Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Catch: A Journey

Alright, I decided that I like the title "The Catch." This is the celebration post. Here, I review what came before and how I came to the finished image we have now.

The first 'octowoman' I made was for a girl.

I said, 'I want to paint you. You want to be painted as a mermaid?'

'No,' came the reply, 'I want to be like Ursela.'

So I painted this.
Ursela 9x12" Acrylic. She liked it. It was nowhere near my best work, but the concept had potential. If you were a young octowoman who eventually became an evil witch, were you always like that? What caused you to be bad, eventually? Or is the concept of 'good' and 'bad' contextual? Animals kill accidentally sometimes out of curiosity and survival. It is not murder. So no animal can really be considered 'evil.'

Well, Jaws was evil.

So I thought a moody piece that kept the motives of the central character murky would help this concept grow into a better idea. I did this little sketch for fun.
Grette 8x10" Oil. This was a creature that may not be evil but she was certainly scary. There appears to be a deep-sea diving helmet in the darkness beside her. Originally, this was just a design choice. When I put the helmet in, though, I realized it gave her a story. Did she collect that helmet? Did she find it? Was the diver still alive when she took the helmet? Was this an act of animal curiosity or directed animosity? I liked the ambiguity that the painting had.
The Dark Pearl 36x48" Oil. I wanted to relate her even more to the helmet, and give her a pet. She is obviously affectionate with this angler fish, and so she cannot be ALL bad, regardless of your interpretation of her intentions. This painting also grew its own story as I painted it. So many things changed, and I painted it over fully at least three times. She still has many features that could be considered gross or alien, but I made other aspects of her beautiful. Sadly, this painting is much less dynamic than the color study. My intention is that every viewer comes up with his or her own story.

My story goes like this: She encountered the diver when he was still alive. Curious and elated, she approached him. The diver accidentally cut his air hose in his shock at seeing her and realizing what she was. When he crumpled to the ocean floor, she didn't quite understand. In the painting, she is waiting for him to wake up. Sad, right?
The Catch 11x17" Digital. I knew I wanted to revisit the octopus woman. As both a writer and an artist, I have a love for female leads. Especially strong, independent ladies. How many movies have we all seen where the woman is simply the prize to be won or the 'really nice lady that needs saved.' I wanted a woman who was dominant, confident, and in charge. In "The Dark Pearl," she was too passive. Even in my interpretation of the story, she is waiting on the other partner to fulfill her in some way. This time I wanted my woman to be curious, dangerous, but all her own.

She is like a muse here: grabbing the diver and holding him helpless, as she cracks open the helmet to take a peek. Inspiration at its most insistent.  I took this painting and applied one of my old art school assignments to it: Opposites. In this painting, I have at least three conflicting themes. Beauty vs. Beast. Organic vs. Inorganic. Above vs. Below. I wanted the viewer to feel the depth and darkness of the water, and as they scroll up, the sunlight should be a literal breath of fresh air.

Maybe another two years down the road I'll take what I've learned and the stories that I've told, and it will be different enough to make a new painting. Perhaps I will revisit my little cephalo-siren.

P.S. I want to thank the model who helped me with "The Catch." She is absolutely beautiful, a talented model, and a wonderful person to boot. So thank you.

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