Recently I had the awesome opportunity to create a polymer clay mermaid sculpture. This commision was to be a gift for a lover of all things beach related — especially flip-flops! So how do you make that work?
Mermaids Don’t have Feet…
I incorporated flip-flops with a mermaid by illustrating the idea that the mermaid, who has no feet, might have found those flip-flops in the sand and seaweed, washed up on some rocks perhaps, and is returning them to their owner. A fanciful thing to imagine.
The way this was done was by utilizing both clay and natural items in combination. Her little teeny tiny clay fingers are covered in sand, as are the shoes. She carries the shoes and presents them to her owner on a half shell, surrounded by sand and “seaweed.”
Her seashell is removeable and she can hold other items in her hands, if desired. This opens up the opportunity to change things up once in a while!
So, How’d Ya Make It?
Below are a few photos of the process. The entire sculpture was only eleven inches high. This was definitely time consuming, and tricky at times, but super fun to make.
My video tutorial (which isn’t really a how-to, rather, a basic rundown of the process) shows a lot of the early parts of the creation, from creating the wire armature, to making those tiny little ‘flops! Enjoy!
One of the things mentioned in the video is that, yes, I do have MS (Multiple Sclerosis.) I don’t mention it often, but here I think it may be inspiring for others with illness.
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Decorative tile, hand painted with a rockabilly, TIKI theme. Old school tattoo art style.
This item is an ORIGINAL set of art. Any future listings with these designs will be prints of this original art.
The art is drawn on the tile and then clear coated for protection.
See them here at the shop!
Check out our shop for loads more art, home decor, purses, and pin-striped & retro items!
I (Deanna) recently started doing some original art on coasters. Each one takes several hours to complete and is absolutely original.
If I make new sets of these images, it will be from these originals.
This is my first set, which sold before I had a chance to list it at our shop.
The newest set (original) is Tiki themed, complete with Tiki Gods, Mermaid and hula dancer. You can see that here.
Check out our shopfor loads more art, home decor, purses, and pin-striped & retro items!
Here’s a little look into my world of illustration.
This is a pictorial view of my process of painting.
The subject is one of my most recent pinup girls, who is now available in 5×7 prints and as note cards.
I have always found that people enjoy seeing an artists work in process. In 2012 I had a gallery exhibition which was entirely based upon that theme. That show was centered around my children’s book portfolio, but it’s the same idea, same process, same technique.
This pinup was a lot of fun to do. She started as a doodle one night in bed. I did a quick sketch of a plush shark. He came out so cute I thought he needed a little girl friend so next I designed the mermaid to go with him. I wanted it to be tongue in cheek. An “odd couple.”
After a few initial thumbnails (actually, the shark needed only one thumbnail. He went straight from thumbnail to final, with no alterations, which is unusual) I get to work on the sketches. I rough it out a few times to get anatomy and facial features right.
I liked the idea of her fishtail having VonDutch style flames, sort of a shout out to my artist fatherbut also to the Rockabilly/Hot Rod/Pinup/Kustom culture scene in general.
Once I felt confident about the sketches I scanned the shark and the mermaid in to my computer. This allowed me to reduce or enlarge their size as needed. This step was necessary because they were drawn, as sketches are very random creations, at different sizes, not suited to be next to one another. By scanning them and playing with them digitally I could manipulate their sizes and rotate as needed. When they looked nice together I made a print of them and took that to my light table.
The light table and using the computer as stated above are tricks to keeping your project flow moving fast. I don’t have months to paint one image so I utilize my tools to the best of my advantage. If my sketch looks exactly the way it needs to, why draw it again to make it larger, etc? There are always refinements that happen on the final paper, but it is quicker this way and less hassle.
When transferred to the final paper in pencil, I then added the background. Naughty, naughty me – I had no plans whatsoever for this environment except that it would obviously be under water. I think about composition and kind of just let my imagination take over at that stage of the game. After pencil sketches are done, the whole thing gets ink.
By the way – that artist’s tape in these pictures is pretty awful. I think it was a Michael’s off brand. I got it because I had a gift card and I thought it should be the same quality as my usual Artists Pro tape seeing as how it was the same price. No, no and more no. You’ve been warned.
It was a last minute conversation with a Facebook friend (I often post my images to my Facebook while I work to get opinions from friends) that inspired the leopard print tail and the fiery red hair.
The next images show the progression of painting. I think I paint with watercolor ‘wrong’. At least based on what I was taught, but it works for me. I was told once by a professor that I hold my paintbrush like a pencil, and it’s true. I don’t really care. I do sort of ‘draw’ with the brush. Well, anyway, I block in major areas of color first. Like the sky or in this case, water. I use a colorless masking fluid to block out areas which I don’t want to get any paint on yet by accident. It’s fun to peel off. If you were one of those odd children of the eighties who peeled Elmer’s glue off your hands to see your fingerprints, you’ll get the idea of fun I’m talking about. I’m weird.
Continuing the layering of paint process, I add light layers to build up light and shadow. I think a lot about my light source and where it is coming from. Somewhere once I read a quote from Trina Schart Hyman that helped me:
“Illustrator Garth Williams inspired me to think about light. I was illustrating Snow White when he came to Lyme for a visit. During his stay, he would often look over my shoulder while I worked. ‘You must think more about and in terms of light and light source,’ he told me one day. ‘Light can create drama—light means everything in illustration.’ He was right. I began to open my eyes, and study light.”
When the image is finished it gets scanned once again and I really do very little digital editing, only what is necessary as there is always a small amount of quality loss when digitizing art. Levels are adjusted and
sharpness corrected but usually little more.
Once it’s digitized I can get it ready for print!
So there you have it, folks!
— Deanna Meyer at Grease and Grace Art Designs
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