Monday, April 13, 2015

Helping a Budding Artist

A few weeks ago, Judy invited me over to play mixed media along with her granddaughter visiting from Toronto. I think the intention was that we'd all create a piece of our own but, as sometimes happens, the afternoon took on a life of its own and instead we focused on helping Jackie create this mermaid painting.

Yes, the reward was a fine glass (or two) of Amarone

Mermaids hold a fascination for most young girls - well aren't we all somewhat intrigued with these mythical creatures? Since I've had some experience portraying them (see here and here) I was in demand. 

Jackie requested that I draw the mermaid while I insisted she transfer the drawing onto the panel. What I don't have are images of the stimulating, fearless flurry of energy we all spent employing the cobwebbing technique. for the background. This is when you stretch artificial, store-bought, Hallowe'en cobwebbing over your support, saturate it with water and go into a crazed frenzy of spritzing and splashing colours into/onto it. To hasten the drying process we used a hair dryer. Peeling off the cobwebbing leaves you with gorgeous, random marks all over the place.

Using white gesso, the silhouette of the mermaid had to be painted back on so that we'd have a clean slate on which to paint her fresh skin tones and hair. 

Here, using heavy gloss gel medium, Jackie is applying the miniature starfish, that I gleaned from a shop in Hawaii 

As it was a collaborative effort Judy insisted that we both sign it ...

We applied a textured paper for the tail and bra. Commercially produced rubber stamps were used for the seahorse, shells and underwater vegetation. Tissue paper was used because stamping on the rough surface (residual cobwebbing) would not have yielded the crisp images we desired. 

In the time we had, we would not have finished the painting had I granted Jackie the rest break she requested. Kudos to the 12-year old for not buckling under my pressure - I can be a tough task master - just ask her grandmother!

The finished collaboration showing the black sand across the bottom

In retrospect I see that I shouldn't have instructed Jackie to paint that dark area of the hair - a classic example of why one shouldn't follow any photographic reference exactlyI've suggested that Judy (who has framed it exquisitely) put this error right before Jackie returns in July. 


  1. What a fabulous mermaid - you and Jackie did a masterful job! The texture is wonderful throughout (you know how much I love that cobweb background!), and what a trooper that Jackie is to last through the frenzied afternoon. Well done, all!

    1. Thank you Win. We are getting a lot of miles out of that cobwebbing aren't we?