If I Rock Upon The Waves, Then No Corpse Can Lie Upon Me

I took me two weeks but I finally finished that big piece. Last week was kind of a wash, so I did most of the work on the weekend and once again messed my hand up painting scales for like 10 hours. Here are a couple photos of it. I'm still figuring out how to get something this big scanned:
This is the Melusine, a (often) twin tailed serpent woman from Medieval European literature and folklore. She married a mortal while in human form with the stipulation that he never see her bathing every Saturday. Naturally, he peeked and saw her in her serpent form at which point she flew away (in some stories she can still be found roaming as serpent or beautiful woman with a golden key in her mouth). The idea of mortals marrying gods and supernatural creatures is present in a lot of myths and stories, and usually comes with some caveat like this, and pretty much always ends poorly. The twin tailed mermaid image is also used as an alchemical symbol, and in heraldic imagery:
Here she is fleeing the castle:
When I was planning this out I wanted to make some nod to the medieval habit of using arbitrary scale in artwork, presenting a building as tall as a person, focusing more on narrative than realistic presentation. I also combined my idea for the Melusine sketch with a sketch I did based on a Robert E. Howard poem, the Singer in the Mist.

"At birth a witch laid on me monstrous spells,
And I have trod strange highroads all my days,
Turning my feet to gray, unholy ways.
I grope for stems of broken asphodels;
HIgh on the rims of bare, fiend-haunted fells,
I follow cloven tracks that lie ablaze;
And ghosts have led me through the moonlight's haze
To talk with demons in the granite hells.

Seas crash upon dragon-guarded shores,
Bursting in crimson moons of burning spray,
And iron castles ope to me their doors,
And serpent-women lure with harp and lay.
The misty waves shake now to phantom oars—
Seek not for me; I sail to meet the day. "

If I haven't recommended his poetry before, I am now. 50% of it is about werewolves.

So, I've noticed that Pelikan Plaka is becoming less and less available and decided to start trying out a few new kinds of paint. My two biggest requirements are that it have a matte finish, and be opaque with a high level of pigment. Also water soluble.
I got a couple jars of this Turner Neo Color and so far I'm really into it. I will admit I was drawn in by the labels which don't seem to have changed since it was first intruduced in the 60's and by the fact that it comes in fairly large jars (and can also be purchased in what are basically small buckets). It's made for sign painting and design much like Plaka, but is a bit more fluid, cheaper, and doesn't have the same alarming chemical smell. It also doesn't build as quickly on the paper so the finished product is relatively free of all that pesky texture which bothers me so much.
I also tried out some of this Acryl Gouache. It's pretty cool but a bit more expensive and less fluid than the neo color, but with really bright opaque colors. Not bad! I'll still be bummed if Plaka disappears altogether though, because somehow their black is the BLACKEST and that's essential.

Anyway, I'm hoping to crank out two more pieces before doing all the framing and whatever else I think I can squeeze in before the show. Listening to Fever Ray and getting weird. Bleh!


Kati said...

Yesss. This is all awesome.

Tamara Waite-Santibanez said...

Looking so killer, it's awesome to see you working bigger too! I've tried Pelican Plaka upon your recommendation and found it to be kind of hard to work with, since it's so thick. Any tips? Also have you tried Rapidograph ink, the Univeral? It's definitely my go-to because it's really fluid, but opaque- like, you can burn screens right from drawings opaque. It's not that fun straight on paper but it would probably be really good on top of other inks or acrylics!

ALSO, would you be into doing a painting trade sometime?

wandering genie said...

Hey Tamara!

Plaka is super weird and thick, which I guess is partly why I like it. It's sort of hard to explain but I usually have a little bit of it in a teeny tiny mixing container diluted to the perfect point with water and add a little bit as it starts to dry out and congeal. I do a lot of little tests with my brush before I put lines down on the actual painting to make sure it's fluid but not a wash. If that makes sense. I'm always sort of struggling to keep things opaque with a high "pigment load" (heh) but be able to have nice line quality since I don't really do washes or blending.

haha I absurdly also sometimes use a liquid black ink to dilute black plaka instead of water so it's fluid and doesn't get any lighter.

I haven't used rapiograph ink (out of a pen) before actually. Maybe I'll pick up a bottle. I bet it would be great with a brush.

And I'd love to do a painting trade!! After this show I can let you know what I have floating around or make something new since I'll have some time.