to be depicted in the diorama and an expedition/field trip made to the location where plein air paintings are done and specimens and reference data collected. This sketch, due to torrential rain, was done while sitting under the hatchback of my jeep while I was parked at the end of a boat launch.

Step 2 - Diorama Field Sketch - Battle Creek Cypress Swamp, Maryland
The paleobotanist identified modern cypress swamps as a contemporary ecosystem that suggests the same swamp habitat to be recreated in the diorama. Plein air sketches assist in establishing the color palette, composition and character of the landscape that will appear in the diorama background painting.

Step 3 - Preliminary Landscape Sketch
Using field sketches, data on prehistoric plant and animal life, and design directives, a preliminary sketch that suggests composition and identifies the plant types and animal placement in the scene is made.

Step 4 - Final Diorama Sketch
The final sketch is the result of approvals from all scientists and curators involved as well as the design team. The scene depicts a site above the arctic circle on Ellesmere Island as it would have appeared 50 million years ago.

Step 5 - Preliminary Diorama Scale Model
Based on all collected data, field and preliminary sketches, scientific and design direction, a scale model of the final diorama is built. This provides important dialog between scientist, designers and artists and is extremely useful in determining composition, animal behaviors and poses, lighting, and drama. The diorama team can work through all design changes in the scale model phase.

Step 6 - Diorama Fabrication
Once the scale model is approved production of the full-sized diorama begins. In the case of this prehistoric themed diorama, animals are researched and sculpted from fossil data. Likewise, botanical specimens are fabricated from fossil data. The background painting is rendered onto the curved surface while compensation for the visual distortion of the curve.

Step 7 - Completed Eocene Ellesmere Island Diorama
The completed diorama transports the viewer back 50 million years ago to a time in the earth's history referred to as the "thermal maximum". During this warm period the arctic was covered with temperate swamp forests and inhabited by the large hippo-like Coryphodon seen in the center of scene, a civet-like carnivore called Vulpavus, seen climbing a tree on the right, and a small prehistoric tapir at center. The ecosystem was so warm that it supported turtles and crocodilians, animals that, today, are associated with more tropical climates.

Step 8 - Habitat Dioramas - Art in the Service of Science
Quinn applies the same scientific disciplines that he has become accustomed to over his artistic career in natural history museum exhibition to his personal studio art.

Direct Correspondence to:Stephen Quinn
Stephen Quinn
85 Highland Place
Ridgefield Park, NJ
USA 07660
Tel: (201) 440-5652
  Worldwide Nature Artists Group
Email: stephencquinn@aol.com
Home Page: http://www.stephencquinn.com/
Stephen Quinn Stephen Quinn

All rights reserved. All images and text © Copyright  Stephen Quinn
Member of the Artists for Conservation Foundation www.natureartists.com.