Museum Employee and Professional Artist David Miller Brings Prehistoric Creatures to Life

By Colton Redtfeldt, Marketing Assistant

David W. Miller, American, b. 1957; Quetzalcoatlus, 2002; Oil and acrylic on illustration board, 16 x 12 in. Courtesy of the New York State Museum, Albany.

On a Thursday afternoon in October David Miller, the Museum’s Preparator, sat at his desk in the attic of Old City Hall and thumbed through the many binders full of his old paintings.

He was in search of a piece he had created many years ago. With each turned page he uncovered a new prehistoric creature like some sort of artistic archeologist. Every so often he would come across a work that piqued his interest and he would make a quick comment or two about its history.

Finally, he came across the piece he was looking for. It depicted the prehistoric flying beast Quetzalcoatlus as it soared above a North American forest millions of years ago. The piece, titled Quetzalcoatlus after the creature it depicts, was notable because one block away a reproduction was on display at the Lightcatcher building as part of the Museum’s exhibition Endangered Species: Artists on the Frontline of Biodiversity.

“I think it’s an effective drawing. The forced perspective re ally shows you the immensity of the creature,” Miller said as he mused over the piece. Getting the immensity of the creature was essential. Quetzalcoatlus, with an imposing 52-foot wingspan, was the largest flying animal to ever exist, after all.

Miller originally painted Quetzalcoatlus in 2002 for a book on Pterosaurs. The painting ultimately didn’t get published, however. In 2004 he took the piece to the Paleo Art Show at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, and the piece was awarded Best 2D Artwork.

Quetzalcoatlus isn’t Miller’s only painting depicting a dinosaur. In fact, much of his career as a professional artist has been centered around creating scientifically-accurate depictions of prehistoric animals. Read more