Finished! Coryphodons rumaging around the Eocene

Misbehaving Photoshop filters couldn’t stop me finishing! I finally finished it, and I am happy how it came out. It is large, made to be printed out at least 48 inches across, but the detail could hold up a lot larger…I have to print one myself to see how it looks on a format other than a computer screen. Otherwise if you want to see it in action, go to Western Washington University’s Environmental Studies building.
I shot screenshot timelapse video of the whole creation, including the modeling of the clay so hopefully I can get that video together soon. Until then, let me know what you think. Depicted are the creators of trackways found at the Racehorse Creek landslide that inhabited the low lying tropical estuary ~50 million years ago. There are prehistoric analogues of modern Herons, and Willets, and of course the group of Coryphodons- today we have nothing similar or even distantly related. They were fascinating creatures that had perhaps the smallest known brain to body ratio of any mammal. Do you think I created them in a believable rendering? As the artist, I chose all of the non-skeletal features such as hair, color, ears, snout shape, habitus, etc. Large responsibilities for someone who never saw them in real life!
Here are a couple wikipedia links of Coryphodons and the Eocene.

2 minute VIDEO of the whole mural!

This is my video summary of the major steps in the process of making it all look right. It was simple, but difficult and technical at the same time…is that believable? Hope you like it…HUGE THANKS to Jonathan Jackson at jhjackson.com for his skilled editing and technical help!  He is the best.

Perhaps if you are wondering, it took:

about 12 trips up into the Needle
about 2 weeks to make the models and create the digital plan of action
about 3 days making the outlines by dragging fat lumber crayons over the rough composite roof
about 6 gallons of house paint of about 7 colors
about 2 weeks of rolling paint
about 15 4-inch rollers
about $120 dollars of spray paint that I never used because it was too windy (!!)

The widest span between leg tips is about 100 feet

Number of times they are referred to as “spiders” vs “harvestmen”:  287:1

Giant harvestmen stake out on the Armory

Amazing processes are busily revealing themselves in the search for my ever so complex preliminary arachnids.  They have to nestle right onto the building, natural-like…and so its quite complicated.  The angle of the armory roof is such, and the view from the space needle is such, that I must paint this with an obscenely exaggerated stretch to it.

I have made models and photographed them on site to get the shadows just right…and here, gentle reader, is a preview of what I will be sketching on the roof tomorrow:

What is so interesting is that the shadow really ends up remaining unaffected.  But because of the steeper angle on the backside of the roof, this male (and not its shadow) has a seriously cool skew to it all.  This skew will make it look very 3D and with the shadow will make it look like it is really propped up off the roof.  I will have to paint this awkwardness with my mind (via this grid) and not con mi corazon, like usual.

For reference, the boxes are each 10 foot sections…so the painting will be massive times 2.

creodonts vs tapir baby

updating you now, I have just come up with this comp for the creodont that is about 80% finished.  I think I will give them some “flair” in the form of stripes or facial coloration or leopard stripes…any suggestions?

This is a preliminary sketch for a painting I am working on.  It is a Paleo-reconstruction of a scene from the Cenozoic which will focus on predation among a few common mammals of that time.

This crazy creature is actually an ancestral female tapir attempting to shield her young from marauding carnivores.  (Tapirs are alive today and are so cool to check out at a zoo!)  Surrounding her curiously and opportunistically will be a few Creodonts.  Note:  there are no creodonts at zoos, nor on our planet, and you should be grateful.  They were the dominant predator in North America for many millions of years; they might have hunted in packs and behaved much like the cooperative hyenas of today, but might not have.  One interesting thing that we do know is that Creodonts didn’t have much in the way of stereo vision, so that would have affected their hunting style and approach…hmmm, how should I translate that into this depiction?

Each of these have left fossilized tracks in stone in Whatcom county, in Washington state, and this painting will be for a display for Western Washington University.  I am still deciding on the coat for the Creodonts, so any suggestions are welcome!