This watercolor, entitled Flotilla
, is one from an ongoing series of paintings from a turtle rescue and rehabilitation sanctuary owned and operated by a friend of mine. These were unique turtle models. Unlike the river dwelling subjects I've had to stalk so carefully to get a good vantage point, they had been conditioned to not be wary of humans. Some, she received as abandoned pets who either outgrew their owner's ability to keep them, or simply outlived their owners, as some species live upwards of 40 years. And, those injured on roads or construction sites had apparently been with her long enough to realize the presence of a human usually means food, or at the very least nothing at all. Anyway, these paintings are much more about interaction between turtles and the use of reflections to activate the compositions. Because of the vantage point I was able to get- a sharper angle downward- and, by being close to the action, the reflections are much more dramatic, and somewhat adjustable by my position. Of particular interest to me while composing Flotilla
were the effects the degrees of wetness had on the color of each turtle's shell. Generally, the native aquatic turtles of Indiana are an inconspicuous lot. Their coloration helps them fit in with the logs and rocks they climb onto to bask- browns, dark and dirty greens. It's very easy to paddle on by a log full of turtles without even noticing them, particularly if they've dried off awhile. In this painting, the Painted Turtle
on the left has obviously pulled out of the water awhile ago. The scutes (the segments that make up the shell) that have dried are a dusty faded green, while the wet scutes are a rich yellow green. The red trim around the outer edge of the shell is brilliant while wet. The middle turtle, a Red-eared Slider, shows the intensity of the orange linear detail that would barely be discernible on a dry shell. The third turtle, another Red-eared slider, is mostly submerged, shows color intensity on the surfaced area of the anterior shell and the head. The submerged shell is subdued and blurry... obscured by the water and the reflections.