Design & Preparation
I'd be lying if I said that the design and preparation efforts were a breeze. They weren't, at least for me. After discussing a broad-scale overview – from having the mural be a continuous scene traversing a shoreline (and the animals around it) through time, to having each Period's width scaled to its duration, and to using monochromatic color families referenced to each official Period color from the ICS, Stacy and I solicited input from the wealth of paleontology graduate and undergraduate students in my Department. Nearly everyone suggested that we be sure to include fossil groups that the Department's paleo faculty actually work on, which became an excellent starting point to begin framing out Period panel ideas.
While an exceptional artist, Stacy had never done a mural before, and so she spent countless hours watching tutorials on YouTube and then paraphrasing what she learned in emails to me so that we could make a supplies list and gameplan. We decided to use primered polytab for the medium, which made it easier to hang, manipulate, and project the initial drawings for scaling-up. After spending hours at the local Sherwin Williams trying to color-match printouts of the ICS scale (maybe not surprising to many of you, but certainly to us, RGB or hex codes don't translate directly to paint mixers) and sometimes settling on a color just because of its name (for example, could we find a better color for the Ediacaran than SW's "Butterfield"? No, absolutely not!), Stacy and several enthusiastic students took to mixing the monochromatic palettes and beginning the monumental task of painting each panel. Meanwhile, I cut out sections of flooring-grade plywood following templates we had made from melamine. These would serve as the backing where we'd later glue each polytab panel.