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It's the year of the Dragon!

As I wondered how I'd illustrate this blog to celebrate the Dragon I remembered that I did an etching of a dragon years ago when I was working at Blackburn's, or The Printmakers Workshop.

Here he is.

intaglio etching od a dragon in a dark blue night sky

I thought he was pretty formidable until a fellow etcher said I should name him Chubby. Chubby the Dragon. That pretty much killed it for me and I put him away.

Here's another dragon, by Trina Shart Hyman, from her Caldecott Award winning book, Saint George and The Dragon. Now that's a Dragon. Nobody's calling him Chubby.

Saint George and the Dragon by Trina Shart Hyman

The reminds me of when my Aunt Jan told me she had colon cancer. I had read an article that said you have to fight cancer with your mind; picture yourself in a battle-- the cancer is the enemy and you're a mighty warrior. You go to battle with all your strength and vanquish the foe. All in your mind but the mind has the power to heal. So I bought this book for Jan and told her to imagine her cancer as the dragon and she would be the valiant Saint George. Unfortunately she fell in love with the dragon and was sad when he died. Well, that was Jan. I still miss her and I'm still irked with her for not taking care of herself. As a nurse she knew better than to skip her colonoscopy. So I'll tell you. If you have any kind of test coming up do not neglect it. Get the test. get the shot. Get the vaccine. button up your overcoat. Take good care of yourself.

But let's talk about art. Trina Shart Hyman is one of my favorite illustrators, up there with N.C.Wyeth, Maurice Sendak, Hillary Knight--my Pantheon. Look at the full page of the dragon--how she gets a sense of his scale by extending the tail into the next page and entwining it around the text.

I love the tiny pictures in the corners of sea monsters under ships, as if the dragon wasn't scary enough. This allowed me to do two things at once; read to my kids and think about my work. I've been putting decorative borders on my drawings ever since.

And her Heros! Maurice Sendak, who is in the news this week for a posthumous book coming out titled Ten Little Bunnies. Wednesday's Times had an article about his home which has been perfectly preserved and may become a museum. He once remarked that the princes in many fairy tales seem a bit, well, effete? I think what he actually said was, "There won't be much of a wedding night after those happy endings." Trina Shart Hyman's princes and knights are extremely handsome, manly dudes.

a handsome young man in medieval dress
Saint George

And her horses! Each one is a character in his own right.

Sleeping Beauty's Prince

Her Little Red Riding Hood has the best wolf. Am I wrong or is he really sexy? I'd definitely take a walk in the woods with this guy.

To get back to the Year of the Dragon, the other day as I walked to the gym thinking about the Lunar New Year I passed a new store on 8th Avenue with this display.

a collection of Blue and White China

It reminded me of this drawing,

Blue and White Pen & Ink drawing titled Blue Willow
Blue Willow

which I started after staring at the plates in our favorite Chinese Restaurant. I loved making this.

It came to mind when I felt I was overdoing the red and gold in this piece,

Pen & Ink drawing of elevation of a house in shades of red and gold
House of Red and Gold

and added a tiny touch of blue. No wonder I perked up at the display on 8th Avenue. It looked like a bunch of old friends.

Here's a review of this week's progress on Pagoda in the Pines.

I've been waiting on delivery of a new jar of Calli Green, one of my favorite colors--it's very deep and rich--perfect for pine trees. I can never find it in the stores. It arrived today so I'm very happy although I thought I ordered two jars and I only got one. Oh, well.

Here's the next phase, with a border. I'm afraid it's looking very Christmas-y not that I don't like Christmas but it's not what I intended. It may look different when I put in the sky.

I can't put watercolor over the border because I discovered that the red ink is not waterproof. OY.

Happy New Year

Gong xi fa cai! kung hei fat choy!

Wishing you the spirit and vitality of the dragon!

I wish all of you good health and the best of success in all your endeavours.

Wishing you a huge slice of happiness this new year!

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