Mermaid in the Deep- Graphite 9″ x 12″

Coming upon a mermaid is a most wondrous sight, but one is advised to to be very cautious when approaching her, or him!   There appears to be two varieties of merpeople.  I say two because the mermaid or merman is a very elusive creature and it is merely conjecture at this point as to the number of types.  And why wouldn’t they be elusive!?  They seem to be well aware of mankind’s penchant to shoot, stuff, and subsequently proudly hang over their fireplaces their so called “trophies”.   Or perhaps even worse is forcing them to perform in some Sea World type place, or caging them in a tiny aquarium in some zoo for all the world to gawk at open mouthed and perhaps drooling.

The two known supposed varieties of merpeople are the common or ordinary mermaid/man  (though there is nothing common or ordinary about them)  and the second known as a siren.  The common merperson is known to assume the form of a dolphin to  guide sailors who are lost, lead ships trying to navigate treacherous rock filled waters, rescue drowning sailors , etc.

Ah, but the sirens are a whole nother matter.  Their intent towards mankind is not so benevolent.  They enjoy immensely, sitting on the rocks sweetly singing with their bewitchingly beautiful voices luring unwary and unsuspecting sailors to certain death.  Their ships, then are steered by maddened men whom neither can see,  know or care that the rocks are mere yards away waiting to smash their ships into thousands of little pieces that will end up as as flotsam and jetsam on a beach next morning.  The sailor who is lucky enough to have survived the sinking of his ship only to come to the notice of the sirens is likewise lured below the waves where the sirens continue to sing their hauntingly beautiful songs, the sailor responding by following them ever lower to the icy depths, only to realize when it too late that he is drowning and soon to be dead.

The learned and well known authority on the children of the fae, Hans Christian Andersen, purports to believe that merpeople live to be around 300 years old, have no souls,  turn to seafoam when they die, and must earn their souls by good deeds. (kind of keeps out the Sirens, doesn’t it…?)   I however think that is utter rubbish and nonsense and is a patent expression of the arrogance of some who think that just because they are capable of writing things down that it makes it true.  I do not believe for one second that any merperson would disclose such a personal detail about themselves to any human.  Frankly no human lives long enough to prove or disprove how long a mermaid lives or knows with absolute certainty that they themselves even have a soul.  Personally, I believe that all creatures do have them though like everyone else I can’t prove it.  I would be a lot happier if  I could.

In conclusion I strongly admonish that if you are so incredibly  fortunate as to come upon a merperson that you take note and keep to a safe distance.  Admire, but do not under any circumstance attempt to touch or make contact in any way.

Copyright 2013 All rights reserved Ann Gates Fiser

Queen of the Sea

"Queen of the Sea" 11.5" x 7" Graphite

I came upon the Queen of the Sea and though at first startled, she eventually smiled at me. I’ve never forgotten nor never shall the meeting under the sea.

Copyright 2013 All Rights Reserved Ann Gates Fiser

What Do Mermaids Do All Day Long?

"Evia" 9" x 12" Graphite
“Evia” 9″ x 12″ Graphite

What do mermaids do all day?  Are they bored with swimming around?  Or is it still as much fun as it for you and me?  Do they play with sea creatures or go to balls given by the sea king?  Do they make sushi? Yeeew!  Or search for pearls and other sea treasures to adorn themselves with?  Do they go on sightseeing tours of far away seas and oceans? Do they rise to the surface to study the stars or gawk at boat loads of sailors and swim with the dolphins and sun on the rocks? What do mermaids do all day long?

Copyright 2013  All Rights Reserved Ann Gates Fiser

Ignoring the Beauty and Mystery

“Ignoring the Beauty and Mystery” (AKA Familiarity Breeds Contempt) Graphite 9″ x 12″

Have you ever noticed that no matter how beautiful or exotic your surroundings are, after a while unless you try very heard you begin to not notice.  Everything becomes common place and mundane.  One of the things I love about going away for a couple of weeks is that when I come back to the incredible beauty of the Pacific NW, it knocks my socks off all over again.  And I find myself in utter gratitude that I get to live here.

I drew this sketch as a reminder to myself to stop and really see with fresh eyes where I am and what’s around me.  In the drawing the mermaid is totally oblivious to all the wonder, mystery and beauty of the ocean floor around her.  The colorful and really exotic fish (with a little help from me), the vividly colorful plants (or least they will be when I paint them) go unnoticed.   She is utterly bored. She needs a vacation so she can see what I see.

What in your life are you ignoring, failing to see?

Copyright 2013 All rights reserved Ann Gates Fiser

#fantasy art#art#drawing#sketch#mermaid

Taking a Breather

“Taking a Breather”   12″ x 9″   Graphite

“Taking a Breather”

taking_a_breatherMeleah, like many mermaids loved to go top side to sun herself and contemplate having another existence, one where she could walk upon the land and visit exotic places that were out of reach to her in her present form.  Or she would stare at the sky and watch the flight of birds, to her they were the  fishes of the heavens,  and wish that she could join them in their utter freedom of flight.   But though these things appealed to her strongly, she was as aware as any human child of the story of the little mermaid, who traded her tail fin for legs to be with her love.  And more importantly she knew the ending of that story. How the little mermaid had been left painfully without home or love.   The story had even more impact on her because to her. and her kind, it was not a story but history,  the history that was taught to every young one in hopes that they would not make the same mistake.   So  Meleah’s longing never went any farther than a wistful daydream. 

Copyright 2013  All rights reserved  Ann Gates Fiser


A Dark Current- A Step by Step Walk Through

This painting was done for Enchanted Visions which I was recently invited to participate in. Enchanted Visions was started Amy Brown and Jessica Galbreth  who  both agreed on a title for an image and then created their own interpretation of that title, not seeing the other’s work until done.  Coriander Shea Detwiler contacted the two artists and asked if other artists could also participate.

Amy and Jessica graciously accepted the request, and Coriander set about finding and inviting like minded artists, which is how I became involved. The theme chosen for March was a “A Dark Current”.

My idea from the start was to paint a mermaid underwater. What switched in the process was the concept for how I would paint it. I first pictured very dark blue and purple water. But after thinking about it a while I decided to make it about the mood of the mermaid, to invite the viewer to wonder what the mermaid was thinking about; what she was feeling.

I started with a warm blue wash. Since this would be a painting of a mermaid underwater I wanted her skin tone to have a blue cast to it. It’s very easy to get muddy tones when using a blue undercoat, because the pinks and reds of the skin tone can combine with the blue in ways that can be less pleasant because of the transparency of watercolor.

Next I sketched in my mermaid sitting on a rock, giving her webbed hands.  I only drew in one fish, because I didn’t want a lot of activity around her to enhance  her isolation.

Already she has the beginnings of a dark expression.

Next I started painting the skin tones using raw umber with a touch of Quindacrone Coral (Daniel Smith).  It was important to leave the blue undercoat unpainted in areas where there would be shadow or reflected light.  Using the same coral I painted in her lips, and gave a warm blush to her cheeks.   Her eyes were defined with sepia and Thalo Turquoise.

Taking ultramarine and manganese blues I started painting in the water. Ultramarine for the water closest to the bottom and manganese for the water closer to the surface.  Ultramarine is a cooler blue and is a good choice for the deep water that is further from the surface light and therefor less warm in color.  Taking the same shades I painted the tail in.  Using the cooler toned ultramarine for shadows and the warmer manganese for highlights.   With both the water and the tail I went back several times gradually building up the color. When I was a beginner one of the mistakes I would make was putting paint on the paper at near full pigment strength.  This tends to make the colors dull. One of  the most important characteristics of watercolor is it’s transparency. The white paper underneath is what gives it it’s glow.  If you add color too fast you lose the transparency needed for the white to show through.

At this point I needed to use masking fluid on some of coral. You can see where I’ve circled some areas a shininess. That’s the mask. You use a mask when you need to wash in an are with color that and you have delicate areas that take too long to paint around.   When you have to take that time, your paint edges start to dry and you will get rings. Not an effect that you are shooting for.  So use masking fluid.

Now the fun starts.  I’ve now laid in all the color wash layers of the water and I’m ready to paint the sea weed. For the I used jadedite green (Daniel Smith).  For the rock she’s sitting on I used burnt umber, burnt sienna , and Van Dyck brown. In the shadow I added some of the manganese blue to cool it and because it added a bit of the local color from her tail. Light reflects color from one adjacent thing to another. I used the same colors on the rock below her and used cadmium red deep for the coral.  Lighter washes for the highlights and stronger washes for the shadows.   In the background of the water I took a slightly damp brush and lightly scrubbed out lines to indicate places where the sunlight penetrated to the ocean floor, and added some very pale blue  green seaweed. Using a pale wash in that way  makes the seaweed appear further away and like you are viewing it through the density of the water.  And then I added a light wash of yellow ochre for the sand. I added some fish with cobalt blue.  The rocks behind the seaweed on the right were painted using the same blues that I used on the water but in stronger tints, using the same idea of cool blue for the shadows and warm blues for the highlights.  So using predominantly warm colors in the background and warm colors in the foreground gives the illusion of depth and dimension.  So just to recap cool makes things recede and warm pushes things forward.  Things seen through an atmosphere, whether water or air,  will always get bluer and have less value.  This rule and good perspective will give a painting its depth. In this photo I had already started drawing in the scales on her tail.

Next I  started adding more details.  On the rocks this included shadows using carbazole violet (DS) and creating more texture and patterns with the same colors I used earlier (burnt umber, burnt sienna , and Van Dyck brown).  I painted black sea urchins on the rocks. For the brain coral I used buff titanium (DS), raw umber, and violet in the shadows.  At this point I worked a bit more on her face to define it more with shadows.  I darkened the shadows on her tail and started painting in the scales that I had drawn in earlier. Also using shades of blue to define the bottom of her tail.  I added even more shadowing to the big rock- both under her tail and on the side,  and the bottom rocks.

Next I pulled off the masking and painted the coral in shades of magenta, and the other sea plant (sorry I don’t know its name) with cadmium orange. I used I used thio violet on the coral on the bottom right and varying shades of blue in the shadows of the sand. I then went back and added more shadow to define her skin even further. I added more coral to her cheeks. I then added permanent rose to the lowest water areas  and painted in the fish.  That ‘s pretty much it for “A Dark Current”. 

Pearl the Mermaid

I painted Pearl about 6 weeks ago but I wasn’t totally happy with the way that she came out. This morning when I got up she was sitting there on my drawing table and I started painting on her again. I added more color to the water and added some red to her hair and added more pearls (mainly on her arms and some in her hair). I then put a pearl interference wash over the whites. You won’t be able to see it in the photo because you have to view the painting at least a slight angle to see it because of the way that the light must bounce off the paint to your eye. I added a blue wash to the seaweed and it made it more vibrant. And I added a bit more value to the shadows. Everything that looked bland to me before now has more punch.

I also added a highlight to the top of the fish. This served two purposes (or I guess I should say porpoises). First it gave them a more dimensional look and it made them stand out from the background.