The photos in this post are of only a small portion of the generally excellent Lindheimer Mural, which graces the west side of the Hoffman Building in downtown New Braunfels, Texas. The mural was completed in 2001 by San Antonio mural artist Alex Brochon to coincide with Ferdinand Jacob Lindheimer's 200th birthday. Lindheimer was primarily a botanist and is considered the "Father of Texas Botany." There are about 30-40 plant species named in his honor, but of course only about a dozen or so could be represented on the wall space available. Herpetologists, however, know Lindheimer largely as the subject of the patronym for the Texas Rat Snake (Pantherophis obsoletus lindheimeri).
Above is the enormous two-story portion of the mural on the southwest side of the building. The amount of painstaking attention to detail is evident when you consider that every single word and letter in that page of print reproduced from the Zeitung newspaper, which Lindheimer published, edited, and printed, is rendered sharp and clear —as seen in the closer shot below.
Then—inexplicably—as one proceeds northward along the wall into the single story portion of the mural, he comes across this:
I have always wondered why so many otherwise exceptional artists have such trouble accurately rendering snakes in their work. A few of course, like Tell Hicks and Bill Montgomery, manage to capture snakes perfectly, but they are the exceptions. Some say that it is due to boredom with the repetitive nature of the scalation, but surely that isn't the problem when one is merely attempting to duplicate the animal's head.
Really, could the actual head of a Texas Rat Snake (as seen below) have been that much more difficult to paint than the travesty above, which is abstract beyond even the realms of stylization (the artists' version of poetic license)?