The finished painting Mermaid and Comet. A watercolour and gouache on paper. 15×22 inches. I finished the painting with black gouache. I have always used black outlines. It comes from my early love of stained glass, and I employ the outlines as if they are leading. Another early influence on my work is Egyptian tomb paintings, and I often flatten my picture plane as a result.
This painting is moving on to the detail, and finishing stage. At this point I’m using Winsor & Newton gouache to build texture and depth to the painting. I often use gouache as a drawing medium, and here I’m using it for the mermaids hair, and the bath water. The sky is built using a combination of traditional watercolour, and gouache. I used the watercolour in a wet technique and then applied cobalt blue gouache. The gouache is applied with small dabbing brush strokes, and bleeds into the darker blue watercolour.
I’ve been working on several different things at once. I like to switch back and forth between paintings of different styles and subjects.
When one thing is drying or just not working I will set it aside for a few days and come back to it later. I am able to see the painting fresh and move it forward.
I’ve always liked to paint mermaids, and over the years the mermaids have gone through many changes and settings. A few years ago they were set in an ocean setting and were very busy. The mermaids I’ve been working on recently are set in simple bath setting and have become calmer.
I seem to have two completely different streams of work going on.
For many years I only painted figurative works. I started to feel bored with what I was doing. I seemed to be painting and not really thinking about it. I felt lazy and wanted to try to change my work.
About five years ago I decided to spend time exploring new directions. I spent a lot of time and energy in just trying to figure where I really wanted my work to go. I enjoyed the luxury of just doing something and not caring if it worked out or not.
Now I seem to be bringing back the figure in my work while at the same time I’m working to complete my 12×12 long series.
It seems that I can now do this, and I don’t feel conflicted about switching back and forth between abstraction and representation.