The Dragon's Breath: Art tutorial & step by step process.
The Chinese water dragon represents protection, the source of all knowledge. A guardian to the immense riches of the world.
The dragon's breath literally represents 'the essence of life'.
This was a birthday commission for a strong, deeply intuitive lady. Someone who I felt carried within her a connection to that dragon energy.
A step by step guide to how I created this painting (the full image can be found below) follows...
1. The image of the woman standing to one side appeared in my head from the start, & I knew I wanted it to have a water dragon reference (as it is the chinese year of the dragon, & it also resonated with me for the client), so I set to work finding reference pictures to work from. I often merge numerous images to create the exact pose I want by piecing them together in photoshop, or drawing the original pose & then changing it.
I begin with very rough scribbles & thumbnail drawings in my sketchbook to get the ideas from head to paper. Then I get it drawn onto the watercolour paper...
2.Using various blues (Prussian blue for the sky...my favourite!), I sprinkle some salt across the wet paint to represent the sea. It can be a bit hit & miss with salt, some pigments work better with it than others. Wait until it's dry to brush it off!
3.Loosely fill in the base colour on the clouds & her dress...
4. Now it's beginning to take shape & I can get a feel for how it wants to go. The sea greens of her dress & the dragon spirit really felt as though they needed no detail added...I liked the smokey, dreamy feel.
5. I painted the clouds in the same way I had previously in 'White Tara', with different hues & highlights, as the design was taken from ancient Chinese art. And I began to add detail to her hair with very thin strokes of creamy white & browns to give the effect of strands of hair. Add extra highlights in blocks to areas on the top, or the back to show the shape of the head, combined with darker shadow around the base and neck where it is naturally shadowy.
6. Using the same technique with a very thin brush, fill in tiny white strokes to give the impression of transparent fabric. Use darker greys & blues to fill in the odd shadow to suggest a knee & a calf.
7. I had to reign myself in from adding too much detail with this piece, so once the stars were all added (using white gouache paint, as it is thicker than watercolour. I also use white acrylic.), I used gold leaf to bring the stars on her dress to life, and smudged some pastel pencils across the horizon for extra smokiness.
Watercolour & gold leaf
Reproduction art print can be purchased here..