Dot Dragon

Today’s watercolor experiment:

I’ve been a little frustrated with dots lately (Reticulations, Dot Matrix). I do admit, it is fun watching them disperse and make tiny little patterns (the drawing inks, that is). The calligraphy inks are a different story. They just spread out without a pattern at all. It is as if they want to get away from the center as fast as possible. The drawing inks don’t care. They would rather meander away from their point of dripping, exploring as they go.

Today I dripped. I was Jack the Dripper. I dripped from a height, I dripped from low down, I even placed the eye dropper directly on the paper and fired!  Afterwards, I tilted the board on which my paper was attached to move the errant ink around.

I was going to call this composition “Cr-a-zy Dots”, the way my granddaughter says ‘crazy’. Hard to convey in writing, but that’s what I was going to do.  I set it aside to dry and, when I came back I had another idea.

I had dripped some of the ultramarine blue in to each of two adjacent burnt sienna orbs. They looked like eyes. In fact the entire assemblage reminded me of something that I couldn’t quite articulate.  After a few muddled moments, I realized. I was looking at the essential components of a…. DRAGON!  I should have known right away. I was born in the year of the dragon, quite a while ago.


This morning when I was cutting my last watercolor off the block of paper, I inadvertently peeled off two sheets. To prevent warping of this single sheet, I had to tape it down to a board. The larger work surface probably enabled my lack of restraint today.

Once I visualized the rest of the dragon’s head, it was a small jump to realizing it on paper. My insouciance continued through this stage of the composition. I found an old brush that I didn’t care about and mercilessly disturbed the blob of gold in on the bottom of a clear yellow fluid in the ink bottle. I globbed the paint as dragon scales on the jaw area and two triangularly-shaped ear flaps at the top of the head.

I tried to billow some Payne’s gray watercolor around one nostril to generate smoke, when I had a great idea for flames.  I used spectrum red and spectrum yellow gouache from Winsor Newton. But I did not use a brush. I squeezed them out of the tube right onto the paper.

Here is my study for today:

Watercolor: Abstract Dragon - watercolor inks, paint and gouache impasto

Dot Dragon
12″x9″ 140# Rough Watercolor Block


Every now and then my painting process seems in the doldrums. I just can’t seem to muster excitement. That was the case today, until I saw the dragon. After that, I was sparked!  I left the blue tape in the photo, since it shows that I was not concerned about keeping myself within the boundaries.

I think it is fair to say that excitement is necessary in all fields of creativity. Whether it translates to the intended audience is a different matter, most likely a matter of technique.

6 thoughts on “Dot Dragon

  1. Very nice. I can see the fire from the dragons mouth. I can also see chrysanthemums – though perhaps they are a Japanese rather than a Chinese flower symbol? No matter – they are pleasing. A wonderful piece!


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