GIMP, 7-8 hours. I picked originality as the defining trait of the dragon; therefore, the girl is painting it. The word in the back means dragon (simplified Chinese). For dA's Chinese Horoscope contest!
Wow. This is really great, especially since you started here.
When I look at this piece, it appears so magical and out of this world. I love how the background is soft and the girl stands out with defining lines. The Chinese symbol is a nice touch as well.
Very original, I haven't seen many drawings where you are the painting, looking at the girl but are also looking at the painting.
The technique is where I think you need a tad more improvement. While the dragon looks great, it looks a little like a weasel. First, I don't think fur belongs on a dragon, a reptile, so it wouldn't need fur to be warm because it relies on the sun to warm its body (cold-blooded animals don't use fur). It should look more like whiskers, not clumps of fur. Second, the neck should be wider and sturdier. Third, the horns would look better if they were larger. And fourth, the scales should be a little sharper in the outline. I know you were going for faded background, but a little more scale detail would make this so much better.
The girl is amazing, all I can see is that the right side of her face is flat, add a little more light to the shaded side for some roundness and her butt is also too high up her body.
Other than that, this is a fantastic creation, please keep improving, you'll become even more of a fantastic artist!
I want to say that this is really visually striking, and has a lot of potential. The gold and black background is probably my favorite part, and the "dragon" symbol stands out well. It's also a very good and original concept, and like the other commenter I like the big sparkly blue eye ^^
For suggestions I'd like to touch on anatomy and technique, since that's my job here.
So, anatomy. Well, first of all, her hand is just backward The thumb should be on the inside. I've done it myself - I could show you at least two pictures where I drew either a hand or a foot inside out and didn't realize until I was done - but it really stands out since her painting is one of the focal points of the picture. There's also a difficulty with proportions I see. I think that her head, shoulders, and bust all look good, but after that she seems to be squashed. I would move her hips/butt down a good chunk, and perhaps shorten her arms. A good rule of thumb is that the elbow should be even with the bottom of the ribcage (about the smallest part of the waist, maybe a little above) and the fingertips should be in the middle of the thigh. Just doing that helps to keep your bodies and limbs all looking like they're part of a whole.
On a positive anatomical note, her face looks really good. The clean details and bright blue eyes echoing the dragon really work.
For technique, there are two things that stand out. The first is that her hair has managed to look kind of stringy because the strokes are kind of jagged, but I think just using thinner brushes and maybe gentler colors (that white line stands out) would solve that. Second is that the dragon's fur looks like the smudge tool. The smudge tool is evil. Actually it's not evil in moderation, but using the brush tool for the primary coloring and smudging for extra wispiness if you want it would give a more pleasing effect usually.
I really like the coloring of the dress. Is that a DA logo in there? I'm a big fan of all the sparkles in this picture (like the background I already mentioned) and I hope I haven't been discouraging. Keep it up.