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Sea Dragon

Sunday, January 23, 2011

This was done by commission for Phil Velasquez, a writer who has commissioned many works from me to illustrate his stories.
Sometimes I'm really given some good ideas for work by stories that I've read. Most of all, in this painting, I wanted to show how powerful she was. He wanted the dragon to look more shocked and surprised by something, but I felt in this instance it was more important for the strength of the piece that she be graceful and powerful. I have given her an expression that captures a moment where her attention has definitely been caught suddenly by something, but I didn't hint too strongly at what, and I made her reaction more fierce than afraid.
The serpent is a very ancient and powerful symbol of feminine and masculine energy, and while some of my dragons are more cat-like, this one I wanted to be more serpentine. Feminine energy curves and swirls around rather than moving in a straight line, it gathers force with a coil, and masculine energy moves more in a straight line. Serpents do both, coiling and striking straightly, and so there is an element of masculine energy there, in balance with the feminine. The obvious phallic looking snake opens its mouth and swallows things whole, transforming its self from the convex to the concave. Serpents also appear to rejuvenate themselves as they grow by shedding their skins, thus giving them a seeming power over life, death, and transformation.
The trident is carried by Neptune who has dominion over the sea and over illusion or dreaming, and many powerful sea dwellers might use such a weapon as the trident. The trident is traditionally a symbol of knowledge and sacred power; the three tines that converge into or emerge from one shaft are reminiscent of the Holy Trinity (Maiden Mother Crone, or Father, Son, Holy Spirit). It is also very like the Nordic rune for protection; elhaz, indicating the splayed hand of protection, arms lifted up in prayer of invocation, the horns of the hart lifted up, or the swan in flight (a reference to the valkyrja).
This one I did in the painting is entwined with a coil that swirls around the shaft, and is held downward rather than upright, making it a symbol of the feminine principal.