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As a heavily bearded male of darker-than-average Caucasian skin, it is perhaps no wonder that I was stopped & searched more than the average commuter in the months following the 7th July London bombings. Throw in the rucksack and I was practically asking for trouble. Tonight I suspect I will be pushing the boundaries again as I embark on a project that requires using scissors on the underground during the Olympics.

For the past 10 weeks I’ve been attending a botanical oil painting class at the British Museum of Natural History, which draws to its conclusion tonight. My final project is a prehistoric reconstruction of the scene when Ludodactylus specimen SMNK PAL 3828 caught what it thought was a fish in its throat pouch. The tasty-looking morsel turned out to be a hard, sharp leaf from a plant similar to the modern Welwitschia (thanks to Darren Naish for the info). The leaf was still lodged there when the animal died.

The composition of the piece has changed somewhat over the past couple of weeks: my initial picture featured Ludodactylus in the foreground, throwing its head back in anguish (see picture 1 below) with the offending plant gloating in the background. The final revision has the villain of the piece at centre, with the poor pterodactyloid victim off to the left in the middle distance (pictures 2 and 3 below).

Now, armed with my trusty scissors, pipe cleaners, and a cut-out of a skeletal reconstruction of Anhanguera (post-cranial material for Ludodactylus does not appear to exist), I shall construct a pose-able scale model of its basic form as a guide for the placement of light and shadows within the scene. Fortunately our Ludodactylus is destined for a flat/near-flat ground, or I would be sculpting terrain to go with my maquette too. More pictures to follow as the piece unfolds…



Picture 1: Compositional Sketch


Picture 2: Final piece – blocking in the colours





Picture 3: Final piece – most of the subjects present with one conspicuously absent critter…



Pipe cleaners and skeletal cut-out maquette:

First detail layer on the Wellwitschia plus first block colour layer on Ludodactylus: