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Oklahoma Arts CouncilOklahoma Arts Council

Discovery and Exploration

by Charles Banks Wilson

Oil on linen
Dimensions: 13' x 27'
Commissioned by the Oklahoma Legislature in 1970
Dedicated on November 16, 1976
5th floor Rotunda

Discovery and Exploration by Charles Banks Wilson
Photo by John Jernigan

Visual Art Details

Charles Banks Wilson spent two years gathering research and authentic information about Oklahoma before beginning the process of producing the murals. The research created the foundation for his preliminary sketches, of which he completed 75 for the mural. From the sketches, he created a 15-inch working drawing, which he used for reference. Banks then built small three-dimensional models of each detail in the drawing, which he used for a reference of how the light would fall on each object. From there, he created several black-and-white paintings of the entire scene before finally making color choices and completing a 37-inch color painting. Then, he began work on the final product, a panel stretching 14-feet wide at the base, 25-feet wide at the top, and 13-feet high.

  1. Acrylic paint was used for the mural because of its long-lasting durability.
  2. The artist used himself as a model for Coronado.
  3. Wilson spent time sketching buffalo from life.
  4. The artist used Mexican prisoners for models of those holding the cross.
  5. The horizon in the mural was said to symbolize the endless possibilities for Oklahoma.
  6. The tents and other objects in the background are very small and placed in the upper portion of the composition to indicate they are far away.
  7. The people and objects in the foreground are placed in the lower portion of the composition and painted with great detail to indicate they are closer to the viewer.
  8. The people and objects between the foreground and background make up the middle ground of the painting.