Painting my mermaids in their magical underwater world

Where do mermaids live?

My water dancers need a better habitat than a swimming pool. Those smooth tile sides reflect the rippled sunlight beautifully but mermaids should live in the ocean. I started by making a “plate”, an underwater background scene based on the pool’s perspective and light source. I turned the sides of the pool into a rocky cliff face and twisted vines up the sides.

Compositing photographs and trailing vines down the sides of the swimming pool to make a home for my mermaids.
Compositing photographs and trailing vines down the sides of the swimming pool to make a home for my mermaids.
Finally, the painting begins!
Finally, the painting begins!

Then in go the mermaids…

Untitled by Ailene. Digital painting (In progress)
Untitled by Ailene. Digital painting (In progress)

Even with my water dancers in the scene, it looked empty and rather grim with no other life, as though the mermaids were hungry sharks that had scared all the fish away. And my mermaids aren’t predators. So I painted in their companion fish using photos from my trip to an aquarium as reference.

Untitled by Ailene. Digital painting (In progress)
Untitled by Ailene. Digital painting (In progress)

I was listening to a podcast recently where the artist was talking about how important good references are – I certainly can’t do without them. So wherever I go, I take photos because you never know when cliff faces, vines and fish will be useful!

What’s the mermaids’ story?

So what are the water dancers swimming towards? I’ve brainstormed lots of ideas. Maybe there’s a ship passing overhead. Or perhaps something’s fallen into the water – a sailor, a sword, an anchor, or even a fish net? Maybe a giant squid or sea dragon is swimming past. Or what if a sorceress stands above the water summoning the mermaids to the surface.

I’d love to hear what you think. What do you think the story might be?

Keep on shining bright,

Ailene

2 comments

  1. their facial and body expressions, speak as if they are “moving on” but are slightly hesitant on the outcome. The vines and the semi-ghostly fish give that journey a little of unknown outcome “are we going to get there…will be okay once we are there…and if it’s not good, what then?” Can we return, or are we on a mission to make the best of this journey? So many questions but we don’t stop to think but rather continue, believing that all will work out…

(If you'd like to leave me a message too, I'd love to hear from you! I've turned off comments on this post because it's older than a couple of weeks, but you can email me at ailene@oldmountainart.com)