A Brief(ish) History of Me and Dragons
I have loved dragons since I was a child. There's just no beating these awesome, majestic, fantastical beasts - although I regularly got annoyed that beating them was usually the point in any film or story they appeared in. I suppose they combined the childhood fascination with dinosaurs and dreams of flight, together with a happy bonus of being able to burn to a crisp anyone who annoyed them.
At secondary school I remember one of my proudest art class moments being the completion of a chicken-wire and papier mache dragon sculpture, complete with its own fluffy cotton wool cloud. I also recall the day our librarian introduced me to the work of author Anne McCaffrey. Imagine my joy at discovering a whole series of books about dragons being telepathic world-saving partners to their human riders! These stories weren't just about killing the dragons, hurrah!
I strayed away from artistic endeavours for a while during college, although my notes still featured the occasional doodle dragon or casual shark swimming through.
Fast forward to university, where the dragon doodles started to multiply, and I often had a small pad just for sketching in my bag. At this point I had also discovered DeviantArt, and from there started following the work of NeonDragon, among others. There were tutorials for drawing dragons! Such joy! I'm pretty sure those tutorials helped my confidence as much as my art.
After a while my room sported a growing wall of sketches, all held together with paperclips and suspended from string. Friends who came by would sometimes comment positively, or even ask for sketches for their rooms. Eventually this bolstered my confidence enough to start making prints of some sketches and putting them on hand made cards, which I sold (people were actually willing to give me money for art, wow!) at a few uni society fundraisers and later at small local craft fairs.
After university I went off on a bit of a tangent, reviving skills from an old silver jewellery class and then teaching myself to work with leather. The art supplies mostly got put to one side again, although I never really broke the habit of keeping a small sketch pad in my bag.
Skip ahead to October 2015, and the #Inktober event on Facebook. I don't really know why, but something in me said 'pick up a pen', so I did. I used sheets from a memo pad on my desk and just drew some little inky doodles, dragons and fish and giant squid approaching cliff-side castles, as you do. I got such a positive response early on that it spurred me on to try out some larger designs, one of which still seems to be a solid favourite with some.
It reminded me how much I enjoy drawing. At some point in the intervening years I'd also found enough self confidence to be able to look at my own work and say 'actually, this isn't half bad you know' (yes, this is about as positive as I could get).
So now I continue to draw dragons, because dragons are awesome. That's pretty much it really.
...Well ok also because I'm reasonably good at them after years of intermittent practice, and because they present loads of options for form and colour variation (so much still to explore!), and because I love a bit of cheerful fantasy when the world is feeling bleak and grey.
That's not necessarily the happiest note to end on, so I shall go on to say that I've always preferred the stories where dragons are chatty, wise, curious, mischievous or otherwise characterful in some way other than simply being the 'monster'. Don't get me wrong, I can still appreciate them as large powerful predators who take no nonsense and have no issues with toasting people who offend them, I just prefer to dream of the friendly ones.