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The San Diego Zoo Murals – Part Sixteen

Lots accomplished since the last post. I am close to finishing; I’d estimate one more week or less.

This mural’s animals are pretty much done. I have been focusing on the plants and landscapes and uniting the color and value systems within the painting. I changed the blob of a tree shape to the right of the long tailed weasel into a California juniper. The meadowlark is now perching on a dead juniper trunk and branch.

I’ve given better definition to the palmettos in this section. I still need to add the tarantula coming out of the burrow.

The flowers and leaves of the datura (the white flowers below the bobcat) are better defined as is the sagebrush and general landscape.

This section is close to being finished. I worked some more on the flat top buckwheat, the bunch grasses, prickly pear and the midground and background landscape.

I still need to finish the mural’s entire sky but that shouldn’t take very long.

Next: Completion!

3 thoughts on “The San Diego Zoo Murals – Part Sixteen

  1. WOW!!! That is a whole different reality. Amazing!!! I could be there…

    I don’t think I’d have clue as to how to get there. Question: IS that what you “see” the whole time you are working on it, or does it unfold from a general visual, and you tighten it up as you see it?

    Your client is going to LOVE this! Can’t wait to see the prehistoric one.


  2. Hi Rick,
    In answer to your question, I like to work intuitively and organically. Obviously, from the roughs and miniatures, I plan my work. But I try not to do anything that will keep it from being fun or do anything that will prevent me from having what we call “happy accidents”. I don’t grid up the scale pieces; I eyeball the enlargement, keeping the process fresh and ripe for discovery. If I screw up, I can still go back to my preliminary studies.

    I can think of only two pictures in which I saw the finished piece before I began. One was my Poe portrait; the other was a small painting of a mammoth. Both pictures came to me in dreams. I had just finished each one when I woke up. With the mammoth image fresh in my mind, I jumped out of bed, grabbed a canvas and put it down in paint before I forgot it (in the case of the Poe piece, I drew it, inked it and watercolored it in a few hours that morning).

    My pictures develop from thumbnails. I call that part of the process “thinking with my pen”. I really don’t know what I’m going to draw. It’s whatever happens to flow out of my pen tip. You can see that process in the sketchbooks that include some of my thumbnails.

    Once I have a design I like, it becomes a process of refinement until it’s finished. Even this process can have surprises which, for me, is one of the joys of producing art.

  3. Thanks, Bill. Always interested in how great artists work.


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