Hi ho lovelies,

In my quest to settle into regular posts, I am starting a new feature: Art In Depth.  I’ll get into the details of selected pieces of art.

But first, a little trip in the Way Back Machine. All the way back to the mid-1980s, when I was in college, where I minored in Art History. I forget the professor’s name (Fitzgerald? Fitzgibbon?), but I remember his method: show hundreds of slides in an hour. Remember slides? He taught most of the art history classes and I took them all, from Ancient Greek through mid-20th Century.  What kept me going back was the massive brain dump of art – I turned off the wordy chattering part of my brain and let the flood of images wash over me. I enjoy most of styles of art, although I admit that I didn’t get abstract art until I started painting. Some of my favorite artists are: Degas, Van Gogh, Goya, Turner, Bosch, Carvaggio, Renoir, the Impressionists, the Italian Rennaissance, Ancient Greeks, Chagall, Gauguin. Yeah, I pretty much love all art.  I am fascinated by the fact you can give a group of people the same art supplies and each will come up with something different.

The first piece of art in the series is an deeper dive into “Mermaid, After Chagall.”

If you’ve been a reader of this blog for a while, you know that I love taking on-line art classes with Tamara Laporte of Willowing Arts. One of the first classes I took was Magical Mythical Makings. Each lesson is a painting of a mythical creature inspired by a famous artist.

Tam’s lessons always pack a lot of information and inspiration and this one, Week 4, Mermaids & Chagall is no exception. There are 5 in-depth, step-by-step videos and 3 pdf files, which includes a step-through and journal prompts. The goal of the lesson was to “make a Chagall inspired mermaid or whimsy mermaid.”

I collected images of Chagall paintings and mermaids on this Pinterest board.  Chagall liked to include horses and chickens into his paintings. The painting that most inspired me for this was “The Blue Circus” The lady on the trapeze reminded me of a mermaid.

In addition to her usual materials (Neocolors, acrylics, graphite pencil, gesso, brayer), Tam painted one of her Chagall-inspired mermaids on a wood panel and heavily embellished it with Golden gold mica flakes – she doesn’t offer prints of this mermie in her shop nor could I find a picture on her blog so I can’t share photos of this mermie.  The other is mermaid is placed on a horizontal page and you can check her out here in Tam’s shop.

Being a baby artist, I had few art supplies when I made this painting, so I worked with the supplies on hand. My mermie is painted on 9×12 watercolor paper and I used acrylics, Prisma color pencils and a black Pitt pen.  I was still working with Prismapencils over acrylic paint.  The moon was painted with Ranger paint dabber in Pearl Metalic. I don’t recall what I used for the background – it was probably the dark blue in the Peerless watercolor complete edition book, with salt sprinkled in the wet paper and left to dry then brushed off. The tail was painted with the greens from the Lumiere exciter pack.

Here is the original image:


Since mermies are mythological creatures, I have free rein with regard to anatomy, proportions, facial features. In taking a closer look at this painting for this post, I noticed her eyes.  Rather than have rounded tear ducts, I brought hers to a point. I like the raw, scribbly-ness of the piece, the doodled-leaves that turn into a horse, the texture of the salted paper, the scratchiness of the colored pencils.

If you look closely at the original version, you can see the orange pencil lines I used to lay in her face and her hair doesn’t quite hide her skull. These didn’t bother when I initially posted the print for sale in my Etsy shop. However, I recently sold this print and when I ran the print, I found these little things bothered me.  I loaded the image up in GIMP and went to work.  I added 2 layers: a color enhance layer, which deepened the colors.  I added a third layer to fix the little things that bug me in the original: smudge and blend the pencils lines, add some highlights around the face and darken her hair.


Mermaid, after Chagall

8″x10″ art print, with 11″x14″ white matte and backing board. Price includes shipping.


Please note that you are purchasing the edited/enhanced version of the print, which has more depth and deeper color. Colors vary by monitor. The Gimp-enhanced version described above is the file used to print. The original work is not for sale.

Sometimes I copy the teacher’s lesson and other times, I’m inspired and go off on my own tangent.  I’m not going to dive into artistic copyright, save to say I take it seriously. When I decided to start selling my work, I needed a way to keep my class art separate from my own creations. I use a 9″x12″ Leuchterm 1917 journal just for art classes. The paper takes collage and acrylics very well and has about 250 pages. Each page is labelled with the class, lesson number and teacher. Keeping the class journal allows me to go back to the lesson and compare my work to the teacher’s work before I sell prints.

In a future post, I’ll review the class that helped me edit my scanned works: Jane Davenport’s Print & Scan class.  I need to finish it first. 🙂

Happy creating!