Tuesday, October 14, 2014

the dinosaur room

I painted this mural in my youngest son's room nearly 20 years ago. It is now a beloved family treasure. At one time or another everyone in the family and many, many guests have slept in this room over the years under the gaze of these benevolent dinosaurs.

When I painted this, my son was still in diapers, he is now about to graduate from college. Although he still enjoys this room, he moved into a larger room when his older brother left home. Now we have two grandchildren and more on the way. Our 15-month-old granddaughter has decided she loves dinosaurs and this room was her first introduction.  We keep a crib in here now and when she wakes from a nap the first thing we do is walk around talking to all the dinosaurs.
They all have different voices and only she can understand and talk back to them in her special baby language.
It is the smallest room in this house, a baby room, tucked under the eaves of a little Cape Cod style home in the Chicago suburbs. We hope to keep the happy dinosaurs in here forever to continue to delight new generations of small paleontologists.
I painted over the switch plate for the room light with a smirking parasaurolophus. 

A mother dinosaur and her newly hatching babies.

 I tackled the whole project without much preparation. One day at home with my toddler, inspiration hit and I began to sketch out the entire wall with images out of my head. I referenced our large collection of dinosaur books frequently but it was mostly a free association fun sort of composition. Our very-most-absolutely favorite dinosaur author is James Gurney writer of  "Dinotopia" and other stories. 
After I had sketched all the creatures and vegetation out with a soft prismacolor pencil, I painted in the line work with a brush and a grey-brown mixture. I then washed in loose areas of light color. I was going to keep the whole thing that way, very loose and not too high contrast or detailed. With the encouragement of my little boy, I got interested in detailing a few of the dinos. This spinosaurus, the velociraptor on the facing wall, and the parasaurolophus by the door. And then we decided that we liked it just the way it is. Not too overdone and finished but just enough detail.