Here are a few shots of my large acrylic Mermaids in Atlantis painting as it progresses from firstly a wash in greens and pthalo blues, with acrylic drying retarder mixed in with water to give a watercolour effect:
Then, in the second shot I have marked out all the figures and large details in white chalk, which is easy to wipe off with a damp cloth. I begin to block in the basic colours of the larger elements in the composition.
Recently, I had the honour of receiving a wonderful commission to paint a large format composition of a fantasy theme.
My enthusiastic American patron and his wife have commissioned me to paint a 6 foot x 6 foot (nearly 2 meter x 2 meter) painting on canvas of two whimsical mermaids swimming through the undersea ruins of ancient Atlantis. For those of you who are familiar with my work, I have only really painted small scale watercolours, though I have explored at times acrylic and oils. After some hesitation and much encouragement from my patrons, I took up the challenge to paint this beautiful theme on a large scale, and I am so glad I did!
Here are the beginnings of the painting (after a photo of the initial sketch), which is acrylic on polyester canvas sheet which provides optimal surface smoothnes, pinned to a makeshift board kindly constructed by my ever-supportive Dad. I am using acrylics as watercolours; relying on the wonderful Acrylic Drying Retarder by Australian paint makers Derivan for adhesion and flow upon the canvas. It is an enriching experience for which I am very grateful- now that I know I can paint as big as this with the same dreaminess and ethereal quality for which my watercolours are known, I will be exploring painting large canvases and posting them for sale on my Online Shop…
Here is a painting sketch of what the finished work will look like and I will post stages of development of the painting as it progresses!
I am currently on an extended stay in my home country of South Africa, re-connecting with my family and taking in the exquisitely vibrant countryside for inspiration and new developments.
I stopped off on our travels around the beautiful Eastern Cape province into the tiny and little known township Neiu Bethesda in the dry Karoo region. The only reason one would do this is thanks to an incredibly visionary woman called Helen Martins. This amazing but extremely isolated outsider artist lived here up until 1976 when she took her own life due to her failing eyesight and subsequent struggle to realise her creative urges.
Her life here was made known by the wonderful South African writer Athol Fugart in his play (and resulting Hollywood film) The Road to Mecca. Helen left a treasure of art and imagination in her tiny home and backyard, some of which can be seen in the photos below. It is now called The Owl House.
What captivated me the most about her ethereal realm was the care and vivid imagination that went into creating it. She lived this creation every day; she slept and dreamt within its luminescent walls and smiling, whimsical faces of the creatures she had conjured up from cement, wire, beer bottles and pieces of discarded ephemera…and then she gave them life and showed them to us.
Thank you dear Miss Helen for such a joyful gift from such a lonely but inspired heart….