Thursday, June 24, 2010

Conversation in a Tide Pool

A warm-up sketch before I started working this morning. Man, I'm writing A LOT lately and this still helped me loosen up! It was amazing. I'd started it as a very rough idea a few days ago and got the urge to finish it more last night. I'd like to paint this, too. Maybe add more designy things to the rocks and stuff. Might be a faerie-tale or story in the making as well. Not sure.

Here's another sketch, a variant I was working on over the last day or so when I had the time.

Chuck, talk about variations in Mermaids. Look at this "Mummified Mermaid." Very inspiring, kinda gross :P but interesting.


  1. lol, you can see some of my notes on the image. I'd written the title of a song I wanted to download when this was in a very rough format. In a way it kinda suits the image. Maybe it's the gull (a real animal) speaking "I'm a believer," to the Mermaid? :P

  2. Mermaid? I thought she was a swampy creature. ...with a raven :~)

    Remember that Flight of the Conchords song about Mermaids?
    'Do you, oh Mermaid have slightly webbed hands? ewwwwww......'

  3. The bird kind of reminds me of an old man who keeps talking your ear off and you cannot get away. He has a lot of personality.

    I always liked the episode of Futurama where Fry fell in love with a mermaid...

  4. This post would make a great lesson exercise in creature creation. I know this is for yourself, but assuming every artist seeks a connection with some sort of audience, I'll ask a basic question: Who is this for?

    My next question is similar to Paula's: What is a mermaid, and how much can you add to or subtract to that without getting into a separate type of creature altogether.

    Third: what is appealing or interesting about a mermaid? Grace and elegance? Speed? The underwater environment?

    Fourth: How can an illustrator fully capitalize on his/her medium to go far beyond what a costume and makeup artist can achieve.

    I think this is a nice sketch, but a bit unfulfilled as a design. I'd recommend creating at least 10 more studies before going to a full week-long rendering. I apologize for being so harsh.

  5. Paula- lol, yeah, that was good. Thanks.

    Christina- That's a great idea. I like the concept of him being an old bird. That would be something to explore. Maybe giving him a bit more of an anthropomorphic quality. Thank you.

    Chuck- I'll answer each question in the order in which they appear:

    1. This was largely for myself, but I felt like this doodle turned into a more finished idea that I wanted to share. For feedback like this, or even to inspire. I wouldn't mind doing some sort of monster book, but not quite yet. I've been a bit frustrated because I've been writing so much, I haven't had so much time to draw. This was a little bit of time I carved out to do what I wanted. So, to put it simply, it was because I wanted to do it, but whenever I make ANY art, it always comes with an added hope that it may inspire someone.

    2. I think that what you add and subtract is purely in line with what atmosphere and emotion you wish to convey. Is she so much a fish that she at some point becomes only vaguely humanoid? Is she more woman than fish with only hints of chordate heritage? Or a mixture of the two in varying degrees between the two poles? I like the more feminine mermaid, but I play with the idea of adding scales and fin as decoration to accentuate her allure. Sometimes I like messing with the extremes. There are so many versions of mermaid throughout the world's folkloric traditions I don't think I would ever be bored finding new ways to create exciting creatures.

    3. For me, I think the appeal of the mermaid varies depending on what I am feeling or what the story is about. i did some drawings not long ago about a an evil mermaid, but she was elegant. Her signifiers were her sharp features and dark, angular fins. I could have also gone the route of an ugly siren mermaid, whose voice is alluring, but her form is appalling. Just in general I ascribe to a romantic ideal when doing these drawings. I am fascinated by the sex appeal of the mermaid, but also focusing on how much of the fish I can get away with without robbing her of sexuality. Plus, I've been exploring various fin developments, sticking to loose, tendrilly things that have a very elegant, flowing quality so that when she's in the water, her hair and fins are like vapourous fabric undulating seductively around her form. The water plays an integral role in the development of the mermaid, I think. Water, itself, holds a great deal of mystery and seductive quality that lends itself easily to such a creature.

    4. I completely understand what you're saying here. This was a simple sketch so I can remember the idea later. But I'd be more than interested in hearing any further thoughts on this particular subject. I been exploring artists like Rackham and Org lately and other who work within the faerie-tale realm. I love the atmosphere and quality of line they achieve. What I am interested in is DESIGN in situations like this, making the fins and flowing qualities of the mermaid carry the movement and enhance the allure of the creature. So it's intriguing to hear you say that's what left you wanting. I will explore this image in more detail and take it to a different level.

    No worries about being harsh, Chuck. I appreciate your concern. I hope I did your questions justice. They were good ones.

    Thanks, everyone!

  6. Actually, Paula, I should give you a more in-depth response. She COULD be a swampy creature. That actually might be really cool. Maybe she lives in a brackish bog near the coast or something? That would be really cool. And a raven would be awesome, too. That would be exploring a really interesting aspect of the mermaid. Thank you, that was really cool.

  7. why do I picture those mummified mermaids in a sardine can?

  8. LOL, hah! Yeah, it does have that appeal, doesn't it? :P

  9. wow im actually drawing a mermaid now, i looked up on google images for references and found this! The mummy creeps me out T.T To me it seems as if she is making a deal with the raven, which is really something else in disguise (but she doesnt know that) and the raven (i like the old guy idea) needs something only she can give him... like a BONE or a piece of her skin. But of course she wont want to give him a bone; maybe mermaids have regenerative qualities? Or they're like the "warriors of the sea," your mermaid looks very strong and lithe and muscular, like a warrior... GEEZ listen to me waffle on, im so caught up in my own mind... lol amazing picture though :D