Oct 2009

One Drawing, Two Paintings

I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.
Albert Einstein

The two digital pieces below are the result of an exercise in which I used the same sketchbook generated idea as a basis for two different illustrations. The idea was to show how variations in approach, even when coming from the same stating point, can result in a different feel when finished.

The subject of the paintings, came from a sketchbook entry, which was itself based on a story fragment. The tale revolves around a young girl accidentally discovering a dragon’s egg, lost by a group of forest dwelling creatures who have been charged with its care. In the scene, the egg is found at woods edge by the creatures. They haven’t seen a dragon’s egg in generations, and have very little belief that such things even exist in the modern age. The egg’s mysterious arrival leaves them suspicious and wary.

Both paintings began with the same basic elements; a tight pencil drawing over/underlay, a toned ground, a separately rendered dragon’s egg set in place, and both would use the line drawing as a main design element. If you look closely at the egg by the way, you can see the light shining through it, outlining the dragon embryo inside, and a swirling pattern on the shell, something I designed to be used as a recurring element if this were ever to become a series.

In the first painting, I limited myself to rendering with one color, over a rice paper canvas. I applied the tone as you typically would when using traditional watercolor, washing in broad areas of transparent color. The background tree was kept very muted and light so that the texture on the canvas below could show through. I splashed and spattered paint in the foliage areas to add more texture. To indicate a magical quality, I surrounded the egg with an aura of the same swirl pattern found on the eggshell. I finished up by containing the art with a roughly drawn, red band around the outer edge. The finished piece has a light, airy quality and the rice paper background imparts an Asian touch.

The second painting is full color, with a richer paint application. Color was initially laid in transparently, and built up with successive applications, until the desired values were reached. The lighter tones were then painted in with a semi-opaque brush setting. The full color pallet lets me create a nice contrast between the warm light and the cool darks of the forest. Paint bleeds off in a roughly designated manner around the edges, except where restrained by the outline of leaves toward the bottom. The background tree is much darker, and becomes a foil for the sun’s rays falling across the egg, and the clouds in the sky shine through the open branches. Overall, the painting is denser and more dramatic.

One starting point, two different approaches with two very different results.