After observing basking turtles for many years, I've come to understand that the shell (carapace), while a huge advantage to the turtle's ability to survive the millions of years of its existence, is also a burden. While in the water, the shell serves as an instantly regulated set of water wings that promotes effortless sub-surface flotation, as well as the ability to sink to the bottom in a matter of seconds, but since all aquatic turtle species must use their shells a solar collectors to enable their metabolisms to process food, they must, on a regular basis, pull out of the water. Sometimes this somewhat clumsy venture is a easy as walking up the submerged end of a log to eventually reach the dry end. This often results in a "Turtle Parade" as one after another walks up the same log, convincing each previous log walker to advance. But, frequently the chosen perch can be tenuous. This watercolor, "Finding Balance" is a capture of that situation. Two large Map Turtles
are situated on a dramatically sloped log, which is also fairly small in diameter. The flat plastron
(bottom of the shell) makes only minimal contact with the curve of the log while claws do not get to find a grip. What occurs is a combination of extended necks and legs to counterbalance a heavy anterior shell. The results demonstrate a rather sophisticated execution of asymmetrical balance... by the turtles... I just painted what I saw.
Watercolor Notes: This painting emphasizes the element of shape in the composition. The two turtle shells are simplified in detail, but emphasized using the principle of contrast- by being brightly staged against a darker background. There is an unsettling tension created by the oddly angled turtles, but the connection of the two shell shapes at the shoulder area serves to stabilize the tension and add to the mass, which helps to create the balance against the generous section of background (water) in the left half of the composition.