Seahorse Mermaid

As of the 2013 year I was accepted into a group called Girls Drawing Girls, and while it was discontinued for a while they’ve started doing Weekly Themes again. This week’s theme was Mermaids! I’ve been reading Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and just happened to stumble across the History Channel’s documentary about the first footage of Giant Squid…! That, and having just finished up my sea-themed mural… I’ve got oceans on the brain, so this just happened to be the perfect theme.

My first thought was to do a cute retro style pin up mermaid, like the ones in Disney’s Peter Pan. I love how they look (and I may still draw one…) but then I read another chapter of my book and they were talking about the deep deep sea and bio luminescence. I started thinking of a creature that could live in the deep lightless ocean, rather than a bright happy lagoon. And suddenly she went technicolor!!

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I was going to give her bright blue eyes to match her fins… but she looked so sweet. With the yellow eyes she looked just a bit more predatory. Like she’s cute… but she might bite your arm off.

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Mural

Finally!

Alright to recap, this mural was donated to the Kindergarten in Sayulita, Nayarit. I updated a few work in progress images and details here:

Progress 1

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Unfortunately this is on a pretty busy street, so getting a full image of the finished wall won’t happen for a while. I took a bunch of smaller photos, close up photos to make up for it. There was actually a weird kind of awkward photo shoot going on while I took these photos… Some girl in a dress too short to be called a dress getting a little too friendly with the palm tree next to my wall and about 20 people standing around watching.

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And there it is! I can’t tell you how many mistakes I made while I did this, and just going back yesterday to take these photos it was a little painful not being able to go back into it and fix things…. But the everyone at the Kindergarten (especially the kids!) are really happy with it so I need to just be happy with it too. Next time I do a wall like this there will be some pretty major changes in my process though.

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I’m soooooo close! I actually could have finished today, but the sun was rough. It was definitely the toastiest day yet, and since I’m not in any rush to have this completed I went ahead and stopped a bit early. I have half of the jelly fish tentacles left to do, plus some dots and details and what nots. I’ll get a couple good photos when it’s all done, but for now here are two that I snapped before I left.

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Mural 3

So! Day… I’m not sure how many days it’s been now… So! Update 3 on the mural in Sayulita. I’m finally getting all the base parts done and working on some details. I feel like I didn’t get as much done as I normally do today, but it’s just because it was a lot of over painting and small details. Oh and in the last post I mentioned I might experiment with a tool to make the dots go faster, and it actually worked pretty well! Here it is…

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Very high tech… I wrapped a scrap of t-shirt around the end of the brush with my hair tie. When I wanted to make larger dots I just doubled up the fabric. It worked like a charm and I finished up coral, stars and octopus!

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There are going to be a bunch of cute little fish and what nots filling up lots of the empty space… But I’m not really sure what I want to do with the big purple rock thing that the corals are on. I was going to do dots… but that seems so boring. I was also thinking of doing some lines all through it, sort of like a fingerprint pattern, in colors just a little darker or lighter than the purple that’s on there… I don’t know. But there’s plenty more to work on while I think about it.

Oh! And then there’s Tony. He’s been helping me out the entire time. He was asked by the family that runs the Kinder to make sure I have everything I need while I’m working and he’s been an enormous help. Here he is posing below the door way and gate that he painted while I worked on the wall.

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Mural 2

I’ve been so busy commuting back and forth from Sayulita every day, I didn’t have time to post anything! I also managed to forget to take photos for a couple of the days… but that’s alright, I got a few in.

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Day one and two were just priming and touching up the wall, as well as getting a rough sketch laid out with chalk. I also did the blue/black and white of the sky, moon and stars. Once everything was ready to go I started laying in the base colors for the jelly fish and the turtles. I was picking out colors pretty randomly, to be honest. I had already chosen the paints I wanted to use, so I knew they would all work together for the most part, but I still had no real set plan for what went where.

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The next day I gave the turtles and jellies a black outline, filled in the orange and purple swirls on the turtle shells, and started on the jelly tentacles. When I stepped away from it at the end of the day, I realized just how empty my composition was. Keep in mind this is about 100x bigger then anything I’ve worked on before! I’m having to really force myself to use the entire space.

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So today I sketched/filled/outlined a few more turtles, plus some little baby ones. The jellies still need their tentacles, but after finishing up the little guy in the picture below, I realized that I was still going to do some background detailing. If I did the tentacles now it would just turn into endless retouching. So for now they’re floating mushrooms.

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I also knocked out the octopus today, too. He has an outline now but it’s not in the pic since I wanted to take one while I remembered to and before it got too dark.

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So it’s still pretty plain, but it’s getting there now. Tomorrow I’ll knock out the coral, seahorses and little fishes by the octopus, and maybe finish up the sky. There’s going to be a little bit of color around the big stars that are already on it, and then tons of tiny little plain white stars all around them.

My problem now is that I know I want to use dots as details (I’m addicted to dots!! example , example), but I need to find a quick and easy way of doing them on the wall, while keeping them fairly uniform. I’m thinking maybe a piece of cloth tied to the end of a paint brush might work nicely…?

Mural Painting 1

I’ve been looking forward to starting my own mural for the past few weeks and yesterday I finally got a chance to begin! It’s been a slow start so far, but it’s coming along. I’m painting in a town called Sayulita, about an hour north of Puerto Vallarta, on the outside of a Kindergarten near the middle of town. The wall is long and low (about 5 feet high) with a little pyramid shape sticking up about 2/3 of the way down the wall. I started with a flat blue base coat yesterday and there was a little miscommunication on the amount needed, so I ended up running out just a couple feet from the end of the wall. Since the wall still needed lots of touchups to cover spots and and what-not I had to stop for the day. Today we got another couple gallons of blue so the last bit of the wall was covered up in no time, then another light cover up layer over the first, plus some little touchups and the wall was primed and ready to go!

I had a few rough drawings and a thumbnail sketch of the over all composition that I was working from.

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The real detailed sketching/pre-painting part always happens in my head, usually as I fall asleep at night. After a few nights of day dream painting and leaping out of bed to sketch “just one more idea” it all starts to comes together, but even now as I lay it out and begin to paint, the idea is flexible and loose. The colors are all over the place too. I have an idea of colors that I really like, and I’ve looked through the available paint left over from the other artists that were in town so I know what’s available and what I might be able to mix, but where exactly each color goes… I won’t know that until I’m in front of the wall with the color in my hand.

I’m getting ahead of myself, though. After the blue base paint was all done it was time for some layout. I used chalk, since it’s easy to fix with a quick wipe of a damp cloth. I still keep the lines loose while I focus on hammering out the composition with the actual proportions of the wall. Once everything (or at least mostly everything) is in place, it’s finally time for some color! Unfortunately, I plan on mixing the base blue with a black and a white to make different tones, but the black and white paints were locked up and no one was able to get to them! Aaaaah, so that was it for today! I could have started in on the accent colors, but that would have been skipping a pretty important step and I know I wouldn’t have been very happy with the result. So tomorrow the plan is to get the black and white (one way or another…) and get the base shapes painted in.

Ah, and of course, I forgot my camera today, so no photos of the wall yet. I’ll try to remember to grab it tomorrow so I can get a picture before I start the colors.