Summer Recollections

Documentation of the work I did over the Summer…

The first project I did was a commissioned piece for “The Golden Dragon ” Chinese restaurant in New Delhi which my family and I have been going to on a weekly basis for the past few years. The story behind how this all came about it this…once upon a time a few years ago when we started going to the restaurant, at the end of the meal they gave us a guest book to sign. My parents told me to write something in it…and I impulsively drew something in it as well….and from that point onwards I was frequently given the quest book and kindly asked by the head waiter to make another drawing for them. So after a stream of such drawings, it got to the point I was running out of ideas…but little did I know what was to come next. Right before this summer, they renovated the restaurant to give it a nice modern interior. There was one big wall that was left blank and my parents and I both had the same idea when we saw it…that I could do a painting for the restaurant. We met with the manager and it made me smile when he recounted seeing all the drawings I had made in the guest books…nice to know I had made such a memorable impression. The manager agreed to the idea. So I took measurements of the wall and planned out roughly how big the piece should be (decided on 55cm x 220cm).

I set about doing some preliminary research into Chinese dragons, looking into various tapestries, sculptures, paintings and so on…I read about some of the stories and myths about dragons and also began compiling key features from the different dragons I saw, features that I wanted to include in my own dragon. I wanted to make a Chinese Dragon but with my own take on it, in my own style. I made a few sketches based right off of some of the images I found through my research (unfortunately I left those in India along with the research)…nonetheles here is a quick excerpt I based my design upon…

Further sources give variant lists of the nine animal resemblances. Sinologist Henri Doré lists these characteristics of an authentic dragon: “The horns of a deer. The head of a camel. A demon’s eyes. The neck of a snake. A tortoise’s viscera. A hawk’s claws. The palms of a tiger. A cow’s ears. And it hears through its horns, its ears being deprived of all power of hearing.”[6] He notes that, “Others state it has a rabbit’s eyes, a frog’s belly, a carp’s scales.” The anatomy of other legendary creatures, including the chimera and manticore, is similarly amalgamated from fierce animals.



(this is a digital sketch I made quite by accident by mirroring two images of hand made paper next to each other, and in the centre of the mirrored paper I saw the makings of a dragon…so I took off on that idea and emphasized and developed what was already implied there to begin with)

The final sketch I made was almost identical to the final piece shown below, but in the sketch the dragon was a bit more condensed.  I replicated the sketch on the handmade Indian paper I intended to use for the final piece (to see if it would actually work with the gold acrylic applied to it). I decided on a red and gold colour scheme because that was the scheme of the new interior of the restaurant. This sketch was then approved by the manager (no corrections or changes necessary).

I had to adapt my original sketch as I went along, in the process of physically making the final piece. Also, the twirly squares around the edges of the final pieces are referenced directly from border-like designs of the restaurant’s interior. For the final piece I put three sheets of the paper together, trimmed a bit off each of them to get the overall piece the right size.

“The Golden Dragon”


[link to larger version]

This final piece took about two weeks, and then a bit more time to be framed. I call this piece a commission but in truth it was a promotion piece (for me) and a gift for the restaurant. Though, I agreed with the manager that if he wanted more (since the Golden Dragon restaurant is a chain all over Delhi) I would be willing to take a proper commission on. Later in the summer I recieved word that in fact he would like more, but unfortunately by that time I was working on another project and couldn’t take on more work at the time. But, perhaps this would be something to do in the summer of 2009?

My main project over the summer was a series of paintings….I was working according to given dimensions and themes. I can’t elaborate as much on these pieces because the situation surrounding them is a bit complicated…

Nonetheless I made mockups for all the pieces… (the original pencil sketches are in India)

Painting 1:

110 cm x 110 cm (theme: fire, warmth)

These three here are small A3 mock-ups which started out simply as experiments in new media (oil paint and acrylic modeling paste). They snuck into this summer project and influenced the pieces I made.  The series below became the preliminary work for the “Four Seasons”, “First Flame”, and “Mystic’s Mandala” pieces. The image below are explorations of the visual representation of natural elements: fire, wind, water and earth.


Painting 1 is essentially a bigger and better version of the first mock up here, the red one.

Painting 2:

120 cm x 120 cm (theme: India)

I decided to base this piece around a rough mandala structure (circle within a square) and around mehindi hand tatoo designs. The first image below is the original mock-up I did with oil paint on canvas paper. Then I scanned it in, in order to quickly finish it up and see how it would look (Photoshop made things much easier and quicker…especially since oil paint takes forever to dry).


Painting 3:

120 cm x 250 cm (theme: four seasons)

For this piece I didn’t have a traditional medium mock-up, and to speed up the process I dumped my original pencil sketch idea directly into Photoshop and worked from there. Straight away I established that if I am going to categorize the seasons accoridng to their associated colours, I will need to re-arrange them for the sake of the piece…so that red and blue balance each other on the ends of the piece (red=autumn, blue= winter)


The Final Pieces…


“First Flame”

aka painting 1

mystics-mandala-jpeg“The Mystic’s Mandala”

aka painting 2


“Four Seasons”

aka painting 3

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