Its easy to forget that long before human evolution, dinosaurs roamed many of the same landscapes we enjoy visiting today. For a special project, the land artist David Popa has brought this prehistoric fauna back in the form of large scale portraits.
The three works were completed as part of the American artist’s involvement with the second season of Apple TV’s “Prehistoric Planet,” narrated by the nature documentary legend Sir David Attenborough.
One mammoth 100-feet-wide depiction of a T-Rex head bearing its teeth was composed on the red rock of a desert in Utah. Travelling far and wide, Popa also drew a Hatzegopteryx— most notable for its huge wings—on a remote island in Finland, where he lives.
Finally, a Triceratops appeared along the Jurassic Coast in Dorset, England, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and major destination for fossil collectors.
The ancient animals were drawn straight onto the land, incorporating the terrain’s natural textures into pictures that were made using organic materials like charcoal, chalk and earth pigments. Each work took up to 15 hours to complete.
“It looks like the skin of a Triceratops,” Popa told BBC News about the role of the earth’s surface in the works. “I didn’t have to do too much because it was working for me.”
Due to their expansive size, the portraits can only be seen in their entirety from above and have been documented by drones before they were inevitably worn away by the weather.
“We’re so used to seeing things on a horizontal plane,” Popa said. “But how many beautiful locations are there that look completely different from top down? There’s a limitless number of locations that look otherworldly.”
Popa is no stranger to making art in challenging conditions. Other examples of him working in the wild include a series of faces drawn with charcoal onto fragments of ice. These pieces were also highly ephemeral, although photos of the lost images have been sold as limited edition prints and 1/1 NFTs.