Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Finished haootia quadriformis sculpture

The haootia quadriformis sculpture is finished.  To recap for the benefit of any readers who haven’t read my previous blog posts, haootia quadriformis is a small marine animal similar to (and likely related to) modern jellyfish, which lived 560 million years ago during the Ediacaran period.  

Ediacaran life forms are very interesting to me as a sculptor because they’re just so weird.  Haootia is actually one of the less strange ones, but it still makes for an interesting sculpture.

As I said yesterday I did retouch some of the paint.  I didn't change it very much though, just evened out the colours a bit.  

Here it is from the side.  You can see the haootia's body projecting slightly from the surface of the background, however you can't see the whole body.  Haootia had a little stalk and a disc shaped foot, which is not shown in this sculpture.

I decided against varnishing it, even with matte varnish, because any varnish would change the sculpture's texture and I like the texture as it is.  

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Colouring the haootia sculpture

In yesterday's post I showed you my new haootia quadriformis sculpture.  Last night I got stuck in and painted it.

The big question here was what colour to make it.  Jellyfish are the closest things to haootia that still exist today, and they can sometimes be brightly coloured.  But what about an animal that lived 560 million years ago in the Ediacaran period?  Haootia didn’t have eyes as far as we can tell and neither did anything else around at the time; there’s no fossil evidence for eyes before the Cambrian.  Would Ediacaran life forms have evolved coloured skins when there was nothing that could see them?  Unfortunately we will probably never know, so this is one of those situations where an artist has to use their best judgement.  

I took the conservative approach and used very little colour, just white and indigo.

I may go back and re-touch some of the paint inside the haootia because it's not exactly my best work.  By the time I got to those parts of the sculpture it was late and I had a migraine.  I was determined to finish the job, but I wasn't really feeling it and it shows.  

I'll also give the sculpture a coat of matte or semi-gloss varnish.

Monday, 5 September 2016

Haootia quadriformis sculpture

Haootia quadriformis is a small polyp-type animal which lived around 560 million years ago, and is believed to be one of the first creatures to have muscle tissue.  I’ve wanted to do something with haootia ever since the discovery was published in 2014, but couldn’t work out exactly what I was going to do.

Finally I got the idea to make a small sculpture that emphasises the little animal’s symmetrical body plan.

This is haootia seen from above.  From the fossil evidence it appears to have been cup-shaped, with small tentacles branching off at each of its four corners, so that's what you see in the sculpture.  The sculpture is about life size, maybe slightly bigger.

The following pictures show the haootia fossil discovered in Newfoundland, along with an artist's reconstruction of what it probably looked like when it wasn't squashed flat, and a modern staurozoan (stalked jellyfish), which is possibly a distant relative of haootia and is a similar type of animal.

The two top images show the original haootia fossil from Newfoundland.  Bottom right is an artist's depiction of what it looked like in life, and bottom left is a staurozoan, a similar type of animal which is still around today.  Picture from The Economist.

I used these pictures to determine how my haootia sculpture should look.  I should point out we don't know exactly what haootia looked like inside.  The Newfoundland fossil doesn't show evidence of any clearly defined structures inside the animal, so I went with a very simple shape.  Modern polyps have a mouth and the body of the polyp forms a stomach cavity.  I assume haootia absorbed nutrients through the walls of its body cavity, but the fossil shows no sign of a mouth.