24 in X 36 in
Oil on Canvas
It is rather amazing to me that I have not painted mermaids before this. I have only drawn a few over the years despite enjoying many stories paintings and movies about mermaids throughout my life. They are a recurring dream symbol for me with both positive and negative representations depending on my inner emotional landscape. As I set out to paint this painting, I was thinking what it might look like if these mermaids were living on the shores of Hawaii. I have designed seaweed and shell lei and fashion for them keeping in mind local limu (seaweed) and shells and the beautiful creations of indigenous fashion from nature. I think mermaids might enjoy sometimes wearing pieces of clothing they make from the sea using shells and seaweed and other found items, much as people always gather and create clothing from surroundings by weaving or stringing or arranging natural elements. I would imagine these beautiful women would do likewise underwater. They do not wear clothing because they must, but just for expression. The middle mermaid is completely unadorned which is an important aspect of mermaid lore. I think there is something very freeing about the clothing-optional dress code in mermaid depictions. Mermaids have always had freedom from human social expectations – this is why they exist. They are women who swim free on their own terms and they go places where the rest of us can only dream of going. They are powerful and elusive. It’s part of what makes them the symbol of the unconscious mind. They are unknowable, uncontrollable, mysterious creatures of water, symbols of femininity and mysterious depths. Water is a great symbol of the unconscious mind, and mermaids swim through this realm unhindered. They can be benevolent or powerfully dangerous. I think these particular mermaids are not ones to enjoy drowning sailors. They live in such a beautiful place and there are many other things to do! In the dreamworld they live in, they have hundreds of years to enjoy the wonders of the ocean without daily practicalities to cloud their enjoyment. These are mermaids on the healthy side of my emotional spectrum. They are at peace with the world. I love all the mermaids admittedly, even the hostile ones, but these are sweet, beautiful mermaids of the sparkling shallows, reflecting the peace I have obtained recently. Here, they are are together as a trio on the shoreline sitting on rocks strewn with limu (seaweed) just enjoying their time together. I have always loved mermaids and the older I get the more I understand the fuller picture of why they are such an appealing concept. It is this freedom and mystery that will keep my imagination and my dreams returning to mermaids time and time again.
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