Below is a step-by-step description on how I developed "The Pearl".
STEP 1. Put some ideas on to paper. Make sketches. (Sometimes, I end up making the
rejected sketch also into another painting.)
STEP 1.a. Second sketch done. Selected for painting. I like her breasts.
STEP 2. Transfer the drawing on to a 20"x24" stretched canvas. Sometimes there are small adjustments made to the image when laid on the canvas. In this case, cover the breasts a bit to put a bit of "mystery" to her chest. But the real reason is of a more "prudish" nature. The mermaid's a bit too shy. :-) Oh, and I am still thinking whether the whole scene would be under the light of the moon or in daylight. Or perhaps a gloomy sky before a storm. Let's see what would evolve.
STEP 3. Paint the base colors. Although I have a general idea of the main final colors I'd use, I just let the colors "evolve" as I go along. However, I like to begin by applying a darker base paint to cover the main image grounds - like the sea and sky. Why? I exclusively use acrylic and as I apply the lighter colors later, I can chose to let the darker base paint "peek" through - or not. It'd depend on how this evolves.
STEP 4: Here's an example on how colors "evolve" as I go along with a painting. Facing my window, it was rather gloomy outside and it somehow found its reflection on the colors I chose for the sky - not the blue hues we generally associate a clear sky with. i like the way that it is "fluffy" and blown wave-like towards the horizon. I also began doing the water. I use Turqouise Pthalo Blue to color the waves. I'm still a bit iffy with it, but I'll see as to how it would later relate to the mermaid's color.
STEP 5: The leaves and the blue tree. How often does one see a blue tree anyway? Not that often and as rare as one would see a mermaid. I applied "Sap Green Hue" for the base color for the leaves. I would later build on each individual leaf body with "Pthalo Green (yellow shade) and Naples Yellow Deep with a dab of Titanium White and Primary Yellow to give it that roundish look. For the blue tree trunk I use Blue Hoggar (I wonder who came up with that name, it sounds so "macho" with an "umphf" and the color has that "electric" feel to it) tempered with Pthalo Blue and accented with Titanium White and a dash of Naples Yellow Deep here and there.
STEP 6: The waves, the tail and the leaves are done. I like the idea that the tail echoes the color of the leaves. I used Titanium White for the tail tip giving it a dynamic green gradient and showing the curling. Using Pthalo Blue richly on the edges of the waves and highlighting each with Naples Yellow gives it a rich surreal feel.
STEP 7: Even with the torrential rains pouring outside and opening up my place to friends for refuge, I still managed to continue with this painting. The mermaid now has her mane of orange hair.
STEP 8: If there is one thing peculiar or distinct with all my figures - it is the way I paint the eyes. With each figure I draw or paint, I want to achieve that 'soulful' set of eyes that can convey the story of the whole image. The gesture of the hand, the placement of the feet or the sway of a hip can tell the event of that particular moment, but it is the eye that narrates the story and the emotions, and gives it that soul I always look for in an image.
STEP 9: The pearl has been painted. I chose to simply paint it with titanium white instead of the new-fangled pearlized acrylic I was tempted to use. Methinks it works better to keep it straight and simple. This is also the part when ones excitement builds up and with a few more strokes the painting is done.
She, the mermaid, has emerged. The fisherman is with his catch. The only thing lacking...is the cache of fish.
The Pearlacrylic on canvas
20" x 24"
STEP 10: "The Pearl" is now done.
Finished the fish in the net, placed my signature, and just letting it stand for a couple of days before I put on the paint varnish. Let it fully dry for a couple more days and then she is ready to be rolled and shipped.