Sometime in the month of May of this year, I had one of those magical evenings that seem to leave an impression long after. It was that time of the day when the sun is low and everything looks golden. As I was cleaning the water trough for my equine creatures, I left the gate open to allow them to have some time with the spring grass. Their activity on the lawn attracted the attention of the horses in the next pasture who came by to say hello. Dutchess, the ponderous Belgian mare, had no difficulty hanging her head and heavily arched neck over the gate to sniff at the newcomers. Iris accepted the greeting and extended her finely-formed swan’s neck, and for one moment they shared a gentle moment of sniffing nostrils as they acknowledged each other. (The moment directly afterward consisted of nipping and squeals)
“Greeting” is a painting I made to try to capture that refined moment of horse etiquette.
One principle in color theory is that layering basic colors close to another so that they are visually mixed by the eye leads to a richer result than mixing the colors together as a solid block of pigment; for example, lightly sketching red, blue, and yellow together to create the impression of brown rather than only using a brown pencil. Artists are encouraged to use this principle by carefully observing the color of the subject’s undertones and shadows to bring depth and life to the picture instead of just using black or white to darken or lighten a picture. The sister to this principle is the one of complementary colors: the color of the shadow will usually be opposite on the color wheel from the color of the highlight. A scene with blue shadows, for example, will have orange tones in the highlights. Usually the shadows will be dominated by a cool color, but warm shadows can lead to interesting results!
Here is a quick sketch of some black-eyed-susans. Each one uses a different color for the shadow and highlight undertones. Clockwise from left are purple and yellow, blue and orange, green and pink, and deep red with light green. Which result is your favorite? Tell me in the comments!
After a few weeks with no new work, I decided to change things up a bit with a quick and dirty little colored pencil picture. Anyone who is familiar with the world of Pokemon knows about Snorlax, the Sleeping Pokemon. While world famous for eating and sleeping, Snorlax can also learn the technique surf to ferry the player across water in the Pokemon games. So in the spirit of summer, I decided to make a little sketch of Snorlax hanging ten.
Particular challenges in this project were portraying the transparency of the wave, and the water shining on the surfboard.
In Chinese and Japanese mythology, it is said that if a carp swims upstream and climbs a certain waterfall, known as the Dragon’s Gate, he will be transformed into a Dragon. This legend has made the carp (also called koi fish) into a symbol of perseverance. The koinobori is a kite shaped like a carp that is flown on Children’s Day in Japan. Blowing in the wind it resembles a carp swimming upstream and is meant to express the hope that the children will grow up with the strength of the dragon.
This legend is the source of the seemingly bizarre relationship between Magikarp and Gyarados in the Pokemon universe. Magikarp is an infamously weak koi fish Pokemon which if trained to level 20, through the perseverance and persistence of the trainer, becomes the powerhouse dragon Pokemon Gyarados. The in-game technique of waterfall, used to swim up waterfalls and usually earned by the player late in the quest, is probably also a reference to this legend.
Speaking of Gyarados, why is this Pokemon, which clearly looks like a dragon and is based on a legend of a dragon, not a dragon type? And why does it gain the disadvantageous addition of flying type when evolving from the pure water typed Magikarp? I, like others, suspect that Gyarados was intended to be dual typed water/dragon. I imagine this was changed at the last minute due to type weaknesses and resistances; dragon was only weak to two types: ice and itself, while the second type of water resists ice attacks. This would leave Gyarados vulnerable only to dragon type attacks, which in the first generation of Pokemon games consisted solely of “Dragon Rage” (which does set damage and doesn’t take weakness or resistance into account) thus making Gyarados invincible.
Below is my interpretation of the legend of the Koi and Dragon featuring Magikarp and Gyarados. The Japanese Kanji is read “ken-nin-fu-batsu” and translates to “indomitable perseverance or invincible fortitude”