Treasure is my favorite subject, and mermaids have been haunting me since I was a child. I’ve been planning to create an underwater portrait for a long time. This is not my first underwater painting dedicated to mermaids, but here I finally managed to tie it all together: a beautiful girl with a lot of experience in diving, a stylish tail, toy treasures, and, of course, the turquoise water of the Maldives.
The girl Lisa became my muse and model. She worked as a manager at the Anantara resort in the Maldives. This resort invited me to spend a month in one of the wonderful villas on their paradise island. They provided my assistant and me not only with luxury accommodation and the best restaurants but also with all possible assistance from the part of the dive center.
So, I could create paintings without worrying about anything. Then I held mini-exhibitions of my latest works. I got acquainted with Lisa while we were discussing the details of my Maldives tour by the way of correspondence. She was responsible for PR and in general, was making everything possible to make my visit beneficial to the “Anantara” group of resorts.
I liked Lisa from the first minute of our acquaintance. And when it turned out that she was also an experienced diver and wanted to try herself as an underwater model, we immediately took advantage of her day off and went to the sea. Backstage was provided by her friend who worked as the resort’s security chief, so our security was provided at the highest possible level. Why do I need a separate person on the backstage? Well, you can’t swim far wearing the tail with a tank under your arm. And walking on the beach with the attached tail can be rather hard.
An underwater portrait is not the same as a photo portrait created on a by-order basis. In the modern world, a photographically accurate portrait is less and less in demand. A good camera and photoshop can do wonders. The underwater portrait gives you an opportunity to capture your special states of mind.
Lisa’s figure under the water has changed slightly, her skin has turned green, and her hands and especially fingers have visually lengthened. They seemed to be reaching for the pearl beads scattered on the sand. One string of beads is already clenched into a fist, and the other hand is raking in more beads. Carefree fish with curious faces were scurrying around, checking whether there was something here for them.
Indeed, my shiny props attract the fish. Black-and-white butterflyfish with yellow fins posed directly. Damselfish (Zebrafish) were just living their ordinary life there. Where can they go? Besides the characters in the painting, my friend Boxy fish was with me all the time – a small square yellow fish with dots.
There was also a hermit crab in a shell. The little mermaid in the Disney cartoon had a friend – the crab. Maybe this one claimed the same role. It could be seen first in the chest, then under the coins. There were many other marine tropical sea animals around.
There was no need for Lisa to be with me all the time. The fish, the corals, the glare of the sun on the sand – all this took time. But the most difficult element was the treasure. It is difficult to apply subtle strokes underwater, and three times I had regrets for my decision to take the pearls.
Each bead has its glare, shadow, and volume. I have had a hard time with the foreground of the painting. Only the support of my assistant plus the Boxy fish gave me strength. Four intense dives of two and a half hours each – and my mermaid finally has managed to steal her favorite pearls. I am sure that I’ll be eager to return to the topic of mermaids again and again.
P.S. Underwater artist Olga Belka thanks the Anantara group and especially the Anantara Dhugu resort in the Maldives for hospitality, full assistance, and support, as well as the Aquafanatics dive center for safety and the best diving conditions when creating this underwater artwork.