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What is a Selkie?

Life is funny. I had Jin N Tonic over last night modeling for me. I let her choose three poses straight from Gil Elvgren, of whom I’m a huge fan of.

She choose her three poses, and I drew them straight onto the watercolor paper.

In three hours, we ended up with pretty solid sketches for 7 paintings. I already finished inking one and got a lot of it done.

Anyways, after the modeling session, the three of us went out for Moroccan food. They had two damn good belly dancers there, including one who won the Best of Bay Area competition.

So back to the painting I started, I had already started painting it when my wife said “that reminds me of a selkie.”

Immediately, I changed the tone of the painting. I drew a seal skin on the rock by the nude woman since she had just changed out of it.

“So what is a selkie then?”

My bad. Let me rewind.

A selkie is a Scottish legend of a seal/woman creature who can change into either form. When she sheds her seal skin, she becomes a beautiful nude woman. Then she puts it back on and becomes a seal.

Now, if a man is bold enough, he can attempt to steal her seal skin and she will be a woman forever. Then, he could woo her into marriage.

Yes, quite different from my normal femme fatale female creatures. This one isn’t one. She’s not going to trick you or kill you. Rather, she’s one you have to trick then woo.

It’s also interesting that the Scottish believe killing seals is bad luck. That may or may not be tied to the legend of the selkie. Or, there may be some overlap.

Selkie statue in Kalsoy, one of the  Faroese islands
Selkie statue at Mikladalur. Photo by Siegfried Rabanser

So going forward, I’ll be painting several selkies. Jin was wearing a red wig. She’s really into wigs.

If you’ve been following this blog for awhile, you’ll know my main two models are Allie and Roxy. I’ve known Jin for a few years now and I finally got around to painting her.

When you see the red-headed selkie paintings, they’re neither Allie nor Roxy. These ones are of Jin.

And now that you know what a selkie is, if you’re a Dungeon Master, definitely use one in your campaigns. Most people have never even heard of them.

Or if you’re an artist or a writer and have no idea what to paint/write about, there you go!

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