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The San Diego Zoo Murals – Part Thirty: Conclusion

I’m beginning the end run here with the tree I painted behind the short-faced bear

…and some water plants, plus the foliage below the bobcat and tortoise….

…and some Pleistocene lily pad type plants…

…as well as some California natives behind the coyote and a California juniper below the coyote…

…plus some more water plants and some painterly deep foreground definition…

…followed by more loosely painted plants below the fox

…and the same amount of plant detail below the giant jaguar.

In the morning I sneaked in another animal: the Pleistocene long-horned bison (Bison latifrons)…

..and painted more native California trees, including this palmetto.

I added then refined the second ground squirrel and then detailed the mallows in front of the giant ground sloth a bit more, as well as the deep foreground plants…

…and the plants below the tapir.

My friend Samantha Holmes asked me why I had painted the teratorn with such light (almost white) feathers. My lame answer was, “That’s the same color I painted it for the one in the sloth mural at the San Diego Natural History Museum.” It was also the same color as the illustration of the teratorn in the book Rancho La Brea: Treasures of the Tar Pits.

I gave it some thought. I figured that since the teratorn was somewhat related to the condor that I would give it a slight overhaul with some darker feathers. I like the result.

At this point, the first quarter of the Pleistocene mural looked like this…

…and the second quarter like this…

…and the third quarter…

…followed by the 4th quarter. There’s still a little bit of work to be done, but here’s the full mural at this point:

The next day I added some dappling to the water:

And a bit more dappling to this part of the pond:

My wife didn’t find the water convincing enough as water; plus, she thought the water color was a little too intense and (to use a critical term I use a lot) “too candy”.

So, I worked on it some more, adding more dapples, darkening the the water between the lily pads and cutting the “candy” color with some grayer dapples and paint.

I did that here, too.

After seeing some great Howard Terpning paintings at a nearby exhibition at the Autry Museum on Father’s Day, I decided to lighten the distant mountains, using the same technique I used on the first mural (see past Journal entries).

I did the same for this section of mountains, plus I decided to lighten the far part of the condors wing even more to evoke its great size and distance.

I signed this baby and it was done — and off it went to the photographer (just barely fitting its eight feet length into my mini-van)!

It’s done, folks! Thanks for sticking with me through all of this! The next step is for the San Diego Zoo to transfer these to mural images to a gigantic 8 ft. x 8 ft. tile and then install them at the Zoo. I’ll let you know when they’re up. They should be in place on public view well before Comic-Con International.

5 thoughts on “The San Diego Zoo Murals – Part Thirty: Conclusion

  1. Amazing job, Bill!

    Special thanks for you letting us just sit here and learn while you did all the work. Even this last installment was full of additional insights. And for me, and probably others, it was informative and enjoyable to see that even a top pro still makes adjustments even to the final stroke.

    Thanks again for allowing us to share in the journey from start to finish.

  2. The wife has a good eye. I also was “hinky” about the water, but felt who am I to say. I’m sure she has more cred than I. Thanks for all of your time

  3. Hi Rick,
    Thanks for hanging in there through all of this and for cheering me on, my friend!

    Hi Jim,
    NEVER feel embarrassed about criticizing my work. I’m not perfect, and I really appreciate good feedback (even if it stings a bit), especially before the work is finished (when I can actually do something about it).

    I think my initial intent with the water was to do something that was somewhat more graphic and traditionally mural-like. I’m glad my wife pointed out it wasn’t really working. I’m a little embarrassed about that initial too-strong color, as I’m usually very sensitive to what I call “candy color”. I’m glad she caught that, too. Good wife!

  4. Maybe you had been flipping thru some Maxfield Parrish images….

  5. Bill – I just moved from PA to WV. So I missed a lot of the updates. I agree with the others, it’s been a blast watching this Mural materialize. I also appreciate you taking the time & energy to post your process. And your candid comments.

    The ‘sneaked in’ long horn Bison tickled me – I photoed a young bull give me the same pose up in the Montana Bison range awhile back.

    I have grand kids in San Marcos Cal, maybe someday on a visit I can see some of your murals in person.

    It’s been FUN.


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