T-shirt Designs: Peperino & Dragons

What inspired this design?

It’s a spoof on the Fontana del Pegaso at the Villa Lante near Bagnaia, Italy. Winged horse; winged dragon.

You already did designs based on fountains at the Villa Lante. Why another design?

A lot of buildings (and fountains) that I have visited have sculptures – religious figures, angels, etc, as well as various animals. I like the idea of doing a design for such buildings, but not keen to draw the sculptures. So what to do? By substituting dragons – which are fun to draw – I have a solution to that problem.

Why draw dragons and not other creatures?

Dragons seem come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and feet configurations. So creativity abounds! And if I am drawing a replacement for the sculpture, then I feel free to design it as I please. Nobody is going to say – that dragon doesn’t match the horse.

I also feel less pressure to be realistic by drawing dragons. These designs are for t-shirts – a medium not known for realistic art presentation. I’d like my designs to capture the imagination – spark an interest in visiting the building or whatever. Or at least spark some creative imagination. So, I’m trying to capture the iconic essence and have some fun. Drawing dragons is fun.

In general, I don’t want to draw exact replicas of buildings. I desire to have artistic creativity. But also, I need to simplify the building to fit on the shirt. And sometimes, I feel something in the building is better omitted. I’d prefer to avoid replicating specific religious symbols, or religious writings, or alphabets/languages that I can’t read. Sometimes, I want to re-arrange the building to get items of interest into one frame. Or simply to get the building to fit on the t-shirt. I did this on the previous design with the Mezquita.

So why does the stone wall in the background look like Swiss cheese?

That’s the local peperino rock native to the region. When I first arrived in Soriano nel Cimino, I thought the peperino was ugly. I visited the Villa Lante during my stay in Soriano. The peperino is a rough, splotchy stone that looks like it has bird poop splattered all over. But by the end of the week, I had fallen in love with the peperino.

When you think of Italian sculpture and other works of art that are carved from stone, you most likely think of marble. Not all regions of Italy had a ready supply of marble to cut from the ground. While much of Italy has stone underfoot, the stone varies in color and quality from one region to another. Soriano nel Cimino – on the side of the Monti Cimini – a (hopefully) dead volcano – you have ground that is pyroclastic stone formed from the ash that spewed from the volcano eons ago.

This particular stone is medium to light gray in color and dotted with random white splotches. The peperino is a medium grain stone, rougher than the fine grain of marble. Despite not being the loveliest stone, it was carved into art simply because it was what was available. Importing marble was an expensive endeavor.

Most interestingly, Peperino is porous. It has rougher grain than marble, but that rougher grain is because of tiny holes, which allow water to seep through the stone. You find peperino carved in it;s original location where it was formed long ago, instead of being cut away form the ground and moved to a specific location. Peperino stone fountains were carved where there was already water flowing naturally out of the stone. The fountains designed to make the most of the natural water path.

Besides being an excellent choice for fountains, peperino was used for outdoor sculptures because it is resistant to being worn away by rain and wind. Marble sculptures require protection from the elements since marble is a relatively soft stone. The splotchy white & gray coloring of the peperino makes is easily identified. And once you get adjusted to looking at sculptures carved from a rougher stone, spotting it while exploring cities and gardens, is delightful.

On the previous Villa Lante fountain designs, I added whites splotches to the gray stone to represent the peperino. For this design, I decided to make the white splotches be the color of the shirt.

What is going on in your version of the fountain?

Fountains typically spout plumes of water, but dragons breathe flames. So red flames instead of water. The original fountain has Pegasus (the winged horse) as the center-piece. Then there are cupids surrounding him, spouting water at him. And the back wall has busts of Greek muses spouting more water at Pegasus.

So my fountain has a winged dragon for Pegasus. And flames spouting up instead of water. The back wall has two young dragons in lieu of the muses. These two dragons, being young, are playing around, bugging each other, instead of spouting flames [sic water] at Pegasus.

The Dragon’s skin is interesting…

Yes, I’ve been playing around with Gimp and learning more of what that software can do. I also have spent more time sketching out ideas with colored pencils. I’ve ordered a tablet & pen. Hoping to use that for a more freehand drawing style – tackle rocks and trees – as well as further develop my personal digital drawing style.  Traditionally, Pegasus is white, but for this design, I wanted the him to be really bright and colorful in contrast to the gray stone of the rest of the fountain and dragons.

The Pegasus Dragon has no eyes…

I tried various “eyes” but none seemed right.

So, the dragons have taken over, what is next?

I gave them email; hoping that they will settle down. Meanwhile, the shrimp is safe.

How can I get a T-shirt?

You can purchase our designs on T-shirts by visiting our online T-shirt Design Shop.  The new Villa Lante Designs are available here.