6 years ago Posted in: Blog Comments Off on Mermaids

black_mermaid_final_v3_webreadyThe mythical beings called mermaids have fascinated human beings for several millennia. The first mermaid story appeared in Assyria in about 1000 BC. A goddess called Atargtis (who was the mother of the Assyrian queen Semiramis) had fallen in love with a shepherd and unintentionally killed him. Full of remorse she threw herself into a lake and took the form of a fish but the water spirits could not conceal the divine nature of her beauty and so the first mermaid was created.

Mermaids have been associated with the sirens from Greek mythology. The sirens lived on rocky islands and used the power of song to lure sailors to shipwreck and death. Mermaids have also been associated with shipwrecks and other perilous events such as floods and storms. However in some folk stories mermaids are shown to be benevolent magical beings helping human kind and sometimes falling in love.

For several centuries at least they have been popular in art and literature. In art mermaids are often shown in exotic settings, reclining on palm-fringed beaches or gliding through coral reefs. Despite this association with a hot climate they are usually white women in the western tradition of idealized female beauty.mermaid_bathing_final_v3_webready

So far I’ve painted four pictures featuring mermaids. Only one of them conforms to the conventional view of a mermaid. I painted my black mermaid to try and counter balance the tendency to always see mermaids as being white.

My other two paintings go underwater. I’ve always been fascinated by coral reefs and the colourful fish that live in that environment. One of my paintings shows a mermaid in meditative mood swimming slowly on her back and surrounded by all kinds of fish with a dolphin above and a seahorse in one of her hands. She is communing with the fish and perhaps she’s offering them spiritual guidance.

In the other underwater picture the mermaid is swimming into a shoal of small pink fish and she has one in each hand. At some point during the painting of this picture I realized that she is probably hunting. I like pictures to be open ended so that several interpretations may exist depending on the imagination of the viewer.mermaid_and_dolphin_final_v3_webreadymermaid_and_fishes_final_v3_webready


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