Art Spotlight: Dianne Gardner and Ian’s Realm

I guess the whole Ian’s Realm Saga started from my secret desire to paint a dragon.

If I wrote a book about dragons, then I’d be forced to paint one eventually, wouldn’t I?

I threw the idea out to some of my grandchildren. They were immediately inspired!

So I thought I had better get busy before they get too far ahead of me. This is, after all, a story for them…from me.

So I went to the art supplier in Port Townsend. Our local suppliers don’t carry large canvas and I knew the dragon in this story was going to be big. I mean really big! Well, at least as big as my little Honda Fit can carry. Which turned out to be 36 X 48.

I’ve never painted a dragon before. I knew what I wanted him to look like, kind of. I bought a little plastic dragon sculpture thinking I could study how light might shine on a dragon…but it dropped off my table and the wings fell off before I had a chance to study the lights.

So I scrambled together some sketches, some photos of horses, a rhinoceros and any kind of wicked reptile I could find…lizards, gila monsters…and some excerpts from my story that describe the dragon. Slowly he emerged from the stormy skies.

I think the very hardest thing I ever painted in my life was a dragon. I’m used to having models to sit for me. Needless to say, I couldn’t find a dragon to sit still long enough.

So in the process I started posting my WIP on my blog (it’s probably still there somewhere at ) and decided I needed a name for this very personal marble-eyed monster. I held a blog contest and got quite a wonderfulcollection of names. Because there are different ethnic groups in the Realm, we went with a few different names, the most common being Stenjheart, or Stone Heart.

Well, being the wild person that I am, I thought it’d be kind of cool to add a little gold leaf to the mix.

some scales and claws…

Well, I let Stenhjaert sit for awhile, quite pleased that I finally painted a dragon. That is until I finished Deception Peak. I needed a cover. I couldn’t use Stenjhaert. The dragon was for the second book, The Dragon Shield.I needed a mountain. Besides, Stenjhaert was cramped. His wings didn’t spread out. His tail was just about missing…

So I went back to Port Townsend and bought two more 36 X 48 panels.

Since this book was a trilogy, I’d use each panel for a book cover…and they’d all connect.


To find out more about Dianne and her writing, visit her blog at Ian’s Realm. To see what her finished cover looked like, check out Deception Peak at Amazon!


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