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The Mermaid’s Pearl

Here’s the second in the week-long series of A Mermaid a Day sketch cards for you to download! (Please see the permission blurb below.)

mermaid holding giant pearl

This mermaid has found a rare enormous pearl which will enable her to communicate with anyone else who has one!

You have my permission to use, for personal use only, any of these to make home-printed stickers, postcards, iron-on patches, place cards for a mermaid party — if your home printer can do it, have at it! You can even use them for your avatar on social media, if you credit me. Just don’t sell them or print them commercially or remove my teeny imprint, please.  The originals of these are tiny, 2.5 x 3.5 inches, so don’t expect them to print large; I’ve uploaded them at full resolution, though, so they should be suitable for small uses as mentioned above.

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A Week of Merfolk!

Root Redwing has found her thieves, and we’ll get back to our main story next Monday! In the meantime, just to gear us all up for it, I’m going to post each day here on the Mermaid Music blog one of my sketch cards that I’ve done for the Opus Daily Practice Challenge this year. I’ve been doing all kinds of things for that (see my Facebook Page if you’re interested), but it just so happens that seven so far are Mermaid-Music appropriate!

And, bonus — you have my permission to use, for personal use only, any of these to make home-printed stickers, postcards, iron-on patches, place cards for a mermaid party — if your home printer can do it, have at it! You can even use them for your avatar on social media, if you credit me. Just don’t sell them or print them commercially or remove my teeny imprint, please.  The originals of these are tiny, 2.5 x 3.5 inches, so don’t expect them to print large; I’ve uploaded them at full resolution, though, so they should be suitable for small uses as mentioned above.

Watercolour of mer-child holding up sea-shell

Young Freckle was looking for a seashell to turn into a horn — but this one is occupied!

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A Week Off

Hello, Dear Denizens of the Deep, I’ve reluctantly decided to take this week off of posting a comic page. ‘Tis the season for surprises, and I got a rush commission for a book cover this week (yay!) that used up pretty much all my available time and art-creating energies (boo!). Also, ’tis the season for art events and such, and I was involved as a participant in three such extravaganzas this weekend. *whew*! I am now a person-shaped puddle of jelly with my feet up on a pillow.

So rather than drawing the next-to-last page of this dramatic scene between our youthful mer-rascals with a shaking hand and drooping eyelids, I’m going to rest up for a couple of days, get back on track, and provide you with the next bit of the story at the regular time next week.

In the meantime, I’ll give you a sneak peek at what kept me from the ongoing undersea shenanigans — a book cover for a new Spam, the Cat story by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough. I took progress scans as I was going along, and will be doing a blog post over on my other blog about that, but remember, you saw it here first! I’ll post a link when I get the in-progress post done, which will also tell you where you can get this fun seasonal e-story.

And yes, it has nothing to do with Mermaids, but hey… cats! And a raccoon!

UPDATE: It’s up on Amazon already!
If you’re in Canada, here’s the link.
For US Amazon, go to this link.

It’s probably up for other countries as well; just do a search on whatever link to Amazon you usually use.

UPDATE 2: Finally got around to making that blog post about the process!

Spam & Spooks w lettering flat.jpg

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A Little Mermaid

Hi everybody! I did a demo this past week at the local college (which you can read about here, and even *gasp* see my picture!) and ended up with this lovely little Mermaid. Extra art this week!

Mermaid Sprite — ink, watercolour, and coloured pencil. About 8 x 10 inches.

Mermaid Sprite — ink, watercolour, and coloured pencil. About 8 x 10 inches.

… and yes, I know she has scales, and is therefore not a Mermaid Music world mermaid, but I hope you like her! She was originally done as a much smaller (5.5 x 8.5) colouring card, which I enlarged and re-drew on watercolour paper for the colour version. I handed out packs of these cards (which featured elves, sprites, imps, fairies and a mermaid, each with a kind of doggerel-y verse that I made up) for Hallowe’en – they were a big hit, and tooth-fairy approved!

Please feel free to print this image to colour yourself!

Please feel free to print this image to colour yourself!

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Schedule Change!

Hi Mer-folks! I thought I’d share a bit of what I’ve been up to lately — it’s been a busy time in my little world.

First: I’ve decided to move my posting day back to Monday. There are a couple of reasons for that; one is that the common wisdom of posting webcomics (I’ve been reading books on it!) is that Monday is the best day to do it in terms of readership (apparently people look at webcomics at work — really? I want that job! OK, I guess I take breaks to look at webcomics too, heh); so in aid of Monday procrastinators everywhere, I’ll bow to the pressure. The other reason is that my own schedule has had some changes, and this will now work better for my own work flow.

Root Redwing and the Thieves of Kettle Bay

Root encounters a young mermaid and her pet octopus! Like dogs, octopuses should be well trained.

Remember this? I posted last spring that I was making a comic about Root Redwing as a younger woman, which was published in the Kraken Komiks anthology “Cephalopods”. Kraken had a six-month exclusive on it, which has now expired, and I will be posting the entire story as a Mermaid Music special in between chapters of the main story (chapter two is drawing to a close) sometime in November! This will give me a chance over the holidays to catch up on my backlog (is that some kind of a verbal paradox?) as well as give me a chance to do some organizational changes to this website.

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Winding up the show at the Shatterbox  Coffee Bar (I’m all hopped up on good coffee here)— those are the mer-cats on the wall behind me! It was a delight having my art in the cafe setting rather than a gallery for a change; it feels more homey, somehow.

I’ve finished the children’s book I was illustrating, as well as illustrations for an adult-level educational book — what an intense summer and fall! And I can’t show off any of it yet (picture me dancing around in frustration, clutching my portfolio of top secret documents), but should be able to in a month or so, when the publisher’s catalogue comes out. The children’s book will be coming out in April, and I am very proud of the work I did for it, so I’m very excited about its release. It’s quite different from my comics work, much of it involving very detailed paintings and drawings of lots of sea critters, which had to be scientifically accurate. But there was also some narrative illustration, which gave me a chance for some storytelling and even some humour.

I’m taking part in Inktober again this year, which is a drawing challenge started by Jake Parker, which has spread like wildfire all over the art world. As with the Opus drawing challenge I did in February, I’m planning to make a little book out of it. I’m using a Moleskine Japanese Album again, which has accordion folded pages, just enough for a month’s drawing-a-day. It’s such a good warmup, I think I will keep going with it after this month — I think my next book should be mer-folk (and mer-cats, of course)!

inktober 2016 4.jpg

A drawing from my Inktober 2016 project. The little sketchbook is based on my nostalgia for old Mark Trail Sunday comics, and I think I’ll call it “True Animal Facts and Lies”. The drawings are 3.5 x 5.5 inches, about the size of a typical comic panel, and based on a prompt word for each day. Ink and coloured pencil.

Inktober 20.jpg

A tidepool Inktober cartoon. I did a similar (but more scientific and detailed and without captions) drawing for the upcoming children’s book. It was fun to do a bit of anthropomorphizing! 3.5 x 5.5 inches, ink and coloured pencil

See you on Monday with the next page of Mermaid Music!

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Summer Seas

Hello readers! I’m surfacing from the ocean of work I’ve dived into, inhaling a few deep breaths to let you know I’m OK and so is our story. Mermaid Music will resume posting on September 9. Fear not, Maggie is having a good time on that life ring, so just consider it a summer vacation for her!

I mentioned in my last post that I was working on a book about the sea — I’m hoping to be able to reveal some of the artwork for this soon. I’m also working on a solo show to be hung in August that will be only cats — including a few catfish, so I’ll post those soon. In the meantime, here’s a scratchboard piece I did while working on the first drawings for the book, inspired by the paintings I was doing at the time:

scratchoboard sea.jpg

Scratchboard is a specially coated board from which you scratch the black surface, revealing the white underneath. It’s kind of like drawing in reverse, and often ends up looking a lot like a linocut or woodcut.

I spent much of July sorting, packing, and moving out of my long-time studio at Xchanges, an arts cooperative. After 23 years, I have all my art supplies under one roof! My little home studio won’t hold it all, so I’ve been playing Santa with all my artist friends. It’s fun, and kind of liberating, to be honing my artistic possessions down to just what I need for illustration and comics. No more large painting, no more big canvases to store… except the ones I’ve already done.

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My ex-studio, with stuff I gave away laid out on the tables before the move. I had a crew of wonderful friends who helped my schlepp what was left down the two flights of stairs!

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Much of what I kept is now stowed on the back porch (we won’t mention the chaotic pile in the music room). I think I’m going to have to have another giving-away party! My little studio upstairs where I do illustration and make comics is pretty much full and functions well already, so I’ve got my work cut out for me in organizing all this.

I treated myself to a vacation at a beach resort at Qualicum Bay for a few days after the move — oh boy, did I need that! My friends and I stayed in a camping cabin, quite a new experience for me, as I’m usually a tenter. We explored the local beaches, lakes and rivers for a few days; a lovely watery break (it rained, with thunder and lightning, so we even got sky water!) Here’s an adorable little crab from Parksville Beach:

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This little guy was one of a myriad of tiny crabs exposed at low tide on the broad sandy beach, their shells only about an inch across. The beach is also home to millions of sand dollars — a very rich place!

See you in a month, aboard The Mermaid once again!

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Taking a Break

Hi folks — I’ll be taking a (hopefully short) break from Mermaid Music. I’m dealing with some health issues that have cropped up this week, one of which is a very sore drawing hand. I’m hoping to have all this sorted out soon, but it may be a few weeks before I’m able to get our soggie moggie, Maggie out of the water. I’ve also got a looming deadline for a large illustration project I’m working on (two children’s books, about the sea!), so I’ve got to save what drawing I’m able to do for that. More about the books when I get permission from the publisher to post about it.

In the meantime, here’s a bit of mermaid art that I did last winter during my Art Zombie phase:

mermaid reflection

From “Practice”, a wee book I made from the drawings I did for the month-long Opus Practice Challenge. Every day there was a prompt word; that day’s was “reflection”.

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New Posting Day

Hi there Merfolk, I’ve decided to change my posting day to Fridays, for a number of reasons. The main one is that I always seem to be putting the finishing touches on a page , scanning, and scheduling for posting on the weekend, and my weekends are often very full — I’m a musician as well, and that’s when the gigs happen! My weekdays, on the other hand, are when I do my artwork, and I’m trying to establish a rhythm (and a bit of separation) between my two jobs.

Since this is a holiday weekend (at least here in Canada) I’m going to take this opportunity to make the swap. I’ll have the next page ready for your enjoyment next weekend, wherein we learn more about these young denizens of the deep.

In other news:

The Kraken Komiks Cephalopods anthology is compiled, laid out, and at the printers waiting proofing — we’ll be seeing the physical results on Wednesday. The artwork looks great — I’m really impressed with the quality and the variety of ways people can interpret a theme. In lieu of a regular Monday page, here’s another whole page from my story — Root gets to wrestle an octopus! This is actually a kind of prequel to the thread that is beginning in the main story, though it took place years before — Root is a young woman here.

Root&Kraken F5

Root Redwing meets her match in “Root Redwing and the Thieves of Kettle Bay”, a short story in the new Kraken Komiks anthology “Cephalopods”!

If you’d like to see some more samples from it (I showed one in my last post), here’s the Kraken Komiks facebook album with samples of everyone’s artwork! If you’d like to order one, head over to my own Facebook Page, and send me a message. I’m basing how many I order on pre-orders. Once we have the physical book in hand, we’ll be able to weigh it and figure out the postage to various locations.

Also, I’ll have a table at a couple of conventions in April-May: CCAF in Victoria, BC, and VanCAF in Vancouver BC, and I’ll have copies of all my comics, as well as the next physical book of Mermaid Music, and Cephalopods. More about that soon!

Now, back to the deeps — I’ll see you on Friday with the next new Mermaid Music post!

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Spring Forward—Ack! I Tripped!

Hi folks, there will be a slight delay in this week’s Mermaid Music — I’ll be posting tomorrow (Tuesday) instead of today. All kinds of things have been happening here — new projects, new neighbours, tons of events— and, well, I’ve burned through my buffer again. Never fear, however; we’ll be back on track with a proper Monday post next week.

The most exciting project with relevance to this comic is that I’ve just completed an eight-page story about Root Redwing in her younger days for an anthology by Kraken Komiks, a group of comics creators that I hang out with here in Victoria, BC. Here’s a panel with an actual MERMAID to make up for you having to wait until tomorrow for the next instalment!

Root encounters a young mermaid and her pet octopus! Like dogs, octopuses should be well trained.

Root encounters a young mermaid and her pet octopus! Like dogs, octopuses should be well trained.

It was drawn in ink, with brush-pen, somewhat larger then I usually work, then coloured digitally in greyscale with Photoshop (which took way longer than watercolour, by the way — but I’ve been doing watercolour for about a million years and digital only a couple). I learned a lot doing it though, as I did a lot of experimenting to get it to look the way I had envisioned it. I’ve worked very little in greyscale, either digitally or traditionally; it’s always been straight black-and-white or full colour for me. This was harder than either!

If you’re interested in what else I’ve been up to the last month or so, head on over to my main blog, Karen Gillmore Art! I’ll post more about the upcoming anthology soon; the theme is cephalopods, and it will be in print around the middle of April! I’m also planning to have a new print issue of Mermaid Music out by Mid-May, so stay tuned.

UPDATE: Well, the new page is posted, and technically, it’s still Monday (it’s 11:35pm). Hope it was worth the wait!

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New Year, Fresh Start!

Hi folks! Happy 2016! Mermaid Music is about to be back in the swing of things, and it’s appropriate to be starting a new subplot at the beginning of the year! I’ve got a nice buffer of pages drawn, and am right now finishing up the painting of the page of which I posted the inked version, oh, too many moons ago. *blush* I didn’t mean to take so long, but my art life has been very busy — just to prove it to myself, I wrote a post on my main blog about all the art stuff I have done in the last year.

I’ll be posting once a week, on Mondays. At one point I was posting more often, but that was part of what led to my burnout, and I felt that I wasn’t able to do the justice to the art that I wanted to do. I really care a lot about this story, and I’ve decided it’s more important to give each page all I can rather than giving myself too-tight deadlines. I have enough of those in other parts of my art life! It’s nice, and I think important, to have one project where I can give myself permission to relax into the process.

So stay tuned, and for those of you who have subscribed, you will start getting those weekly story updates in your inboxes again on Monday! I’ll be scheduling posts for 6 AM PST. In the meantime, here’s a fishy doodle, on the back of one of my band’s Christmas set lists, done during the open stage prior to our feature set. You can have some fun trying to decipher what we played!

I've had cats on the brain lately; we are currently catless, and I've been drawing a LOT of them. Here's some for the mermaids.

I’ve had cats on the brain lately; we are currently catless, and I’ve been drawing a LOT of them. Here’s some for the mermaids.