Mermaid, Witch, & Cosmonaut Walk Into a Bar...

Mermaid, Witch, Cosmonaut Image Trio by Johnny Perez - Watercolor Paintings
Mermaid, Witch, Cosmonaut Image Trio - Watercolor - 6" x 9" respectively

Ok so maybe the mermaid doesn't walk.  But they each have a vodka tonic and exchange advice on world domination. 


This is a special trio of women that I created for a giveaway on Instagram, the likes of which you should not miss!  I worked very long hours to bring out the best of each.  I'll be doing these regularly until I'm satisfied that my work has circulated!  If you want to be in on the next giveaway, subscribe here.  Chances are I will draw my next winner from my email list.  But more on that later...


In this post I'm gonna show you some progress pictures of these works.  I'll tell you what I used and creative problems I had along the way.  I call this a "Process Lab" and you can find more posts like this, some with video, here.  Let's get started with my first giveaway prize, Mermaid!


"Mermaid"  artwork in watercolor by Johnny Perez
"Mermaid" 1 of 3 prize artworks in watercolor
Original digital sketch of "Mermaid" by Johnny Perez
Original digital sketch of "Mermaid"

What a difference a concentrated effort makes!  I sketched this out digitally on my phone because I didn't have any paper around me.  Thank you Sketch Mobile app!  A few ideas have managed to survive using this digital method.  I love to marvel at how much change happens from idea to finished product!  As you can see she originally was going to be much more monochromatic and green.   All the details don't work out until the actual sketch, and my color decisions are often made at the last minute.  I intended to paint over the pink hair with blue and green but I ended up liking the pink too much!


Many years ago I was in my dream show, Mermaids and Octopuses, held at the Bath House Cultural Center here in Dallas.  I was excited to be part of the magic there and I never thought I'd get to paint things I loved in a fine art setting.  We were always taught in art school to steer clear of cliche and especially illustration.  Not that it's bad, but it just wasn't what we were learning, its different purposes with different paths.  Anyway, illustration or not, my professor then, gave me credit in class for my work.  And she did so again the next year I entered, it was amazing.  This was all going through my mind as I set out to create a companion piece to the one I made for that show.  It was dark, and mysterious, and it sold the night the show opened much to my surprise. 

Here's one of the few shots I took of it before it hung in the gallery.  It was painted with heavy Indigo, and Metallic Electric Blue for the body of the mermaid.  My style definitely sided with illustration for this new mermaid, which was good because it meshed with the other two works in the end. 


I started out with a simple sketch you can see below.  I liked the idea of having a treasure of some sort be the cause of the glow in the work.  Recently I've been loving the look of clam shells, and last year I painted a stack of them in another artwork.  So I went with it again here, along with a giant pearl as the focus of her attention. 


I inked my lines using a micron pen.  Then I painted the background and body in colors that mixed between Pthalo Blue, Compose Green, and a little Mayan Blue Genuine.

For the hair I used Violet Grey, Rose of Ultramine, and small amount of Opera Pink.  I love Opera Pink, but its a very light sensitive color so I try to use it sparingly.  The clams are painted in Violet, Pthalo Blue, Moonglow, Indigo, and some Iridescent Sapphire, and Duochrome Mauve.  On the scales I wanted a colorful shine reflection, so I used some gel inks in hot pink, yellow, blue, and lime green.


To add to the oceanic atmosphere I threw in a few random colors, Ultramarine Blue, Gamboge Hue, Olive Green for mossy rocks, and white gel ink for shine spots and ocean cloudiness.  I'm real happy with how it turned out, and I know the winner of this is too!


"Witch" - 2nd of 3 prize artworks in watercolor by Johnny Perez
"Witch" - 2nd of 3 prize artworks
Secret Language of Birthdays
Secret Language of Birthdays

Witch was inspired by this book I have called The Secret Language of Birthdays, and various horoscope books that tend to use a very illuminated style of graphics and heavy use of blue and gold.   I would see this star and moon pattern on clothes, and tapestries, among other things, and I've always liked the look of it. 


It was mostly subconscious, as again with her hair I was going for a darker color but as I began to paint the golden undertone I wanted, I realized how great it looked with the deep blue, and and I wanted to keep it.  I wondered why it looked so familiar to me.   I did a search for cosmic patterns and saw why!  I loved it even more as it recalled all the books I'd looked at when I was younger.   I also found what might be the inspiration for those books, an illuminated text from 1411 described as the book of the birth of Iskander. 

Book of the Birth of Iskander

I found some beautiful crystal imagery, one in particular, Fluorite Crystal, inspired the large crystal in the lower right.  I know I don't need one because its a glorified paperweight in my hands, but man!  I'd love to look at it. 

Fluorite crystals from Instagram feed by @sacraluna
Fluorite crystals from Instagram feed by @sacraluna

This one was a lot of fun because I like to use Snapchat to make the faces on my art look animated.  I'll show you what that looks like toward the bottom!  Sometimes I use my art as a mask for my face, which is pretty creepy but funny. 


The colors I used for Witch were Violet Grey, Rose of Ultramarine, in the clothes.  Ultramarine Blue, Pthalo Blue in the background sky.   Gamboge Hue, and Sepia on the hair.  Compose Green on the necklace, and Quinacridone Gold to accent pendant and hair.  They crystals were the hardest to convey in such a small area, but I used some Opera Pink, Blue Grey, and R.O.U. again for the small one.  On the large one I used Violet, Indigo, Pthalo Blue, and Mayan Blue Genuine.  I threw in some pink to reflect her blouse.


"Cosmonaut" 3rd of 3 prize artworks in watercolor by Johnny Perez
"Cosmonaut" 3rd of 3 prize artworks

I've been in love with the cosmonaut scene for a while now, heavily inspired by punk afro-futurism, time travel, and the cosmos themselves.  This piece is not available, but I have others that are similar in my Store!


One of my favorite characters of all time is Storm of the X-Men, and I definitely was thinking of here during her 80's punk phase.  I started with her hair in Opera Pink, Violet, and Rose of Ultramarine.  Then I added some Ultramarine Blue low lights towards the roots. For her skin color I used a Violet Grey, and Quinacridone Gold undertone, then I went over them with Van Dyke Brown, and Sepia. Her outfit is accented with Indigo and Violet Grey.  Q-Gold again and Gamboge Hue create the gold on her outfit and backpack.


The Nebula in the background was referenced from the below photo.  I tried to do as best I could to create the cloudy colors, but its more than a little difficult to capture that beauty!  I messed up more than once, but I painted darker space and kept trying.  The end result is pretty cool, and I think it still managed to look different without sacrificing the "cosmic" effect.

That's all for now,  please let me know if there's a particular technique you want to see done, or if you like certain videos I do, let me know!  I put this up here for you guys to get what info you need to create your own works of art!  I'm happy to help.


And for those interested in my work, and getting some deals from my studio, please look below for my newsletter sign up banner.  I send 1-2 emails a month, I give out freebies now and then, and I write personal notes on what I'm doing.  Its also a good way to keep up with my new blog posts as I mention what's new on the site.   Not to mention you get a digital coloring book of my art to download, print, and color for signing up!

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I love making fantasy, surreal art that speaks to the world I grew up in.  Diverse people, multicultural backgrounds, and color!  If this is something you're interested in, please consider supporting what I do by signing up for my newsletter!  In return, you get some of my original art to download and color.  Share it with your friends, and support the arts!


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About the Artist

 I would call myself a Jack of all Trades, but mostly because I'm interested in many areas of art if not all!  I graduated with a BFA in Fine Art from the University of North Texas with a focus on Watercolor.   I always had dreams of creative writing, and in 5th grade I wasn't too bad!  Art clearly won out for my attention, but writing will always have a place in my heart!

What better way to write, I say,  than to share a blog, and practice my second love while talking about my first! With that said, I hope you all enjoy my ramblings and please hit me up with any questions.  :D  Contact me!

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