OK mate – first thing you should know when decorating yer cabin/office/rec-room – old world maps, as great as they are, *can* be overdone. Proper pirate wall decor requires variety. It requires color and texture. It requires bare-chested mermaids.
Artist David Delware has released a series of three prints, each featuring various encounters between pirates and mermaids. They’re pretty, and they’re large (review prints were a hefty 10″ tall and 20″ wide.) All of them make fine use of “candlelight” coloring, focusing heavily on warm golds and with most other colors (with the exception of some blues) being rather muted for a nice, old-worldy effect.
As each of the three prints feature a different scenario, allowing the viewer to conjure their own idea of the story that’s taking place, sort of like a piratey Norman Rockwell. The first piece, titled “The Wager”, shows an attractive female pirate playing cards against a mermaid on the seashore. An old chest serves as their table, a barrel for a seat, and a moored ship is seen in the distance. While the mermaid appears to be winning, close observation reveals the lady pirate is cheating (typical pirate.) But even closer observation shows that the mermaid is no sap, being a cheat herself (typical cold-blooded fish wife.) As to the winner? I suppose that’s for the viewer to decide. It’s a lovely scene and finely rendered, although the mermaid’s tail seems a bit awkwardly placed. The clouds, however, are particularly good, as is the female pirate’s facial profile.
The second print, titled “Spellbound”, is more sinister in nature. Again, a chest is in the center of things (not the mermaid’s chest, mind you.) But this time, rather than serving as a gambling table, it appears to be releasing a small horde of spectral mermaids. A pirate, pistol still smoking, seems perplexed as he reaches towards the nearest mermaid with a slightly cupped hand – I’d wager he’s likely to get smacked, except the ghostly mermaid’s claws would lead me to believe a slap is the least of his worries. Across from the pirate on the other side of the chest is a mermaid sorceress. Like the mermaid in the previous print, she too plays at cards, but this time they fly about the air and seem more mystical in nature. Behind the sorceress is a mermaid princess looking on (and shamelessly baring all, saints be praised.) A final mermaid is seen crouched behind the pirate – she’s quite evil and pretty looking, although she forgot to not look directly at the camera (didn’t they teach her to not do that in mermaid modeling school?) The cast is completed by several cats, and some sort of monkey/seamonster/demon thing – just a little one, mind you.
“Spellbound” is definitely a more complex scenario than was “The Wager”, featuring far more visual nooks and cranies to explore. And while the fates of the pirates in either painting remain unclear, I’d place strong odds that the lady pirate of “The Wager” is far more likely to see the sun rise than is her male counterpart in “Spellbound” – being surrounded by that many mermaids bodes poorly for any sailor’s fortune.
The final print, “The Lure of Spanish Gold”, demonstrates that yes, despite the gambling, cheating, and spectral magic, mermaids and pirates can sometimes get along. While a plundered vessel burns in the background, a crew of pirates load their ship with booty – of both types. Chests full of gold are hauled aboard, along with several mermaids – who appear none too resistant of their new pirate companions, lucky dogs. Or not so lucky perhaps – I count six pirates, but only five mermaids. So unless one of these blokes is satisfied making friends figurehead, then I’d say a fight’s about to break out between a few of these blokes quite soon.
While “The Lure of Spanish Gold” is, like “Spellbound”, a painting featuring a large cast, it also seems the most basic of the three. Whereas the other two have scores of tiny details, and invite the viewer to craft their own ideas as to the larger story contained within, “Spanish Gold” feels to me less intriguing, as it lacks that extra emotional hook.
Throughout the three prints, the artistic style and quality is consistent, making for a fine matched set. Detailing is good. In some cases the mermaids look a little posed, but not to such a degree as to overly detract from enjoyment of the pictures. It should be noted, however, that fans of brunette mermaids should steer towards “Spellbound”, as it features the only darkhaired siren of the lot. Fans of redheads are right out of luck, as all thirteen remaining mermaids – spectral or otherwise – are most definitely blondes. But regardless of coloring preference, I think most guys will rejoice in the absolute and total absence of seashell bras – a notion that always struck me as rather juvenille (and most certainly uncomfortable for the mermaid.) Aside from jewelry-adorned arms, ears, and hair, each and every one of these brine-soaked lovelies has opted for “au naturale” with regards to clothing. But class is also an operating factor with these paintings, and it would be the hard-pressed lubber to accuse these images of being anything other than tasteful art.
A lovely, impressive series of mermaind/pirate art, and sure to be at home in your basement tavern or the wall of your canvas tent (not recommended in rainy climates.)