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by Tony Campagna


TC: How did you originally get started in painting and sculpting prehistoric animals?

KC Iíve always enjoyed wildlife and landscape art. I wanted to work on ancient life but I didnít want to tackle it alone. I met Dr. Louis Jacobs through the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History and we hit it off real well. Since then, Iíve worked with Louis and his students on many projects. Theyíre really great folks and good friends.

Iíve always known I wanted to be an artist since I was six. When I was 18, I was accepted as a chemistry student at the University of Texas at Austin. But when I went to register, I stopped by the art department and the head of the department convinced me to enroll there instead.

I avoided art a few more years after graduation working as a designer in the advertising business. I finally decided I had to make a go of it to be happy. I really learned how to paint by apprenticing under my dad, Bill Carr. Now we work together quite a bit. I love working with landscapes and animals. Itís like being in control of your own world ; like setting up a stage or a movie set. Itís just what I love to do.

TC (I had the opportunity to travel to the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History last year and see Karenís murals in the University of Oklahomaís new museum. See Karen's article "How I Make A Picture" where she describes the creation of one of these murals.)

About your new murals - How did you go about maintaining details in a work that you knew would be enlarged to such lengths?

KC Maintaining detail is not as much of a problem as anticipating how much detail you need to show. You have to think of the mural as if you are painting it full size. Actually you are, itís just that you can only see a small area at a time close up.

I would never get done if I painted as much detail on a mural as I would a small painting. So I really approach it just like a conventional mural and make the same judgements.

TC Now that your murals are up and you have seen them at their full size is there anything you would change about them?

KC Itís wonderful seeing them up. You really donít get to see the work as it should be viewed until itís on the wall. In the future, Iíll make better decisions about small animals and their size if they will be close to the viewer. I may have to fudge between "real" size and relative size.

See a gallery of Karen's artwork. 

TC How much of your murals at OK show the animals at life size ? Not all of the animals are life size are they?

KC Many of the animals are life-sized. Of course in a painting, the size of the animal is perceived more than actual. Animals in the background arenít really "back there" but they appear to be large in the distance. If they were really scaled life-size, it wouldnít make any sense in the picture.

TC Under the third paragraph in your on-line bio it says that you created bronze dinosaurs. Where can they be seen and purchased?

KC You can see the bronze of "Glen Rose Chase" at : Dallas Museum of Natural History, Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, The Fukui Prefecture Museum in Japan, and Dinosaur Valley State Park at Glen Rose. The bronze weighs 75 pounds and depicts two animals : Pleurocoelus and Acrocanthosaurus. Several private collectors own one and there are still some in the edition of 25 for sale. If you are interested, you can contact Dr. Louis Jacobs at . There is also a picture of the sculpture at my website.

I am now casting a new bronze of T-rex. Itís nice and five have sold already. Itís a limited edition of 15.It can be purchased through Dr. Jacobs also.

TC Are dinos your favorite natural history topic to work on?

KC Iím lucky enough to work with some wonderful paleontologists and curators. I like wildlife, historical and landscape painting also. But dinos do seem to pay the bills. Itís great fun to puzzle out what they would have looked like and where they would have lived. I love the folks I get to work with and I enjoy it a great deal.

I currently have murals at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, Dallas Museum of Natural History, Dallas Zoo, Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, National Historic Trails Interpretive Center, Casper Wyoming (in progress), The Fukui Prefecture Museum in Japan, Exhibits by Texas Parks and the Wildlife Department in various parks.

TC Would you tell us about your upcoming and current projects? What animals or scenes are you creating next?

KC Iíll be painting Permian and Pleistocene scenes for the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History and the same for the Indiana State Museum. Iím not sure which animals will be involve yet. Iím working on a childrenís book with a March deadline about Acrocanthosaurus. Iím working on a book about horses with Louis Jacobs and Iím illustrating a little childrenís book on dolphins for Scholastic Press. I will be producing a Mastodon sculpture and I just finished a T.Rex. There are a few other things on the horizon too, but I donít like to jinx anything without a contract. I am also working with the Louis and Clark Museum in Missouri on historical images and I have a cover spread in the December 2000 issue of Scientific American magazine. (The mag image is on Karenís website as well.) One more thing: Iím working with Mike Polcyn and Louis Jacobs on some very cool reconstructions from ĎEin Yabrud . Ein Yabrud is a site in Israel. It contains a lot of nice material on Cretaceous marine life including the "snake with legs"Pachyrachis, and mosasaurs that still had legs. This is a great project and I hope to finish it up in 2001.

TC One more question about the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History. Is the museum selling copies of your murals in any shape form or fashion?

KC The museum sells canvases of the images and T-shirts. I think they plan to sell prints in the future.

TC Thank you for your time. Fans of the prehistoric await your next creations.




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