Painting an original dragon
There’s falconry, so why not dragonry? Eric Velhagen shows how removing control leads to fresh ideas and imaginative art
What do dragons do? How are they usually depicted in art? What can I say differently about them? In the words of the great Winnie the Pooh, “Think, think, think, think.” We have falconry, so how about dragonry? Whether this idea has been explored before or not, I don’t know. But I feel it has some potential.
Before I begin, I like to collect my thoughts. What am I trying to say with this painting and how best can I execute that image? It’s very much like a mental plan of the steps I’ll take to achieve the results I’m looking for.
I love the surprises and unexpected results that happen when either some or a lot of control is removed from the process, and this is central to how I work. When it comes to artistic tools, for me it’s the more the merrier. Any brush (make, size, model), any kind of palette knives, plus rags, fingers and toes (just kidding).
I do several thumbnails, exploring how the idea comes across visually. I follow this with some more developed sketches, but nothing too time-consuming. Another advantage of thumbnailing the idea first is that it enables me to determine if the idea has any potential before taking the time to find reference.
Working with a simple colour palette, a variety of brushes and tools, my tonal drawing nearby for referencing value, a cup of coffee, Mozart or Led Zeppelin in the CD player… I’m ready to start.
A largely self-taught painter, Eric has been fascinated with fantasy art, artists and JRR Tolkien since childhood. After graduating from the Colorado Institute of Art, he became a freelance illustrator, winning many local advertising awards. www.ericvelhagen.carbonmade.com