Dragon – Resurrection

As the name suggests, this one is all about the concept of transformation, to be precise, Resurrection or Anastasis. And what can represent this better than the celestial Phoenix! I have attempted to depict this very idea through the mythical bird’s rise from the ashes. For me, the phoenix is an eternal symbol of hope in the face of adversity.

The phoenix is often depicted as a large red bird rising up from a fire. This is because it symbolizes life after death or hope after destruction. In my artwork, it represents two philosophical principals:
• Out of troubled circumstances comes eventual good.
• Hope never dies.

I know what you’re thinking….Whatever happened to the dragon and how did the phoenix take its place? When the dragon feels cleansed of its misdeeds, he rises above himself and takes the leap of empathy. Having repented for his crimes by burning his sins to the ground, he seems to be “born again” from his own ashes and is renewed with new spiritual life. From these ashes, he is”resurrected” and rises like a new, rejuvenated being – the majestic Phoenix, the ultimate symbol of strength and renewal. He is like the sun that “dies” each night as it sets, only to be reborn in it’s rising the next morning.

Our mindset also undergoes a similar transformation after it frees itself from its frenzied state. When the fog clouding our better judgement has cleared and the dark clouds have moved on, our sanity returns and we obliterate all vices to rise above the turmoil created by the fury within. The resilient human spirit, having overpowered its state of delirium, emerges victorious from its catastrophic existence and rises like the Phoenix, stronger, smarter and more powerful, ready to make a fresh start.

Bringing out the phoenix in its full glory required a lot of hard work, trust me! The most distinctive feature of a phoenix is its plumage. If I were to describe it as an artist, it would be a ruff of yellow, orange and scarlet feathers, so radiant, so beautiful and so vibrant, that they seem to glow in the blaze of their own light. To bring out this brilliance, I have used the brightest tones of yellow, orange and red, the colors of glowing embers. I further enhanced this effect with an amazing technique called Impasto.

Impasto is a technique used in painting, where paint is laid on an area of the painting surface in very thick layers, usually thick enough to make the brush or palette-knife strokes visible. Paint can also be mixed right on the canvas. When dry, impasto provides texture and the paint appears to be “coming out” of the canvas.
Oil paint is the traditional medium for impasto painting, due to its thick consistency and slow drying time. Acrylic paint can also be used for impasto by adding heavy body acrylic gels. Since my medium of choice for this artwork was acrylic paints, I mixed them with modeling paste to thicken them further, thereby adding to the texture and giving the final outcome a so called 3D effect.
The modelling paste I used is good to go for both oil paints as well as acrylics ( see image below).

With acrylics, one can build up a thick, textured surface by applying the paint straight from the tube or thickening it with a gel medium. For a more dramatic textured effect, one can mix the color with acrylic impasto medium, like the one I have used in this painting. Impasto Gel Mediums are used to build thick texture. It is milky when wet but dries clear and remains flexible.

Another fun fact about impasto is that not only does it give the joy of creating innumerable textures, but also provides the flexibility to use everyday objects as wonderful tools to apply paint. You can push the boundaries of this technique with a palette knife, a brush, a spoon, a lid, you name it! In fact, I used an ear bud to achieve the finer details of the phoenix feathers…amazing right? I have personally achieved some pretty awesome textural effects simply by changing the applicator.
Another tip I can share with you all is that when you are applying your paint along with a medium, try to follow the “grain” of your painting. For example, I made my brushstrokes follow the lines of the phoenix feathers; this helped create the impression of a more realistic plume.

This technique served several purposes. Firstly, it made the light reflect in a particular way, giving me additional control over the play of light in the painting. Secondly, it made my painting more expressive, with the viewer being able to notice the strength and speed at which the paint was applied. Thirdly, impasto pushed my piece from a painting to a three-dimensional sculptural rendering. So, I managed to kill three birds with just one stone! All in all, a win-win situation for me, don’t you think?

So what are you all waiting for? Pull out those old canvases (yes, I am talking about those disastrous ones that didn’t turn out to be quite what you expected. They are perfect for exploring!) And if you are feeling brave enough, gesso them and paint over them using this breathtaking technique! Have the time of your lives chucking paint around!!

Dragon – Liberation

Hey folks! Time to introduce you all to the next artwork in my Dragon Series.

I call it “Dragon – Liberation”.

This one is an attempt to portray the transformation of the dragon into a calm and tranquil creature, which has chosen to let go of its brutal ways after witnessing its own destructive powers.
Having spewed out its toxic innards, it yearns for liberation, longing to be released from its self-inflicted savagery.
Feeling weighed down by the guilt of its murderous acts, it is craving to shed the load and redeem itself.
In an endeavor to escape the barbarity that is smothering it inside out, it spreads its mighty yet guilt-ridden wings and soars high into the vast expanse of space.
As it ascends to greater heights, it gradually sheds all desire for bloodshed and violence, thus feeling lighter and cleansed.
The mind is in a similar state of self-realization, thirsting for atonement.
Once the storm inside has settled and regret has taken over, the clouds of arrogance and vanity clear and all negative thoughts are set free.
In other words, letting go of one’s vices is like spreading the wings of liberation and taking off into the colossal realm of salvation.

The Technique – This one is yet another acrylic pour exploration, but with a slight twist. It is a pour against negative space.
Instead of the conventional dirty pour or flip cup, I have simply poured three different colors, namely, yellow, orange and red onto the canvas in the shape I desired to achieve, in this case a wing.
Prior to doing this, I poured black paint onto the canvas and tilted it to ensure that it is entirely coated in black, including the sides and edges, thus creating the negative space.
Thereafter, I poured the remaining three colors roughly in the form of a wing, using these cute little nozzle tip squeeze bottles (Sharing an image below).

Ain’t they cute?!

The advantage of using these is that you can control the flow as well as amount of the pouring mixture in order to obtain the desired effect.
The rest is the same…tilt until you get what you want!

And yes! I forgot to mention that I added silicone to the each pouring mixture except the black to get these amazingly cool looking cells that made my dragon wing look even more realistic!
It worked out pretty well for me as I got the result I was hoping for!!

Dragon – Repentance

Bridled with frenzy I hurled abuses,
My raging fury left nasty bruises.
My eyes nothing but a streak of pain,
Remorse runs deep within my veins.
I am full of regret, my head bowed in shame,
I cry tears of repentance, for I am to blame.

This artwork represents a repentant mental state that laments for atonement for its sins. I have attempted to bring out this emotion through the eye of the dragon. When the dragon is done wreaking havoc under the influence of its fiery streak of destruction, his insatiable thirst for annihilation starts to wane. As the smog of chaos and hysteria clears, the destruction caused by his crusade becomes visible to him and realization sets in about what he has done. The burning rage in his eyes is suddenly replaced by a streak of painful remorse. Overcome with guilt, he longs for penance and his anguish flows out of his eyes in the form of tears of repentance. The human mind, similarly, longs for retribution after letting loose its carnage. The venomous anger and fury that it spewed on its helpless victims, haunts it until it is overwhelmed with shame and regret for what it has done.

In this piece of art, I have experimented with yet another unique technique called Crackling. It is visible in the background of the painting in the form of cracks and crevices and gives a worn out and aged look, thus representing the weathered appearance of a dragon in distress. By applying a layer of glue or crackle medium between 2 layers of latex or acrylic paint, you can give almost any surface a faux finish. Glue absorbs much of the water from the paint. As the surface of the paint is drying, the glue is swelling or stretching from this additional moisture. The swelling of the glue effectively “pulls apart” the top coat of paint. As a result, the crackle effect is achieved. Pretty scientific, don’t you think? The process involves applying a base coat of latex or acrylic paint followed by a layer of glue once the paint has dried. Thereafter the second layer of paint is applied on top of the glue while it is still semi dry or “tacky” to the touch. Crackle painting works on many different surfaces and materials, such as ceramic and canvas. However, it typically looks most realistic on wooden pieces that naturally weather over time.

While store-bought crackle medium allows you to quickly create the look of a cracked, weathered paint finish, you can achieve the same look without the premade product. Make your own crackle medium from regular school glue or wood glue for a fraction of the cost. Homemade crackle medium works on any surface that can be brushed with glue and latex or acrylic paint. Wood, paper, cardboard and thick fabrics such as art canvases are all potential project surfaces. A homemade crackle medium is an incredibly simple recipe, requiring only suitable glue. School glue and wood glue both work; school glue is generally less expensive and available at more stores. Apply glue over the entire piece if you want all of it to crackle, but if the project is large, work in a small area at a time, otherwise the glue will dry too fast. Use a flat latex or acrylic paint for the top coat; otherwise the crackling may not happen. Brush the paint over the glue while it is still tacky to achieve the crackle effect. Brush only once over the glue, rather than using several brushstrokes in the same area or you may hinder the crackling process. As the paint and glue dry, the cracks occur.

Here are a few more tips to help you achieve crackle effect successfully:

If you’ve used a commercially sold crackle medium before, don’t expect as long of a wait between applying your crackle medium and applying the top paint color.
• Glue-based crackle medium is dry enough to paint in a matter of minutes, so touch the project after five or 10 minutes to see if the glue is almost dry but still tacky.
• If the glue dries completely and you’ve missed the painting-time window, apply another coat of glue and get ready to paint.
• For large cracks, apply a thick layer of glue, and use a thin layer for small cracks.
• Pick a color that contrasts well with your base coat color to get the best visual effects. For example, if your base coat is bright yellow, you might consider choosing navy blue as a top coat.
• Allow the paint to dry completely so that the cracks stay intact.
• Use a spouncer brush to sponge-paint the top coat if you want spider web-like cracks.

The Art Dungeon is back!

Yo people! Sorry for being MIA!! I was compelled to take a break from my blog as I was relocating. Moving house was on the cards in the distant future, but due to unforeseen circumstances, had to do so sooner than I expected. Have been packing, shifting and unpacking for the last two weeks and phew! Am I glad it’s over!! Now that I have settled into my new nest, and my Art Dungeon is up and running again, I am all set and rearing to go on with my posts! So, I shall make my comeback and continue with my ongoing Dragon Series. Once again, apologies for the lack of posts last couple of weeks. Now that the blog is back in business, so am I!!

Dragon – Wrath

When the dragon breathes fire, all hell breaks loose. The devastating flames expelled from its gullet via its mouth annihilate whatever crosses their path. It is believed that this ruinous blaze can cut through rock like a hot knife cuts through a stick of butter. As the dragon grows, both in age and size, so does its fire power, almost as if the flames churning inside its belly are gradually building up into a blistering inferno.

This searing conflagration is the subject of my next painting, Dragon – Wrath. When the molten broth depicted in my previous artwork has built up to a point where it cannot be contained anymore within its glowing furnace, it rises up the gullet and en route to the mouth, the noxious fumes of a highly inflammable aerosol are released through two orifices. The minute a spark from the fiery cauldron hits this froth, it lights up to create a plume of fire and Kaboom!! It wreaks havoc mercilessly on its helpless victims. The torrential outburst of a livid human mind resembles this smoldering eruption. As the flames of fury build up inside the head, all reasoning and intellect are engulfed by them, and the obnoxious poison that is released, sets free the most dreadful of all emotions…anger. This exasperated and irrational mental state is a ticking time bomb like Drogon, triggered off to explode by the Dragon Queen’s command….DRACARYS!!(Love dragons! Gotta love GOT!!)
The technique I have employed here is the simple Flip Cup, which I have described in detail in one of my earlier posts. In short, it is just a layering of colors mixed with pouring medium and silicone in a single cup, which is flipped quickly in a swift motion onto the canvas and allowed to flow and spread with the help of a little tilting. The addition of silicone is optional, depending on whether you wish to create cells or not. In this case, I chose not to add silicone as I felt cells would give it a more organic look, which I did not want. I have used shades of yellow, red and black to depict the simmering heat, not just of the dragon’s breathe, but also of the violent temper inside a mind mad with rage. While the yellow and red symbolize the fatal nature of the dragon, hence a destructive mentality, the black gives a glimpse of the catastrophic end…when all that is left is smoke, soot and vapor.

Dragon – The Fire Within

So, the next installment of my Dragon Series is an Acrylic Pour, my very first for that matter. Before I get into the technicalities of the procedure itself, let me run you through the essence of the artwork.

This one is a sequel to “Camouflage” and gets “inside the skin” of the beast, literally and of the human mind, figuratively. Under the impenetrable crust of the scales, a fire blazes within the belly of this colossal creature, simmering in a broth of molten flames. This molten blaze is a metaphor for the turbulent storm raging within the mind of an infuriated human. The tempest continues to brew inside the fiery precipice, churning and seething, threatening to spew forth its impending doom.

I have attempted to depict this smoldering inferno through the Pour and Swipe method of acrylic pouring. The color palette I have used comprises of warm tones of fire, namely yellow, orange and red, with black acting as a contrast. I mixed each color in a 1:1 ration with Liquitex pouring medium and diluted it further with water to get a flowing consistency. Except for the black, I added 2 to 3 drops of silicone to the rest of the colors. The secret to getting cells to form in your pour mainly lies in the stirring. If you want big cells, then a couple of gentle stirs is enough, but, if you want numerous small cells, then give your concoction a nice vigorous mix. Let the mixtures stand for a few minutes for the reaction to take place and air bubbles to pop.

Thereafter, I poured the yellow, orange and red vertically across the canvas and tilted it gently to ensure the entire surface, including the sides were covered with paint. The next step was to pour the black paint horizontally on one end of the canvas. Then, with the help of a swiping tool (you can use almost anything, from an old credit card, a piece of card board to even a price tag card!), I dragged this black paint across vertically from one end of the canvas to the other, so that it went over all the other colors. What happened thereafter was pure magic! Beautiful cells started to form, as the colors overlapped and the silicone reacted with them. One thing I had to look out for was the formation of air bubbles. This problem can be solved with the help of a flame gun. Not only does it pop the bubbles, but also accelerates the formation of cells.

The end result quite resembled red hot molten lava, spewing and bubbling, overflowing with rage and fury, on the verge of breaking out of its slumber. I decided to be a little more adventurous and tipped the canvas a bit more, resulting in the cells also flowing around to form random, convulsing shapes, giving the effect of boiling hot magma. Phew! Boy was I lucky!! This is exactly what I wanted! Acrylic pour really works wonders in the most unexpected ways.    

Dragon – Camouflage

Hey all! Sharing a really cool new technique that I came across and used for my next piece of art. It’s called PEEL PAINTING. It’s one of a kind and I had loads of fun trying it out! The best part about this method of painting is that not only is it quick and easy, but also produces, not one, not two but multiple paintings, depending on how much paint you have used. It basically involves squeezing paint between two surfaces, then “peeling” them apart to reveal all these intricate and cool textured, veiny lines…and Voila! You have a Peel Painting!! Read on for a more detailed description.

The scales of a dragon are largely impervious to flames, hence serving as protection for the more vulnerable flesh and musculature beneath. As a dragon ages and becomes more ferocious, its scales thicken and harden, providing not just protection, but also camouflage to this beastly predator’s fiery cauldron. The human mind builds around itself, a similar impregnable fortress, which conceals its deepest and darkest emotion, namely, anger. Not only does it attempt to conceal it, but also struggles to contain it within. Just as the scales of the dragon serve as an armour to its burning fury, the mind tries to disguise its frenzy by appearing dispassionate and unaffected, thereby attempting to blend into oblivion.
And now for the fun part! PEEL PAINTING!! I used this awesomely fun technique
to depict the scales of a dragon in this artwork. As the name suggest, it involves peeling! I dropped blobs of paint randomly onto the canvas, (keeping in mind the composition I wanted to achieve, of course), then pressed another canvas or canvas sheet on top. After applying considerable amount of pressure to ensure that the paint had spread evenly all over the canvas, I literally “peeled” off the canvas on top and I am happy to say, I successfully achieved the effect I was aiming for! Not only did the colors merge and blend-in perfectly, but also rose out of the canvas in the form of “peeks”, if I may call them that. I thought they pretty much gave the effect of dragon scales! What say?

The Dragon Within

It is said that dragons are fire transformed into flesh. They emanate so much heat from their bodies that they steam during cold nights, as if sweating fire. Their breath is so hot that the flames they exhale are used by them to cook the meat they consume. They are a burning furnace of hot, molten lava on the inside, sheathed on the outside by an impenetrable crust… The Scales.
So look out for my next artwork, which is an expression of this anatomical attribute of the dragon, hence the superficial veil of the human mind. Keep following for more!!

Dragon-Fury

Hey fellow art lovers! As promised, I am back with my next post!! Come join me as I dissect the dragon, hence the human mind further, digging deeper inside, in search of the innermost receptacle of its darkest emotion…ANGER.

This composition, titled Dragon-Fury, represents the enraged being at its destructive best. It also symbolizes the turbulent state of the human mind, when it is at the peak of its ferocity. The monstrous creature, when in rage, fills its belly with smoldering embers, depicted through luminous hues of yellow and red for the dragon’s abdominal muscles. As the frenzy builds up, the fuming embers ascend the gut and illuminate the gullet of the ferocious creature, as seen in the painting. The storm continues to build inside, until it cannot be held back anymore by the dragon(in other words, the human mind), and inevitably explodes like a volcanic eruption. I have illustrated this wrath in the form of molten flames emerging from the dragon’s mouth. How did I do the flames? Well, that’s where the secret lies! It was a painstakingly slow process of melting wax crayons over the canvas, graduating from yellow to red..but it was worth the effort, as I was quite happy with the end result!

Coming Up Next….

After exploring the physiological nature and the mental psyche of our beloved Saphira, I have attempted to dissect her psychotic rage further and dig deeper into her anatomy. At the same time, I am excavating into the emotional archives of the subconscious human mind, with an endeavour to analyse the metamorphosis of the delirium building up inside it….Coming Soon…The Dragon – Inside Out!