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Basking by LR Mark Hall, Western Painted Turtle

The western painted turtle, depicted in this painting, is the most colourful of the four North American subspecies. The name – “painted” comes from the colourful markings on their head, neck and legs as well as from the elaborate and colourful design on their belly plates. The reddish-orange underbelly design is only hinted at on one of the individuals in this painting. The western subspecies is the only native turtle to the Rocky Mountain region of Canada where I live.  Oregon State and British Columbia are the only jurisdictions within this subspecies range where it is listed as a species-at-risk.  

Every wildlife species has its unique habitat requirements.  Like all turtle species, the painted turtle nests on land. To incubate their eggs properly, they require loose sandy-gravelly soil that is kept warm by the sun.  Baby turtle survival is partially dependent on nest sites not getting trampled on by vehicles, livestock or people. Every spring-early summer they migrate across land to reach nesting areas and to ensure genetic diversity by swapping individuals between different populations. Because they are slow on land, traditional migration routes often expose them to the hazards of roads and highways. 

Because reptiles cannot generate their own body heat they rely on heat from the sun to warm them so that they can effectively hunt and forage in colder waters.  Floating logs and big flat rocks that they can climb onto are also critical habitats for the painted turtle.  Logs, as the one shown in this painting, that are partially submerged on one end are ideal for these little armoured water tanks to crawl up on.

Critical habitat features that are important to small animals also tend to be small.  When creating paintings of small wildlife I enjoy creating habitats that show the relationship between the subject and small (and often over looked) micro habitats – such as a single floating log.  Small, shadowy areas, nooks and crannies create intriguing little areas within a painting because they might be hiding something interesting that the subject is going to explore. In this painting, the dark area under the log and the half-submerged / half-floating mats of algae create places that might be of interest to these groups of turtles. The stringy clump of algae draped over the one turtle’s shell is a sign that it has been exploring the aquatic “forests” below.

These turtles enjoy their time basking in the hot summer’s sun.  For a while, they make an artistic arrangement on top of the log. However, at the first sign of perceived danger – plop, plop, plop, plop, plop - they will be gone!

Print Details:
Edition Size: 950
13" x 5"Price: $90
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Original Details:
Availablilty: Available for Purchase Dimesions: 15 1/2" x 6" Medium: Acrylic on Hardboard Price: $2800 (framed)