Dragonslayer II

So, where’s Dragonslayer I?… Hanging on a wall in a friends house. I love the dragonslayer theme. There will probably be a Dragonslayer III, IV, and V. I never get tired of painting dragons. They are always a challenge and there is a never ending variety to choose from.

This particular painting has all the elements I described in my previous post. Not to mention the fact, that all the lost value pattern mistakes were made at some point along the way. In my mind I see the final product but, I have to continue to push the contrast, because I get bogged down in creating the subtleties that I so dearly love love to see in any painting.

The other thing about this painting is, that if you could lift the layers of paint off one at a time, there would be a variety of other elements to the composition revealed. Actually, you can see the faint outline of a giant moon in the sky above the mountains. The mountains have under gone a few changes themselves. They were very fantastical at first, but lacked definition, so I changed them to snow capped peaks. The sky started out an indigo blue and evolved to a blue violet. I like the sky much better now.

In this detail of the dragon you can see the moon that I never took the trouble to completely paint over. Also, you can see the blue greens that I used on the dragons body to create a reflected light effect. Its quite noticable on those giant monolithic stones too. If you click on the image it will enlarge and then you can use your cursor to zoom in and out. That should show every detail including the weave of the canvas. I obviously played with the varieties and subtleties of color in the stones as much as I absolutely could. I wanted anything but a dull gray slab of rock. I chipped it and cracked it and redrew it till I almost overworked it. Then, I rubbed the paint off, and then added some paint back on. Many times over in fact till it seemed to work like I wanted it to. It is a maddening experiance for an artist to go through. However, once the desired effect is achieved it all becomes worth it. Especially when folks start asking how you did it. They may think you’re a lunitic after you tell them, but that’s OK. So just smile and nod.

The canvas is 24″x30″. So, I had to break it down into smaller images to get a good representation of the detail. Which is actually the way I worked on it originally. These figures at the bottom were added in towards the end of the process. I sort of put it together like a model car. First the stones,(which came from a photo of stonehenge) along with the background. Then, the dragon was created and added in. Finally, I got around to figuring out how I wanted to arrange the figures. This is NOT the recommended way to develope a composition. However, that is the way I put it down on the canvas. You could call this the discovery method. Because its where you discover you’re wasting time and paint, getting nowhere fast, and wishing you had done it different.  I also made some vows to never do this again. (Yeah, right.)

There’s another poblem that encountered with the procees I’ve just described. That is maintaining a sense of proportion. BIG giant stones. BIG dragon. Teeny-weeny people. Nice effect, nightmare to render. The girl is about two inches tall and rendered with a 000 brush. Our hero here is maybe 3 or 4 inches tall and pretty much done the same way. I think that I may have pulled it off but in retrospect I would have made the figures have more of a central or dominant role in the composition. But, I was really enamoured with those huge stones. All in all its a miracle that this didn’t turn into a big disaster that got painted over. Though it does hang on the wall of my studio, because I’m not overly proud of it, and its a great reminder to plan ahead.


  1. David Parkerson · March 10, 2010

    I remember when you started this one. It turned out so great. I loved watched the layers of detail appear day after day, and especially when you started penciling in the dragon on the wall. You can really feel this painting.

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