Sunday, July 5, 2009
Behold, A Great Blue Dragon!
So let me explain. This is one of my favorites. I'm sure some people wonder what it is, or what the story behind it is. So allow me.
I call this "The Great Blue Dragon and the Woman Clothed in Light." It's a reimagining/copy of the painting "The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed in Sun" by the poet William Blake. Blake painted it for a series of pieces based on the Book of Revelation. In particular, Revelation 12, which tells of the Great Red Dragon(or Satan) and the Beast from the Sea(or Anti-Christ).
I first saw Blake's painting in the movie "Red Dragon". The killer is obsessed with the painting and hears it speak to him. As soon as I saw the painting I loved it. And I know that it's primarily because of one reason. One compositional decision that, in my mind, creates the fear and the mystique. That fact? You don't see the face. Here's a painting that breaks basic artistic rules. The focal point is dead center and even appears to be completely symetrical. That same focal point has also, seemingly delibrately, turned his back to the camera. And yet it all works. I love that he could achieve that. What should be compositionaly boring becomes so dynamic that most people don't even notice the woman at the bottom of the piece.
And why do I love that the face goes unseen? Why do I feel it makes it that much more eerie? It keeps you guessing. You might wonder if it's fairly human like his legs. Or more reptilian like the tail and dragon wings. But in this guessing you start to imagine what it might look like and that can be the real horror. You might start to realize how many horrific faces you can create. You can make it as hellish as you can imagine. The fact that a piece can do that is what's fun and engaging to me.
So as for my painting. As soon as I left the theater I wanted to have a copy. I wouldn't really get around to it though until years later when I had a college watercolor course and we were assigned to copy an old masters work with our own twist on it. Perfect. Now, blue is my favorite color and I also love dragons(for a number of reasons; none of which are the band wagon reasons. I've liked them since I was very little before everyone had a dragon tattoo). So it only seemed logical to make mine blue as well as remove the religious symbolism of the original. I meant no disrespect to the original's Biblical roots. I hand drew it on a piece of watercolor paper. I did not project it. The copy I worked from was no bigger than half a sheet of computer paper. After it was all drawn out, I used watercolors to paint it, like the original. Finally I had my dragon.