Archive for June, 2012

The San Diego Zoo Murals – Party Twenty Two

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

Too wiped out to post last night. I painted 14 critters in the Pleistocene mural yesterday; my goal is 21 today.

Above is my revision of the young American mastodon (Mammut americanum)/grizzly bear (Ursus arctos) confrontation. They are much less stiff and more lively and rhythmic in their poses now (The inclusion of the scientific names is doing double duty here, as I have been asked by the San Diego Zoo to ID all of the animals in each mural). Their scale is better, too.

The birds in the soon-to-be-sycamore, from left to right, are the common flicker (Colaptes auratus), shrike (Lanius ludovicianus) and a band tailed pigeon (Columba fasciata). All of the creatures that were depicted in the modern mural are in the Pleistocene mural as well, and in roughly the same corresponding spots (which took some careful planning).

I detailed the hawks I had previously roughed in up in the left hand sky portion of the mural. From left to right, they are the prairie falcon (Falco mexicanus), the marsh hawk or northern harrier (Circus cyaneus), the sparrow hawk or American kestrel (Falco sparverius) and the rough-legged hawk (Buteo lagopus).

The raven (Corvus corax) got laid in and painted…

…as did a western spotted skunk (Spilogale putorius). I noticed that the placement of the skunk had created a bad tangent, creating the possibility that viewers might think the skunk is riding on the ground sloth’s back. I fixed that yesterday.

After removing the western horse (Equus occidentalis) that was slightly overlapping it, I added more detail to the western camel (Camelops hesternus).

The jaguar’s freshly killed black-tailed jackrabbit (Lepus californicus) finally found its form.

The long tailed weasel (Mustela frenata) made it in but I see, after comparing it to its modern mural counterpart, that I need to add more facial detail — which I did, as you’ll see in my next post, on the following day.

I worked on four things here. I detailed the snout of the Harlan’s ground sloth (Glossotherium harlani), painted the mourning dove (Zenaidura macroura), added more focus and drawing to the buck mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) and, as the final light of the day was fading, I quickly laid in the badger (Taxidea taxus).

Most of my work that day was on the left third of the painting (seen above). I see I forgot to include a detail of the male and female California quail (Lophortyx californicus) located above the rump of the giant jaguar (Panthera onca); I’ll post it tomorrow.

My next posting will reflect even more changes and refinement as I race to make my deadline.

The San Diego Zoo Murals – Part Twenty One

Monday, June 4th, 2012

I got some stunning news from the San Diego Zoo this last weekend. I was informed that due to the nature of their contract, my two murals need to be completed by Friday, June 8 (!).

You are going to see some fast painting here (and a post each day) as I try to meet this near impossible deadline. Wish me luck!

I decided to paint some quick lay-ins of the Pleistocene mural’s birds of prey. Note that I “draw” these in paint; I don’t tightly pencil them and them paint them in. If I did that, I would be in danger of losing their organic feel. They most likely would seem pasted on, rather than functioning as a part of the picture. This rough, they’re also very easy to quickly change, if necessary.

Here are the lay-ins for the raptors on the left side of the mural.

The coyote and teratorn are moving along. The coyote is pretty close to being finished…

…as are the American lion, pronghorn antelopes and capybara. I decided to give the lion a slight mane. You can see the near silhouettes of the distant gray wolves in this picture as well as some of the nearer dire wolf pack.

This is how the left third of the mural looked a couple of days ago. I am really bothered by the stiffness of the mastodon and grizzly. Plus, their relative scale isn’t correct. I’ve really gotta fix ’em.

Here’s the second quarter of the mural as it was a couple of days ago. To save time, I am going to take out the horse on the left…and probably those birds above the California condor.

Yup; I’m pretty sure I’m not going to have time to paint all of those birds in the sky. Not right now, anyway. You can see more of the dire wolves here.

The dire wolves and distant gray wolves are close to being silhouettes, with slight indications of form, a time saver that works quite well visually.

Here’s the Pleistocene mural as of Saturday night:

This evening I’ll try to post the changes and progress I made yesterday.