I have to admit, it’s hard to look at old work. It’s like watching yourself on a video from 2002. Is that what I used to look like? How did I think that looked good? A hard pill to swallow, but swallow we must. Especially if we want to improve quickly.
These are two paintings that I did almost exactly year ago, for last year’s Strawberry Faire. The first one was one of my largest paintings I had on offer that day. A purple-haired mermaid, making friends with an orange fish.
She’s kind of Disney-esque, which I like. They did make the most famous mermaid, after all. You know the one. I’m most happy with her tail, and how it looks flow-y and magical. And the swirls were really fun to do. I ought to do more paintings with swirls in them. My biggest problem is the fuzziness of the whole thing. I’ve since learned to keep more water or liquid medium on my brush to make smoother lines. In fact, keeping my paint the proper consistency for what I’m trying to do is probably the most valuable thing I’ve worked on all year. It’s also one of the hardest things to learn, as it takes a lot of practice to get a “feel” for when the paint is just right.
I’m proud to say that I sold this painting during the Faire. My 3-year-old daughter watched the whole transaction, and then started to cry as the customer took her new mermaid away. She had been hoping that she could keep it for herself, and was heartbroken. So I set up my easel and paints in the back of the booth, and started painting a new mermaid, just for her.
This is her mermaid, appropriately named, “Mermaid”. I was going for something simple and fun, with the swirly bubblegum hair. Same fuzziness issues as the other painting, but it looks slightly worse because this canvas was much smaller. Time constraints and the distractions of the festival made the work much sloppier as well, although that’s not always a bad thing. My daughter was thrilled though, which is exactly the outcome I was going for.
It’s a departure from my usual subjects, but mermaids are really fun to paint. I think I’ll try to have at least one mermaid painting every year I participate in the Ashland Strawberry Faire.