M is for...

Mermaid, Myth and Medieval

Mermaid: A female marine creature, having the head, torso, and arms of a woman and the tail of a fish.

Today’s project is about the mythical creature that’s been documented in art for hundreds of years. It's a fun project with the emphasis on drawing and making a figurative art piece in your personal style. Moving on from the lace-themed project, these imaginary creatures will be used as our inspiration and subject.

Creative Process

The mermaid project includes both figurative and decorative elements. Have a look at the inspirational board below, and do some basic drawings and planning of the style you would like to create your mermaid in. Letters are to be used to decorate their bodies and hair. The letter M in particular is ideal for creating fish scales and flowing mermaid hair.

Since mermaids appeared in art even before medieval times and can be seen in different art styles through the ages, there are different examples to be used as inspiration. The figure of the mermaid can be interpreted in different ways. The body shape, part human, part fish and tail can take on a variety of appearances. It can be elegantly elongated, short and stout or curved and voluptuous.

In order to create your mermaid you can draw it with a fineliner on watercolour paper and add colour using High Flow or watercolour paint. Alternatively you can use a dip pen and white ink on a black background similar to the lace project.

This project is also ideal to use some of the techniques of the cactus project or for making a collage with the tissue paper. If you are unsure about the figurative element, keep it simple; mermaids have hair that can cover much of the body! If you want to, place your mermaid in an environment under water or seat her on a rock. Be playful and experimental and have fun with this topic.

Here’s a link to mermaid examples. Use this board for inspiration, but be careful not to copy another artist’s work:



The focus of this project is to combine art techniques and use letters in repeat to create surfaces and detail. It is important to engage with your own preferences regarding art style, techniques and materials as well as creating process.

© 2020 Esté MacLeod

© 2020 Explore Colour