I had a dragon plate and a phoenix dress, so why not combine them? In Chinese tradition, the dragon is the emperor and the phoenix the empress, so they are a natural choice to pair.
The centerpiece of this still life is the highly decorated plate. I did consider whether I really wanted to commit to replicating the drawing as much as possible or not, out of fear that it would stick out too much if it was very detailed with how the other designs throughout the piece are less so. The challenge I did not anticipate is that the position of the light actually eliminated all of the shading on the plate, so I personally dramatized the lights and shadows in order to have it look like the same painting as everything else.