Once in a blue moon it happens: you sit in front of your easel with in mind a clear idea of what you will paint. From the pencil sketch to the final "fignolage " (ugly french word meaning "last touch ups") everything goes in a perfect linear way, no hesitation, no struggle, et voila! Done.
Well this time it wasn't meant to be. I wanted to paint a two headed mermaid but it took several nose jobs, different hair textures or tail color changes before I was finally satisfied with the result. The important part is to keep on going and trust the process: the painting is in there and will appear if you have patience and try just a little longer.
Sketch and light wash all over. I apply the colors for the underpainting of the skin.
I am planning to give her (or them) blue hair so my favorite trick is to use orange, the complementary color, as an underlayer.
I change my mind about the eyes of the girl on the right and she has to be blind for a minute so I can repaint her eyes open.
I add a heart on her belly, floating above her hands.
I paint the background darker and darker and decide to go for a tonal color palette, mainly blues and greens.
And now I am not liking the red heart anymore and I want something larger to replace it.
I cover the red for a while to make is easier to decide what color I would like to replace it with. I also fiddle with the hair texture because this look seems too cartoony for me.
I think I figured out her hair but the whole image seems boring. I push my easel in a corner of the room and try to forget it for a while but everytime I walk by I glance at it hoping that the solution will reveal itself to me.
And this is what I finally decide: to change the tail color to goldfish orange and add more texture to it and replace the heart with a pink lotus, one of my favorite symbols (yes, I am shamelessly using peace and/or love at any occasion)
I make a quick tear-drop shaped stencil and paint gold drops on the black background. The final touch is to print on her chest "Be Like Water", a quote dear to me, inspired by one of the principles of the Tao.
Here is a detail of my final version of the twins.
And I couldn't resist to show you this very different take on Mermaids Siamese Twins...
...the four arms and four boobs kind, made by fabric artist Keighty Crochet.