Earth Dragon

Working on commissions is a weird thing. There’s the thing the client asked for, and then there’s the ideas I have about it in my head, and then the ideas that come out on paper. My whole goal as an artist is to take the thing I “see” in my mind’s eye and put it on paper. Sometimes putting it on paper means layer upon layer of material where I harbor the hope that things are going in the right direction.

That’s not always the case. This project sketched out very quickly. I was inspired by a Dragon piece i fell in love with as a kid at the MFA. Sometimes I work my way from pencil into colors and it’s very easy to get in too deep with color. There’s only so far before you can’t back out anymore, and then details are lost. If you’re me, that then might mean a giant art board with a “failure” staring me in the face or a long time next to my desk. This is not the most gentle way to go about starting over. Sometimes it’s too easy to get caught up in negative thoughts. Sometimes this is (for me) the burden of making art for someone else. There are very little stakes if it’s a sketch, and that can make a piece very fun and free.

It took some time for me to get over screwing up the first few attempts at this piece. Finally I went in and worked in about 8 layers of ink, watercolor, guache, and then colored pencil. It’s really important to me that a character has attitude. I don’t care how simple the lines are, a form, a face, a shape… can be expressive. That usually means snarky, if you’re me. It can also mean “I know something you don’t know,” which is how I see this guy.


It takes constant relearning to pick the pencil back up and try a piece again when I’ve put in a lot of hours and it isn’t right. I’m getting better at *seeing* that sooner. It can even be a fun process when I can chill out enough about it. Here’s to chilling out more.

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