Girls drawing girls, a fun art group I'm a part of, is getting ready to put out their latest art book and the drawing I'm contributing for it had to be themed around Hibiscus flowers. I've been on a total mermaid kick since I looked up info on the 20,000 Leagues ride in Disney World and knew I wanted to have an excuse to draw stuff like that… how are those two things related you ask?
Well, through clicking around and reading on the history of the ride, I discovered the first ride like this was the "Submarine Voyage" in Disneland, which had LIVE MERMAIDS! Okay okay, so they weren't real mermaids – they were actually local girls who auditioned to play mermaids for the summer during 1965-1967. But seriously – how cool is that?!
So when I put together my concept sketch for the book, I decided to capture the look of these teenage mermaid gals gossiping on a rock while beautifying themselves with brightly colored hibiscus flowers. Still working out color choices, but above is a preview! I'm debating making them look less human with webby ears and fins on their arms…
Sketches I doodled while coming up with ideas. I actually drew all the stuff below while sitting in a jacuzzi – I'd like to think of that as immersing myself in the drawing's environment, hahaha!
In the bottom left you can see where my idea sorta started… and then I drifted into the zone of thinking of outfit ideas. I think at this point I was like, man – I want a mermaid costume too!
And I couldn't talk about the Disneyland mermaids without sharing photos, video and some more info…
From the summer of 1965 through the summer of `67, Disneyland had live mermaids perched on the rocks for about four hours each day. They brushed their hair, primped with an oversized mirror and sunned themselves.
"A special tryout was held at the Disneyland Hotel swimming pool, with requirements specifying a height between 5 feet 4 inches and 5 feet 7 inches, long hair and good swimming ability," according to "Disneyland: The Nickel Tour," on sale at the Magic Kingdom. "The aspiring sirens were assured that Disneyland would provide the appropriate mermaid attire."
"It was like a dream job," ex-mermaid Shannon Baughmann told Koenig. At 6 foot 3, she was a lot of Starkist. "You could swim [within] 15 feet of the subs and wave to the guests. We'd do underwater stunts, synchronized swimming, play and splash each other," she recalled. "I was always the last one out, to make sure we didn't forget our oversized combs, necklaces or jewels."
They were very popular, and not just with the girls.
"They were quite an eyeful," The Nickel Tour concluded. "Unfortunately, they were too much for some of the guys onshore, who found themselves compelled to jump into the water and swim to the rocks to answer the siren's call."
I was saving all of this for my upcoming Love Letter post, but there were so many links I wanted to share it just seemed ridiculous… plus it has a lot more in common with my doodles 🙂
- Amazing photos of the Submarine Voyage and the Disneyland mermaids
- Mermaid Tryouts in summer of 1966
- More try out pictures
- Really cool read - Diary of a Disneyland Mermaid
Last but not least, check out this fun video of the mermaids swimming and trying out for their summer jobs:
Man, can you imagine how fun it must have been to do that for the summer…!?
Hoped you guys enjoyed the retro mermaid stuff and preview of my upcoming piece! I look forward to sharing it when it's finished 🙂
PS! Two other art notes:
- Mary of Acrylicana.com interviewed me for her "Inspired" podcasts, you can have a listen here – we talk about experiences in art school, how I got started in my career, advice, inspiration, and more! It was recorded while I still had a part time job, so it's a little out of date there, but everything else still is current 🙂
- And I'm going to have art in the upcoming Bunnies & Bows: Art Exhibition & Chubby Bunny Fashion Event – you can read more about that here!