During my trip to Cambodia I couldn't help noticing this great beast they have called the Naga. There are many types of nagas, with various numbers of heads, but I chose to create one with 5 heads for this painting. The naga is a great serpent who stands between this world and the next world, and so is seen a lot as a huge carved stone "railing" going around temples (with the temple being the heavenly realm of course), and also rising above the seated Buddha, as they are his protector. My naga here is not based on an actual historical naga design, but is my own interpretation based on various photos I took while on my trip. To create the design I chose some areas around their heads and faces to lay a bed of raised gesso, which when gilded contrasts with the flat regular gilding of the other layers. When the final piece is buffed with silk, the raised areas are smoother and higher than the flat, giving it a slight 3D effect. You can see photos from my trip by heading over to the Lotus Path mini site.