Thursday, 24 August 2017

Thumbnail sketches for the imagined frontispiece
of Sir Henry Herring's account of St Doris Island

In A Mermaid in the Bath the hero, Lionel, discovers a sixteenth century book containing many clues about his missing mermaid and about mermaids in general. The book is by Sir Henry Herring who travelled with Sir Francis Drake on the voyage in which St Doris Island was discovered and claimed for the English Crown. I have asked Martin Dace, the illustrator of A Mermaid in the Bath to recreate the frontispiece to this book.

The picture described by Lionel shows a view of St Doris Island together with Francis Drake's ship the Golden Hinde, and in the foreground "a triumphantly naked mermaid." The intention is to carry out the design as a linocut, since the limitations of the medium should to some extent emulate the kind of woodcut that would have been used in such a book.

Above are the thumbnail sketches and below is the preliminary working sketch from which the lino print will be produced. With the thumbnails it became clear that putting the Golden Hinde together with the view of the island would produce an unbalanced picture with unused space at one side. When the pose of the mermaid became more dynamic it was obvious that the mermaid had to take pride of place in the middle, then Drake's ship and the island could be placed on either side.

Mermaid, ship and island
Working sketch for the frontispiece to St Doris Island
That still left space to either side of the mermaid, which was easily filled with flying fish and a sea monster, and the empty space on the rock on which she sits will be decorated with seaweed and a scallop shell. As always I remind readers of delicate sensibilities and prone to apoplexy at the sight of nipples that mermaids only wear cockle shell bras when on Disney and otherwise they glory in the natural state in which God created them.

I shall post the print when it is available. Limited edition artist's prints will be on sale on Etsy and on OpenBazaar, as will inexpensive electronic download versions.

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