Numero Tres: Dinosaurs!
Today, 23 November, I started painting dinosaurs. I wake every morning and in the pre-dawn clarity I allow my mind settle on what the subject of the day's efforts will be. It doesn't feel like decision making so much as a form of listening. Today it was time to paint critters. The mural is already roughed in- yesterday I added the first sky wash. All the major landscape lines are in and I've played with some details like rocks and a few shrubs.
None of what I show you below is in its final form- all will be intensified and sharpened but the painting went well and the characters are now onstage. There is drama. I spent all day in the Triassic and early Jurassic, between 220 million and 150 million years ago. As I have said this was a time went life was experimenting with a wild array of forms. Heres one: Desmatosuchus. Not a dinosaur but an aeteosaur, one of a briefly successful line of armored herbivorous reptiles.
This was a 16 foot long horned lizard- bizarre.
And some drama- 20' long Dilophosaurus pursuing Scetellosaurus. Mesozoic death race!
Plateosaurs- the first of the really big dinosaurs- 33' long herbivores. The pink mouthed guy will be closing his jaws on some leaves.
Dimorphodon- one of the earliest pterosaurs- the wonderful flying lizards. I chose an unorthodox pose- something dynamic and showing the flex of the wing membrane. This is Mercy's favorite so far.
And finally, Coelophysis- one of the earliest dinosaurs- a fleet predator, here seen on a beach nosing into something edible.
I've never had so much fun painting. Today I worked until the light gave out and now the whole sweep of this mural is embedded in my mind. I can call up any section, see where it is and consider where it needs to go. This experience, being possessed by a work, in part of the deep magic of art. Seeing the ideas I've been having run through my mind finally appear before my eyes is a thrill.
One last photo- the setting. Here is the house of Steve and Mercy and the relationship of the mural walls to the dwelling. The long, low Triassic to early Cretaceous wall hides a huge propane tank. The late Cretaceous wall fronts what my patrons and friends call the Hunker Bunker. This is fire country and the bunker is designed to provide a survival space in case fire blocks the avenues of escape. I will be painting the inside of the bunker as well- but that is another, even stranger project.
Happily ensconced in the Mesozoic I am wishing you well.