What Mermay Has Taught Me

Mermay is an instagram challenge for artists, the idea is to draw, paint or create a mermaid for each day in May. There are prompt lists to join if you would like to but you don’t have to. It isn’t a strict challenge, it is supposed to be fun and to stretch your creativity. Mermay was created in 2016 by Disney artist Tom Bancroft and it continues to get bigger and bigger each year.

I first joined the challenge in 2018 and actually managed to complete the whole 31 days of mermaids and I really enjoyed it. I wasn’t drawing continuously at this point and I just had a lot of fun with it. I like to think I have grown as an artist but I still love some of the images that I created that first year.

Samantha Webb 2018

Having completed the challenge in 2018 I decided that 2019 was the year to make it more personal and as my heart really is set on creating children’s books it really did only make sense to try and create a mermaid book. One big challenge that I thought I would be able to accomplish.

Samantha Webb Mermay 2019

Well, I tried, I really did but for me 31 days is definitely not enough time to create a whole story, fully illustrate it and edit it too. I managed to do a lot of the illustrations and had my story to a point where I was really happy with it but time was just not on my side and I didn’t manage to complete it. I had come too far with it to leave my story sat in my sketchbook now. Despite some setbacks personally, Livvy and Pipps was published independently under Moby and Puddle Books and I couldn’t be more proud of my mermaid story even if it did take a lot longer than 31 days. You can purchase it right now!

Livvy and Pipps published January 2020

In 2020 I made my New Years resolution to not join in any art challenges and to spend more time on my artwork rather than trying to do lots in a short amount of time, quality over quantity. I didn’t do a single image for Mermay but I did enjoy seeing all of the amazing mermaids drawn by other talented artists on Instagram. Having the pressure off especially in the chaos that was 2020 (I hope I never have to homeschool ever again) was the best decision for my mental health and I am glad that I made that decision.

This year I have decided that I will join in with Mermay again because I love the community feel of it but I won’t be doing the whole month, I can’t even contemplate trying to fit in a new painting everyday. I am so happy that I am now very busy with my illustration career, something that seemed like a dream back in 2018 when I first attempted Mermay. (Let’s face it, It still feels like a dream now!) So instead I have decided that this year I will experiment, inspired by the amazing artist Cindy Lane and we went to the sea and got some sea water to paint with.

Plymouth Seawater!

We had a great day by the sea and then I had fun experimenting with the salty water and my watercolours. The textures and the natural gradients that the salt water achieve are stunning. It is hard to control where the pigments lay and I think it will take some practice to get it right but it is amazing. I have lived by the sea for most of my life and it is not until I saw Cindy Lane’s post that I even thought about trying seawater in my paintings. I love to experiment and it is great to find a way to experiment that doesn’t actually cost me a load of money this time!

It has been nice to join in with Mermay but with the pressure off. I think that my art has improved because I am not putting a strain on myself to create something new every day but I am not stopping myself from joining in when inspiration strikes. Hopefully I have found a good balance for me. I admire the artists that can create a new mermaid image every day but I have learnt that for me, art challenges lead to burn out and a decline in the quality of my illustrations. So I hope that you enjoy the mermaid illustrations that I do manage to post because I am really enjoying creating them.

Samantha Webb 2021
Samantha Webb 2021
Samantha Webb 2021

Thank you so much for reading my post. I think I have babbled on long enough but I really do love Mermay and think that if you can join in without giving yourself burn out, without stressing out and whilst keeping it fun then go for it, you will have a whale of a time! (sorry :P)

Samantha Webb