29. Mermaids

Black Mermaid lighter


Both of these pictures are in oils on canvas and they measure 76 x 56 cm.

The mythical beings called mermaids have always fascinated human beings for several millennia. The first mermaid story appeared in Assyria in about 1200 BC. A goddess called Atargtis (who was the mother of the Assyrian queen Semiramis) had fallen in love with a shepherd and unintentionally killed him. Full of remorse she threw herself into a lake and took the form of a fish but the water spirits could not conceal the divine nature of her beauty and so the first mermaid was created.

Mermaids have been associated with the Sirens from Greek Mythology. The Sirens lived on a rocky isle and used the power of song and flattering words to lure sailors to shipwreck and death. They are featured in Homer’s ‘Odyssey’ and we read how Odysseus had himself tied to the mast of his ship so he could hear the songs of the Sirens whilst his sailors had their ears blocked with wax to protect them from the seductive singing. When they drew close to the Sirens’ isle Odysseus became so enraptured by the sweet sounds that he begged his men to untie him but they had been forewarned and rowed on.

Mermaids have also been linked with other perilous events such as floods and storms. However in some folk stories mermaids are shown to be benevolent magical beings helping human kind and sometimes even falling in love. In Scottish folk lore there are many stories about Selkis, these mythological beings could change from being seals into human form by shedding there seal skin. In many of these tales female Selkis are coerced into relationships by humans who steal or hide their seal skins.

For several centuries at least they have been popular in art and literature. They are often shown in exotic settings, reclining on palm-fringed beaches or gliding through coral reefs. Despite this association with a hot climate they are usually white-skinned in the western tradition of idealized female beauty. And that is why I painted a black mermaid.

The next three pictures feature the world that exists underneath the waves. I’ve always been fascinated by coral reefs and the colourful fish that live in that environment. One of my paintings shows a mermaid in meditative mood swimming slowly on her back and surrounded by all kinds of fish with a dolphin above and a seahorse in one of her hands. She is communing with the fish and perhaps she’s offering them spiritual guidance. In the other underwater picture the mermaid is swimming into a shoal of small pink fish and she has one in each hand. At some point during the painting of this picture I realized that she is probably hunting. I like pictures to be open ended so that several interpretations may exist depending on the imagination of the viewer.



Both of these paintings are in oils on canvas. I have one print of each picture for sale, they are stretcher framed, Fine Art quality and signed 73 x 40 cm 150 GDP each.

The final painting was a commission. I was asked to paint my client’s girlfriend’s portrait onto the picture that shows the mermaid swimming into various shoals of fish.This picture is in oils and it measures 30″ x 20″.

Azad mermaid latest


Author: Colin's Art Blog

Self employed artist living in Hackney in London.

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