I was very happy to see Dave's Dragon, with its knotwork tongue, because I have always felt that dragons and knotwork were two things very distinct within his style. They were fantastic. I would never have seen that lurking in that first sketch, but I was very happy that he did!
I had a lot to live up to with the next part. We'd talked about having elements distinct to each of our styles, so I tried to think about what is distinct in my style. We had talked about having an eagle, so I wanted to give that a try, but I never drew an eagle before, so I wasn't sure how much it would look like my style. One thing I know I do a lot is to make small flowers. So, I started there. I'd need a vine structure underneath small flowers, too. Almost immediately, I abandoned the bridge idea, and drew in some vines that would fit around the flat, frame-like component from the initial sketch. I also wanted to keep the central part, for Dave and I to try to do something together. So - I was focusing on the top half of the frame.
I started with a vine structure, and sketched in an eagle. I had made a few side-sketches of an eagle, after looking at a few photographic references. I was trying to decide on a position, and some generalities that make an eagle an eagle. There's something about the shape and strength of the wings and tail, along with the hooked beak and stern-looking eye, that I felt made an eagle look like an eagle. I knew one position I liked was what I saw at Eagle's Point at the Grand Canyon... if rocks could look so distinctly like an eagle, then I could certainly find a simple way to draw an eagle. After sketching a few positions, the position you see in this first drawing is where I landed.
I liked the movement, and I liked having lots of wing showing. Also, with this position, he could wrap around the frame, and enough of him would still show from the front of the spoon. The only hesitation I had was, it looked very literal. I didn't have a solution, though, so I moved on, for the moment.
One thing I learned in school (where I was mainly a painter), was to work on the whole piece, and not to be too precious with any one part. So I moved on to vines, coming up from the dragon's tongue and tail. I have to admit - I really like drawing vines and leaves. I see celtic knotwork, and I think: that looks fun! I want to try that! But, then I end up staring at a blank page for a while. Instead, I have decided that vines are my version of knotwork, though they are not very distinct like knotwork can be. Regardless, I like vines, and I try to keep to the over-under rule of celtic knotwork, as much as I can. So you see this first vine structure in this first drawing, too.
Next, I moved on to the little flowers idea.
There are lots of types of little flowers I could draw. I wanted to do something somewhat star-shaped - so - 5 petals.
I started with this drawing with lots of little star-shaped flowers scattered over the vines.
I was going for different-sized flowers, to try to make them interesting. But, it just looked cluttered. I wasn't very sold on this sketch... I didn't even get around to drawing in the eagle. I still kept it, just in case Dave would see anything in there that I didn't.
Next, I tried a different vine structure, and the same type of flowers. This time, I drew in the eagle, and had him landing on one of the vines.
Hmm.... I liked the leaves sort of outlining the flat frame part on the sides... but wasn't sure how I felt about the rest. This would be just another sketch to see if there was any redeeming value. I did like the idea of the eagle being integrated into the vinework, even if it was in such a literal way. Here, I kept with the star-shaped simple flowers.
I still wasn't feeling it, though, so I kept drawing. I drew another arrangement of vines, this time going further with the outline idea around the frame. I also made some different flowers, like flowers I have enjoyed carving before. That might make them more distinctly "me", too. I was starting to like this one. I drew more vines, dangling from the inside top. I liked the look of this. I wasn't sure what, exactly to do with whatever came down into the center, but I knew I liked the idea. I thought it could help bring us into the center part, that Dave and I had been talking about having as something more merging our two styles. I was hoping Dave was formulating some ideas towards that center, while I was working on the top. Meanwhile, I was starting to feel good about this latest sketch:
So, I drew in some background to help make it easier to see. I had reached a point where I wanted input from Dave, so I sent these 4 sketches over to him. I also told him I was concerned about how literal the eagle was, and wondered if he had any suggestions for how to make it more stylized. I also wondered if he was having thoughts about the center part, as I was still drawing a blank about that. I also told him that I wasn't too concerned about the placement of the flowers, but was interested in what he thought of the different vine configurations, or if he especially liked a certain type of flower. Like I said - I just wanted some input from Dave at this point. :) I just hoped I hadn't given him information overload. I think I was already there. Let's see where Dave goes next!
P.S. As an afterthought a few days later, I made an attempt at a stylized eagle - made of vines, and fitting into the rest of the vines. I also wanted to see how another type of small flowers might fit - this time, broader petals, like buttercups. So, despite the probably-too-many other sketches of eagle and flowers, I ventured into one more, and sent it along to Dave, to consider along with the others. Here's that last sketch: