Finally, the Dragon!

This is a bit long, so bear with me… Or scroll to the end if you’re not interested in artistic process….

A few weeks ago my third daughter, who lives with me and I were discussing Christmas Day. We decided to give each other a gift of our own art. She was to write me a story and I was to paint her a dragon.

I immediately thought of a piece of self prepared mat board I had discovered a couple of days before. It was 16X20 and had been buried and forgotten until I was sitting and cleaning out an area of my studio. That would be perfect, I thought.

And then I began my research. First of all, I was inspired by a piece I had already been planning in my head… An interpretation of the Bubble Nebula (NGC 7635). To me, it looked like a dragon, and the colors were exquisite.

I also searched through a book on how to draw dragons (Drawing Dragons: Learn How to Create Fantastic Fire-Breathing Dragons very helpful. There are no reference images of dragons, you know!

Here are some of the sketches I made in preparation for beginning the painting.

Time to put the drawing on the prepared mat board.

The block-in.

After this, his story kept changing… What kind of dragon was he? Did he have legs? What kind of horns? Ears, or not? (He’s a space dragon, after all… There’s no sound in space. But of course, we’re talking fantasy here, so…). Was he going to eat that star or breathe it out or just gaze at it? More importantly, where was the focal point?

It was an incredibly long process.

Which ate up my Terry Ludwig eggplant pastel in large swathes! The surface was more than half the problem, being very textured. I blended on this painting more than I’ve ever blended before. And then there were more than the usual revisions using brushes and erasers to adjust the angle of the head and wings, reposition the star several times, etc.

I liked this story, but there was just something not quite right… It didn’t have any context.

The star is too distracting, but they composition leads to the focal point better.

Final version.

“Homing Star”

16X20, self prepared surface.

With the exception of any wet techniques, this one used every trick in the book and every type of pastel I own. Need to order more TL eggplant.

Have you ever tried to paint a fantasy creature? What kind of fantasy creature would you choose to be painted as a gift for you?

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