The Old Man of the Sea

Each time the Walrus returns to land, this ‘Old Man of the Sea’ tells stories of the creatures he’s encountered in the deep… Listening attentively, are a group of Fairy Terns and Woodpeckers! Having razor-sharp beaks, the Fairy Terns tattoo into the blubber, a record of the strange creatures the Old Man describes. Look closely and you can see one is finishing the latest: a Whale! Look harder across the expanse of blubber and you can make out Squid, Octopii, Cuttle-fish and more.

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There are more Fairy Terns at the top of the picture. They’re bringing scraps of seaweed, with which to polish the brass of the Old Man’s Steampunk-inspired goggles & headpiece. I was pleased with so much of this work, but the goggles’ lens and the delicate embossing of the headband were a particular highlight.

Of course, not all the encounters are friendly. A sturdy bronzed bracket holds the two halves of one giant ivory tusk together, which alludes to one such incident. Our grizzled hero has lost some decoration along the way too! Can you see that the Pileated Woodpecker is replacing a missing Sapphire on his carving of a Giant Squid? Oh, and check-out the Woodpecker’s armour as well…

At well over a meter tall, ‘The Old Man Of the Sea’ is both my largest stencil AND my largest painting to-date. Consider the Walrus’s bristles. First, I painstakingly draw and cut them from sheets of mylar. Then I lay the sheets down over the work and drive paint through the gaps. The effect – while impressive – represents whole days of effort. But that’s just the beginning, before the main painting effort. In all, ‘The Old Man of the Sea’ took around two months to complete.

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