Accentuating the sinister is certainly popular these days. And the ocean’s vastness contains many dark and scary things. (Heck, if we really wanted to go over to the dark side, I could even paint Darth Vader going by on a Jet Ski.)
But the ocean is also a giver of life. Life, birth, …the Birth of Venus! Wow. Botticelli’s most famous Birth of Venus image (“Venus on the Half Shell”, as it were) would jazz up the whole scene, and play beautifully off the ripieno paintwork already on the car..
Even better, look at this ravishing Naissance de Venus by Alexandre Cabanel, from 1863 – Not only is the nude Venus intrinsically lovely, but she embodies a nineteenth century ideal – sort of a midpoint between the well-upholostered nudes of Reubens and the hard bodied ideal of today. I have already knocked myself out getting a perfect likeness of another quintessentially nineteenth century nude by Cabanel’s rival and cohort, Bourguereau.
Painting this nude by Cabanel would be a familiar challenge and a pleasure.
Those beautifully realized putti, that form a rainbow over her recumbent form — not only do they suggest her fecundity, but also fend off any suggestion of vulgarity.
…one cannot overlook the power of the sinister in our current culture. Remember, Ben Franklin’s proposal of the turkey as national bird was turned down in favor of celebrating a carrion-eating predator. Today we find skull imagery everywhere, rescuing designs – like in men’s clothing – from being judged as nelly, cute, femme, lightweight, and inconsequential.
Now I’m gonna do what I’m gonna do. Just saying, if a skull or two doesn’t hurt the big picture, I might just toss them in as insurance against #unintendedjudgments. Also, a hint of the sinister might open the door to shipwreck themes. Hmmm.
My pencil visualization of mermaids disporting in the ocean with a sea creature, suggesting their undulations in the flowing waves…
The car’s seascapes now range in color from deep blue, like ultramarine, to a lighter blue with a green tint faded in. It gives, I think, a dramatic focus in these areas. I foresee the mermaid tails, painted with a range of blue-greens, playing off the background waves’ color to a similar dramatic effect.
Mermaids are said to have no souls in their natural state. And they are, one would assume, cold-blooded from the waist down. I would paint them as such. Show them as graceful and intelligent creatures — perhaps playing and swimming like dolphins — but quite removed from humanity.
Their otherness might even have sinister overtones…..
In addition to seascape painting, the “Rolling Surf” art car already includes a pair of mermaids I sculpted to hold rear view mirrors.
mermaid sculptures in progress
Adding more mermaids – in the waves, or riding sea creatures – offer great possibilities, both decorative and thematic. Here are three brilliant examples by other artists, which show how mermaids could arise out of sea foam, or swim dramatically through the surging waves ….