Thursday, August 25, 2016

Chasing Dragons

-By Donato

Puff the Magic Dragon - animated TV film still   1978

This evening as we discussed what new (or old) films we would be interested in viewing together as a family, the subject of Puff the Magic Dragon came up.  As I browsed through the lyrics and had a listen to the song by Peter, Paul and Mary for the first time in nearly 15 years (a song my wife cannot stand, but I love!), I reflected upon how powerful a simple statement like this song can be as a motivator and mirror to the choices and passions we have in our lives.  In light of a recent award from the Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists I was going to post today about undertaking  challenges in art in order to achieve great goals and recognition.

But what I realized is that the driving force behind much of my critical success was not the sole need to achieve great things (awards, sales, etc), but rather the desire to bring forth and share the passions I have grown with since being a child. Obviously I have enjoyed the recognition and praise that comes with peer awards, but true critical, artistic excellence is founded on the deep desires of expression.  It is from these wellsprings that the perseverance, determination, and sacrifices needed to bring forth bold expressions in our art are found, sustained and nurtured.

The notes to this song and story are fixed deep.  For inside me is that little boy who listened to this song as a child, grew up with it as a young man, and now contemplates it as an aging adult - forever feeling joy at 'frolicks in the autumn mist' and sadness creeping as 'Puff ceased his fearless roar.'

I think of the rollercoaster ride my life and career has been, alternating between the ups and downs of emotions, developments, choices, celebrations, defeats, etc... You cannot select only the high points and live for those.  The journey is unpredictable, unknowing.  What keeps me coming back to the drafting table again and again, is the unending passion and joy in sharing a story I care about.

Chase your Dragons.  Seek them out and continue to play with them, no matter how, no matter where you are at in your career.  For when you put aside your joy of play, the dragon creeps away to silently die...

Beren and Luthien in the Court of Thingol and Melian -  Donato Giancola  -  114" x 60"  Oil on Linen   Chesley Award for Best Unpublished Work 2015

Peter, Paul & Mary 

Puff, The Magic Dragon

Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee,
Little Jackie paper loved that rascal puff,
And brought him strings and sealing wax and other fancy stuff. oh

Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee,
Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee.

Together they would travel on a boat with billowed sail
Jackie kept a lookout perched on puffs gigantic tail,
Noble kings and princes would bow whene'r they came,
Pirate ships would lower their flag when puff roared out his name. oh!

Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee,
Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee.

Dragons live forever but not so little boys
Painted wings and giant strings make way for other toys.
One sad night it happened, Jackie Paper came no more
And Puff that mighty dragon, he ceased his fearless roar.

His head was bent in sorrow, green scales fell like rain,
Puff no longer went to play along the cherry lane.
Without his life-long friend, puff could not be brave,
So puff that mighty dragon sadly slipped into his cave. oh!

Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee,
Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee.

10 comments:

  1. Very interesting post. I think kids will definitely like this post. Thank you for sharing. Refer Essay writing service reviews

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  2. This post feels like what I feel about whatever's inspired me. It's great. But, they're making a new Puff the Magic Dragon movie? The world will never be the same...

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  3. I did not realize how profound this song was until this post. I only ever knew the chorus. Thanks for reflecting on it.

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  4. I did not realize how profound this song was until this post. I only ever knew the chorus. Thanks for reflecting on it.

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  5. The song always depressed me probably because I saw the allegory even while I was that kid. There's a great little on-line film in 4 segments called What Lives Inside which kind of explores a similar story. So worth watching.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dTtH2yxGflE

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  6. I loved and lamented this song, as a child. I understood then what the lyrics signified, and I remember disliking Jackie just a little bit for failing Puff.

    While the lyrics of "Bronte", by Gotye do not allude to the same theme, the video produced for that song does. Worth a look: https://g.co/kgs/cmVOZK

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  7. The song always depressed me probably because I saw the allegory even while I was that kid. There's a great little on-line film in 4 segments called What Lives Inside which kind of explores a similar story. So worth watching.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dTtH2yxGflE

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  8. Thanks Donato. Great to read this when having one of those days of doubt.. Full speed ahead!

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  9. http://honahleevineyard.com/home/4477411

    The Dragon lives in central Virginia!

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  10. That gorgeous painting makes me sweat thinking of doing it at 8x11 inches, your 50 foot long version has put me in a catatonic state. (I came out of it briefly to write this)

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