Last Christmas I shared a collection of watercolor paintings I’d created in the mid 1990s as part of a proposal for a line of collectible figurines and as all the paintings were produced in a two month period, Myrmaids ended up a strong, cohesive body of work. Unfortunately the follow-up project ended up spread across a nine year period and didn’t turn out as well, so my goal for 2018 was to rework Informal Fairies into something just as nice as my first concept.
That’s when my wonderful idea was savagely struck down by cold, cruel reality. I’m twenty years older than the David that painted those undersea ladies , and I can’t handle a brush as well. I’ve developed a tremor that periodically quiets down but the truth is I cannot consistently handle a paint brush anymore. I can use a pencil, pen, marker, X-acto knife – anything that can make contact with the working surface and steady my hand but when I paint there’s a 50/50 chance I’ll end up with something that could have been done by Monet.
…so I have to change my creative gears
This Vision Fairy is the source of all your broken glasses and lost contacts. She was first rendered on an 11″X17″ sheet of white paper using various ink pens – Flairs, gel pens, Micron-Pigmas and Sharpies. I had the image copied onto salmon-colored paper which was then colored/embellished with a pencil like a drawing done on a toned ground. I used colored pencil, Micron-Pigma pens, Prismacolor designers’ markers, and acrylic paint – but the more intensely white/light colored areas are pieces of white paper cut to shape and mounted with spray adhesive – gives it a nice POP that works a lot better when you see the actual artwork.
The marbilized paper used in the background graphic device is also David-made.. Every couple of months I barricade myself in the shop and spend a day making a supply of the stuff to draw on later.
It took me a moment to do the math.
The other day a student asked me it there had been one single person, place, thing or critter that I had drawn more than any other and it took me a little time to figure it out. Thirty years ago I would have had a very quick answer – soldiers, starships or giant fighting robots – but now things are a little different. I actually do more drawing for demonstrations in class than at my drawing board for money.
…and more often than not I’ll draw a sea turtle, putting it to double duty as I first draw the image then ink it with brush or pen. I think I did my first sea-turtle demonstration for my very first illustration class during the Spring 1989 semester at Kenai Peninsula College and it’s become a tradition for me over the years since then.
This particular sea turtle will be part of my collection at jimmo.shirts this Christmas.
Classy is the twelfth – and for now – last Myrmaid in the series and combines the common bottlenose dolphin with a 1980’s So-Cal beach-bunny look. Classy is also one of the few Myrmaids whose features are based on someone close to me…but you’ll have to guess!
There may be more Myrmaids in the future depending on the response I get and the sales jimmoshirts.com makes. I have another line of figures titled “Informal Faeries” that I am in the process of reworking – if everything falls together and the copyright comes back clean I should be posting them sometime this next spring.
As I’ve been checking and scanning this morning it has occurred to me that pairing up a Copper-banded Butterfly Fish with a young lady from Southeast Asia works on more than one level. It’s very pleasing combination visually…and “Copper-banded Butterfly Fish” is just so much fun to say!
So what to we have going here today?
- Pretty Irish girl.
- Spotted dolphin.
- Bad pun.
Fairly standard for me, even if it is a Monday.
Designing a Myrmaid for Central America was a little harder than I expected – there really isn’t the wide range of shapes and colors that you find in the Red Sea or the waters around South-East Asia or Indonesia. I’ve also struggled with a name that really fits, toggling back and forth between “Baja” and “Abish”. In the end I decided to opt for the familiar pose of a young lady using a reflector to insure an even tan while sun-bathing, but clad in classical MesoAmerican costume to help set the location.
I wish I could claim this terrible pun-name as my own idea, but it actually first came about as the title of an illustration I did in 1991 for a fantasy-themed calendar loaded with similar puns. Unfortunately the financial backing fell through…
The flowing fins and tail of a goldfish evoke the idea of traditional Chinese court dress and work well with this oriental beauty. Despite my status as a UT alumni I have to confess that orange is not a color I usually personally wear or use in my work…but in this case it works out quite nicely.
To demonstrate flexibility in the Myrmaids line I also designed a pair of companion pieces for Maree, entitled “HorseShoe” and HorseCents”.
I haven’t really looked at either one of these images in several years – and when you revisit your own work after a gap like that you either love it or hate it. In this case the images are a lot better than what I had pictured in my mind’s eye.
I might even do a sculpt!
On another note: While I gave the Myrmaids fairly generic “pretty girl” faces I incorporated hair, gesture, pose and overall features of actual people. As her genetic heritage includes a small measure of Gallic DNA I based our French Myrmaid Maree on my smoking hot child bride Lori. Kris Station was based in part of Maria Howard, a good friend of my sons during their high school years and a sort of adopted niece to Lori and I.
I thought about having a contest to see if anyone could figure who was based on who – but given the wide range* of female friends I’ve made over the course of my career it would be pretty tough to identify them all.
(* wide in terms of years, numbers and geographical location)
Family ties prompt me to say that she is Athabascan, but geography mandates Tlingit, Haida, Denina or any other tribe living around the Gulf of Alaska. I’ve paired her with an orca, a majestic sea mammal that I love. There’s something about that graphic black and white coloring that appeals to the designer in me, and in my studies I’ve found a lot to admire, especially with orcas that are part of resident pods.
Sharee is our first American Myrmaid – from New York City to be precise. In line with the competitive nature of the Big Apple she has been paired with a shark.
It was either that or a jet
I want to emphasize again that t-shirts, hoodies and mugs bearing these young ladies are available at jimmoshirts.com. Just click on the URL at left or you go directly to my collection at the URL below: