Ondine - The Making of a Personal Project

I recently had the privilege of working with a couple of local models to shoot reference photography for some personal projects this year. This preliminary drawing titled “Ondine” came from these modeling sessions and will be painted much larger set in a natural environment. I find I can often acquaint myself with a model and her unique features in a sketch making me much more informed and comfortable when rendering the final painting. Here, I’ve experimented with a wet media background on board, pushing and blotting layers for an antiqued texture that will play on my “water” theme. I’ve rendered the figure and portrait in red/white pastel and colored pencil.

The name Undine or “Ondine” was given to a fictitious water spirit of human form in classical literature and was re-imagined in modern literature by Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid.” While I’m not envisioning a stereotypical mermaid with sparkling tail for my project, I am drawn towards the element of water and Ondine’s curse to exist between worlds. Water, as one of the five elements, is often associated with emotion, transformation, and metamorphosis from one shape to another…


I think in this drawing and season of my life, I am reflecting on the past and the comfort it brings me in solitude. Many of my figurative artworks are depicted alone and although this may seem inconsequential, I believe it a subconscious decision from my own life experience. Loneliness is often ridiculed as self-indulgent or disadvantaged, but as an introvert and artist, I have often found it to be an experience of great awareness. There are moments in the winding hours of my studio when I feel closer and more connected than if I were surrounded by thousands in a stadium full of people. I think much like the character of Ondine, the sacrifice of living between worlds makes you aware and appreciative of things in life that would otherwise go unnoticed. I often feel that my purpose as an artist is to remind others of the unnoticed and those singular reflections that help us to know ourselves and our trajectory better than anyone else. I will post a few progress pictures of this painting as it comes along. Stay tuned!