This week’s delightful cover should be immediately recognizable as the handiwork of Southampton artist Cat Bachman, who has had her artwork featured on almost several covers to date. Here, she discusses “Madame Merfrog,” her process from idea formation to art creation and experimenting with paints outside her go-to acrylics.
What initially inspired the idea for this week’s cover art, “Madame Merfrog,” and how did that idea develop in your mind?
I am enchanted by mermaids. In folktales and art, they are depicted as beautiful, seductive, sea-dwelling creatures. With just a song, these bewitching sirens lure sailors to them, rendering each hopelessly in love. The ending is often tragic, with stormy seas, shipwrecks and drownings. But sometimes, as with the Scottish selkies, there is a romantic ending, whereby the fabled creatures shed their fish tails, leave the sea behind and marry. That’s what I wanted for my muse: a happy ending.
What steps did you take to translate the regal image in your mind into this lovely painting?
Although I have painted many mermaids before, I wanted this one to be somewhat humorous. I imagined Madame Merfrog, in her bejeweled crown of shells, seeing herself every bit as lovely as any mermaid. Her siren song might sound more like a croak or a ribbit, but surely, there would be a passing ship that came her way eventually, even if just out of curiosity. And, as she sat atop her craggy rock, patiently primping for a sailor, she would soon capture one’s heart.
Where was this issue’s cover art painted, and how long did it take you?
I painted this piece in my tiny studio upstairs. It is the most magical place to be. Paints, brushes, canvases everywhere, in a kind of organized chaos. Because I had several paintings going at the same time, I worked on “Madame Merfrog” here and there over a two-week period. This particular seascape felt like Montauk, somewhere not too far out from the rocky coast. I live in Southampton, but my characters are all over the East End.
How did you develop your art style, and do you consider it to be still evolving or mostly set?
I hope it is never set and always evolving! At a very young age, the color palettes in fairytale books fascinated me. Those exquisite images took me to faraway places that didn’t exist in real life. I think my art style developed way back then. It primed an imagination that gave me a window into other worlds. I can envision magical places and colors just by sitting quietly. I love color and consider it a kind of language. When I was small, I found great joy in melting crayons on the radiator of my parent’s NYC apartment to see what new colors I could make by blending them together.
In the interview for your March 25, 2022 cover art, you mentioned wanting to give oil painting a try. Were you able to experiment with oil paint last year?
I did experiment with it. And I will definitely do more experimenting. But I feel so comfortable with my acrylics that it remains my preferred medium.
Have you ever considered getting into book cover illustration or children’s books? Between your whimsical, colorful style and your characters dripping with personality, you seem like you’d be a natural at it.
Thank you. That is lovely of you to say. On and off throughout the years, it has been a dream of mine. But I never actually pursued it. I have so many dreams. I think I’ll just keep painting and see what the universe brings.
Would you like to share any closing thoughts or additional information?
First, I want to thank you and Dan’s Papers for once again featuring my work on the cover. To see more of my artwork, visit catbachman.com. Follow me on Instagram @catbachman.