(*title suggested by Mike at Getting Things Done in Academia)
I am enjoying my favorite part of a painting: starting it. With the design for the Crinoid painting approved by the museum we’re good to go. Here we are in the Fabrications Department at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, where there’s light, space, water, and the beginning of life as we know it. Paleozoic life.
This painting, which I projected onto a panel prepped with my favorite buff titanium gesso (from Daniel Smith), will measure 4′ x 6′ and when completed will be digitally enlarged onto canvas to life sized: 8′ x 12′. The specimen fossil crinoid will be attached to the surface of the painting. It was an impressive creature with a ten-foot long stem, and I imagine it and its fellow crinoids gently waving in the current like a forest of giant kelp, but with more attitude. I’ve placed them in a setting that shows a bit of the habitat and a few fellow denizens. The starting point is with a grisaille, which is just a fancy way of saying monochromatic painting. I’ll go over it later with glazes of color, but this shows design and tonal values right off the bat.
I’m working from a color comp, which I created in Photoshop using many images of various crinoid head poses drawn from the model described earlier. Besides the crinoids for the background, for atmosphere I’ve included goniatites, which were nautilus-like ammonites and which I’ve imagined in glowing orange and purple; a group of belemnites cut a nice diagonal across the crinoid stems, and a pair of Stethacanthus, small sharks with odd appendages, swim curiously around the lower part of the painting. More about Stethacanthus later, but they are very cool and I think they’ll be fun to paint.