We have at last reached the end of one quest and have determined the identity of this piece, Autumn Gold, for which we have been searching since May:
The work is by Ursula Vernon; the owner of Amthrax's Lair was able to offer us this tip, and we have since contacted Ursula and confirmed it. You can visit Ursula Vernon's site, Metal and Magic, to see more of her work:
Ursula Vernon is a freelance illustrator in the American South. When contacted about Autumn Gold, she remembered the piece with delight - it is a very old piece - and told us that she still has the tube of gold paint used to set the dragon infant on its leaf: "you never use that much gold." Her work ranges from the eerily beautiful to the decidedly odd, and you have probably come across some of it before. She has a knack for evoking wonder, though not always comfortable wonder:
Portrait of the Artist with a Crow in her Ribcage
(Think John Donne: "Go and catch a falling star/Get with child a mandrake root...")
Woman with Bird Skull
Catch more of Ursula Vernon's work at her site. Her enthusiasm and vivacity for both art and life are terribly contagious ("Divorced, moved, moved back, kicked down, knocked around--but I'm ALIVE! And being an artist, being alive means that there's art!"), and as an artist she is relentlessly prolific. You can find dozens of intriguing works at her site, and somewhere over 600 if you look her up on deviantart (as ursulav). Well worth exploring her work. Those lines of text inscribed into the self-portrait, together with the whiteness of the crow, have me longing to meditate at length on that particular piece....