Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Dragon & the Pearl

For readers of my other blog, specifically regarding this post, the origins of this illustration have a special meaning - it began several years ago as a gift for a friend who died before the illustration was completed. She was just a tiny sketch at the time of Mac's death (in 2009) and I was of two minds about proceeding. To be honest with you, had I any idea of just how much time and work would be entailed, I never would've gone beyond that point.

I always did envision her with scaled skin, but no, she's not just your average reptilian. She's Princess Tatiana Drakkorin, and she and her family have descended from dragons.

Of course, when I started this illustration I was not so informed. I was thinking in terms of a lizard princess. It was only after months and months of staring at that face while I set about creating her elaborate costume that I detected a slight resentment in those eyes. But it wasn't until I began creating a fetus that was to be floating in that glass globe between her claws - isn't it always?- that the reality struck me. The fetus, of course, had a tail... but then it sort of grew wings before my eyes - a recessive feature, apparently, as they wither and fall off shortly after birth - and then two things stuck me: 1) Tatiana is a dragon. 2). The fetus looks fricking ridiculous. Without the fetus, of course, I had a rather meaningless glass globe... but then I had the masterstroke of superimposing a pearl over it. At which point, memories of mythology began reverberating in my skull; specifically Asian mythology, which often mysteriously depicts its dragons with pearls - and rather large pearls, at that. Hence, "The Dragon & the Pearl".

But, my imagination didn't stop there. It occurred to me that she'd make a wonderful character in a children's story I'd started years before. It also occurred to me that she and the House Drakkorin eventually fell on hard times, presumably after this portrait was "painted". That, however, is literally another story!

As for her costume, crown, and jewelry, they are all inventions. As with any created image, one thing informs the other in a sheerly subliminal way (when things are working, that is). Gold is not a metal that attracts me, but Tatiana insisted upon it... Well, that's a dragon for you... and there's no point in arguing with them.

The Russian name of Tatiana came to me as the illustration began to take on a Byzantine feel. I was raised as a child with Russian icons surrounding me... so, as I tend to let my unconscious mind do the walking, this sort of thing is inevitable. My muse, incidentally, pretty much avoided this project after the initial stages, though it did put in a few words near the end... it became just myself wrestling with a rather unruly dragon... the moral of the story being: when dealing with reptilians, watch your step!

Oh yeah, below is that fetus - experimentally dropped into the pearl. It is actually a hologram of an unborn Tatiana, which was apparently created as a gift for her by her Grandmother. Now you know.

For a further exploration of Tatiana - an enlargement of her face, and small excerpt from "her story" - click here.


  1. I'm glad you like her, sweets; it means a lot to me.
    Wouldn't she make a great doll?

  2. WOW! Beautiful work, Dia. This, I think, is one of your masterpieces.

  3. Thanks Bob! It's the sort of figurative, fantasy illustration I tend to want to avoid lately... but, within it's genre, it's certainly the most labor-intensive thing I've ever done!

  4. Wow, I can imagine the whole epic tale, the big glossy pages. I hope you write her story! She kind of looks like she's expecting it. I love the reptilian, mosaic and Elizabethan mash-up motifs. Mysterious and beautiful, and only the tip of the iceberg.

  5. Many thanks for the enthusiasm, sweets... Her expression seems inscrutable to me though... and various... sometimes secretive, sometimes imploring, sometimes belligerent, and sometimes just sadly resigned.
    I hope I write her story, too!

  6. Still mesmerized by this, still think it is the beginning of a big glossy book with the whole story in it and loads of images from her world.