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Creating the San Diego Zoo Murals – Part Thirteen

This is the third quarter of the modern animal mural with the animals (but not the background and foreground settings) pretty much fully rendered.

I painted the bobcat‘s body twice. The first time I painted the critter, everything looked in proportion. But after better familiarizing myself with bobcat proportions, I realized that the body was too small for the head. Bobcats have very small heads in proportion to the bodies when compared to most other cats. It was pretty simple to bulk him up some more when the rendering was still fairly rough.

The interesting challenge in painting both the bobcat and the tortoise was in keeping their values dark in comparison to the other critters too emphasize the bobcat and tortoise as being in the deep foreground (this visually explains their larger size relative to the other animals), especially because in the reference I shot the animals are both well lit.

I love painting birds, especially big raptors. Depicted here are a turkey vulture and a red-tailed hawk. They are both pretty finished, but I know I’ll be losing some of their hard edges once I finish the sky. Losing the edges will make them more a part of the painting, instead of them looking like they had been cut out and pasted onto the mural.

This shows the animals in the fourth quarter of the painting. Again, the landscape still needs to be finished.

This golden eagle and merlin have what will be a blooming agave between them. Both birds were not on my original list from the zoo. I felt they should be included because both birds exist today in the San Diego region as well as being found in the Pleistocene fossil record.

I also sneaked in this burrowing owl (I realize that every animal depicted in the modern mural has to also occur in the Pleistocene mural — and in roughly the same spot, which makes for some interesting compositional planning).

I had an experience with the coyote opposite to that of the bobcat. Once I had finished the coyote (working from shots I had taken of a coyote who had wandered onto my front lawn one afternoon) I realized I had painted its head too small, so I reworked it.

I also added a badger emerging from its burrow, but there wasn’t sufficient sun to shoot this addition by the time I had finished it.

Here’s how the whole modern mural looks now (minus the badger; remember, if you double click on the images they should present themselves in a larger format):

The obvious next step is to finish the foreground plants (which will take more research) and the general landscape and sky (not so much research). Hopefully, that will all go more quickly than the animals.

Next: Landscape and Plants

1 thought on “Creating the San Diego Zoo Murals – Part Thirteen

  1. Amazing the way you pull all this together. Love the bobcat and his pal. Thanks for the long shot so we can see the value scheme contrast you are shooting for from near to far.


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