The River's Cascade, Under the Blossoming Plum

⊛  The River's Cascade, Under the Blossoming Plum  
⊛  cut washi + chiyogami paper / illustration board  
⊛  10 x 8 in •   254 x 203 mm

There was a time, eons upon eons ago, before the earth had fully cooled or I had graduated from junior high school, when I drew dragons. Daily. In math class. Typically surrounded by broken swords, shattered shields, and bristling with spent arrows. I'm fairly sure this is the first dragon I've drawn since those hallowed days of yore.

One of the things I enjoy most about doing the artwork is the research, long before pencil touches paper. Often, pieces such as this, where I know ahead of time what the subject will be, but not the concept or emotion, are the most difficult to get a firm grasp on. I have to ask myself, "What does a dragon mean to me, metaphorically, conceptually, emotionally?". Aside from my inner (and still very much alive) middle-schooler who just thinks dragons are awesome.

Thus begins the research into the myth, mythology, and symbolism of the subject matter. Granted, it might appear that I'm wasting vast amounts of time surfing the web, but I assure you, that is not so.

For example, The Japanese dragon is usually drawn with three claws. The Chinese dragon has five - at least the one which represents the emperor does. In both traditions (and Japan's draws heavily from China's, while also making it uniquely its own), the dragon is associated with water.

One of the thoughts inescapably running through my brain for the past couple months has been the earthquakes and tsunami of the past Spring.

In my original sketches, I played up the ideas of a more violent clash between earth and water, along with a morally ambiguous wyrm. In the end, it is more appropriate that 2012 be represented by an auspicious water deity.

 (you didn't really think I'd be able to resist the self-promotion, didja?)

(you didn't really think I'd be able to resist the self-promotion, didja?)

I've been playing alot recently with layering. It's most obvious in the waterfall, which becomes more multi-hued and complicated where it merges with the dragon. The big lizard itself is an experiment in layers to push and pull certain parts of the creature back or pull them forward. Some areas of scales are above the line-work, while others are beneath.

To rip a page from the incredible Karl Kerschl, here are some of my favorite dragon-y things:

  • The Hobbit
  • The constellation Draco
  • Dragonball
  • My coolest belt
  • this calendar: