In the series of Goddesses of Creation, This one was probably the easiest one, I was inspired, the mood was right, everything worked out really well and out she came. I decided to use a background of volcanoes, but because I had not been to the big island of Hawai’i I had no references for this, so I turned to the internet for some inspiration. I tried to keep all the references related to Hawai’i to keep the theme consistent along the whole series…. as you can see, I do use reference in abundance!
I also browsed for Pele’s images so as to get an idea of what is the general feeling of people’s imagery when it comes to a fire Goddess. It became quite evident that a red flowers haku lei would be a good idea to incorporate.
My idea was to have a palette dominated by reds and blacks, originally I had thought of a dark gray sky, but I also wanted to try a redder approach, which was preferred by David and Mamiko, so I added some green (the complement of red) to push the image of the Goddess forward and separate her from the background. This also would give me an excuse to use some greenish highlights in the predominantly red figure, which always works well.
As an artist that receives most commissions as tattoos, I normally don’t do a lot of backgrounds so it was interesting to work on adding depth to the image by allowing the far background to remain unrefined and work the way up to the foreground in increasing detailing and saturation. After I was done with her I tried adding shadows under the dress to make it separate from the land, but the volcanic soil was so dark that it didn’t quite work. That is when I thought of her body actually irradiating fiery light from under her gown, and I really like the results!
Also, somewhere along the way the flowers in the haku lei turned into flames, and I took a shortcut laying textures in the foreground to make it more interesting.
One of the most flattering things I’ve heard of this image is an anecdote that David told me. We needed to get this one out sooner than the other ones because Mamiko was giving a seminar, so they could print the flyers, so we did work on the details until it was completed and the file was transferred. Once they had the posters ready, a lady registered in the seminar even though she did not know what it was about because she found the image so compelling! That really made my day!