Painting Chinese Dragons

As discussed in a previous blog post, Chinese Dragon Origins, the crocodile, and therefore, the Dragon have the power to control the weather. This means that Chinese Dragons move through the air, not by beating wings (which they do not have) but freely as if swimming, their incredibly flexible bodies twisting and turning without effort.

Their long bodies undulate, swirl and loop through the air while their legs can be seen to flail in all directions, almost as if disconnected from their bodies. Tip: This can make it easier to paint them. Their claws are hyperactive and wide open as if ready to take prey, or to grasp a huge pearl…

Dragon characteristics

There is some interpretation of a Dragon’s characteristics but here follows the essence of a Dragon, which may be drawn on, when creating your own. Below is an example of a Song Dynasty Dragon using the characteristics detailed below:

Song Dragon 2 - Paul Maslowski 2021
Song Dragon 2 (with flailing legs) – Paul Maslowski 2021

There are nine characteristics detailed here, some of which come from Zodiac animals. There could be more, or less, depending on which tradition you follow or how detailed you wish to make your painting. I have added examples of Dragon characteristics as I have come across them. They could have the:

  • Head of a camel
Head - Camel Bactrian tri-coloured detail - 690-750AD Tang
Head – Camel Bactrian tri-coloured detail – 690-750AD Tang
  • Eyes of a hare
Eye - Double Happiness detail - Magpies and Hare - Cui Bai
Eye – Double Happiness detail – Magpies and Hare – Cui Bai
  • Ears of a Buffalo or Ox
Ear - Five Oxen detail - Han Huang
Ear – Five Oxen detail – Han Huang
  • Antlers of a deer
Antlers - Lingzhi and Deer detail - Bada Shanren
Antlers – Lingzhi and Deer detail – Bada Shanren
  • Neck of a serpent
Neck - Snake on bamboo - detail
Neck – Snake on bamboo – detail
  • Paws of a tiger
Paw - Tiger family detail
Paw – Tiger family detail
  • Talons of an eagle
Talons - Eagle
Talons – Eagle
  • Scales of a carp
Scales - The pleasure of fishes - detail - Zhou Dongqing 1291
Scales – The pleasure of fishes – detail – Zhou Dongqing 1291
  • Long whiskers…
Whiskers - Five-Clawed Imperial Yellow Dragon detail
Whiskers – Five-Clawed Imperial Yellow Qing Dynasty Dragon detail

More on Chinese Dragon symbolism is available on the blog post linked here.

Please note: The Calligraphy for Dragon, along with the other Zodiac Animals is available on the link here.

I wish you Happy Dragon painting. Should any of these blog posts inspire you to paint Chinese Dragons please do post back your creations as I would love to see them…

Paul

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