September 14, 2014 § 1 Comment
The Thailand Burma Flora Fauna project is taking shape! These past few weeks have been packed with carving print blocks, printing and testing prototypes, planning and ordering supplies, and networking. THANK YOU for all of your patience and continued support while I work to get you the best prints possible!
Drawing Giveaway + Connecting on Instagram
This week I am giving away an original drawing to one of my followers on Instagram as a thank-you for reaching more than 1K followers! If you are an instagram user, please feel free to follow my feed and enter for the giveaway. (My username is mike_schultz_paintings).
I am also selling two variations of the same drawing on my Etsy shop– first come, first serve!
The Bagan drawings are directly related to the Thailand Burma Flora Fauna series as they are preliminary illustrations for the additional print I am designing which depicts the moon rising over the Bagan Plain in Bagan, Burma– something I was very fortunate to witness with my own eyes!
Prototypes + Hare Stamp Variations
The initial round of prototypes for the first of two postcard-sized prints is under way. The drawing is first transferred to a linoleum block plate, in reverse, so that when it is carved and printed, the design will be facing the correct direction.
Thank you again for your continued support!
August 30, 2014 § Leave a comment
Today I have a lot of good news to share about the Thailand Burma Flora Fauna printmaking project. I’ll be discussing the updated production timeline, new equipment and supplies, and where we are at in the process.
1. Updated Production Timeline - The original delivery estimate that I gave was August of 2014. Due to a myriad of typical production snags (followed by necessary problem solving), the delivery date for your prints has been pushed back a few weeks.
However, I am happy to say that the end is in sight! We are working around the clock to bring you the best work possible, and this huge project is finally taking shape. THANK YOU for your patience and continued support!
Pictured above, top left to right– Mt Popa and its mountaintop monastery, gardens and boats along the mighty Mekong River in Luang Prabang, Laos.
Pictured above, bottom left to right– a welder at a brass foundry welding together a large Buddha, a tall thin smokestack pouring a black cloud of soot over a shanty town outside of Mandalay, and a mysterious all-young-female road crew building a road by hand with woven baskets of hand broken gravel.
2. Printing Press + New Printmaking Studio – This month I purchased a beautiful little table top printing press (a little workhorse!) and built a printmaking studio in a well-lit space to make your artwork. So far, the press is fantastic, and it has been a joy getting it dialed in.
3. Professional Training - I am being trained by a skilled local printmaker for whom I have immense respect. He is helping me to dial in my process to make the best pieces possible with my tools. (I’ll share more on him and his work in an upcoming post.)
4. Council From Other Artists - The past few weeks I have received a lot of help from some incredible artists and friends. They’ve patiently considered my questions and have been dishing out valuable advice on printing processes and tools. Endless gratitude to artists Jack Baumgartner, Keegan Wenkman, Vladimir Zimakov, and Andrea Lauren for some foundational printmaking advice! (Their names link to their awesome artwork– have a peep!)
5. Supplies – Heeding the advice of my peers, I have been stocking up on and experimenting with a number of high quality supplies and tools. The printing studio set up and equipment include items like the press and its required felt pads, brayers for rolling out ink, a glass palette and palette knives, wooden tables and rolling carts, shelving for supplies, and more.
The supplies also include a variety of special inks and solvents for printmaking– and just yesterday I received a box of large sheets of fancy cream colored paper from the French Paper Company. It’s a high quality, smooth textured paper with a beautiful color that will lend itself well to this project.
I have also been experimenting with professionally made stamps that will act as the signature seal, or “chop”, as it is called in printmaking (more on those in a future post).
6. Prototypes and Practice – This past week I’ve been working out the details for the two 4 x 6″ postcard-sized prints that some of you will receive as your rewards for backing this project.
This small piece will feature a beautiful flower called the Camellia Kissii, found in Burma, and will be made as a linocut relief print on French paper. Also– if you look closely you can see practice stamps with one of the new hare chop stamp prototypes.
Thank you all so much for your patience and your continued support with this project!
August 3, 2014 § 6 Comments
This has been a busy week full of painting projects, Burma research, summer gardening, and print designs! Today, I’d like to share more images with you from our travels through Upper Burma– truly one of the most unique places I’ve ever been to.
Some photos just work better in black and white. Here is a collection of those images with accompanying descriptions. So much of the designs for the Thailand Burma Flora Fauna project have been influenced by what I saw and felt during my travels in Burma.
I appreciate all of your feedback and your reaching out to me. Thank you all so much for your continued support!
Burma in B/W
Thank you all so much for your continued interest and support of the Thailand Burma Flora Fauna project!
July 26, 2014 § 8 Comments
Portland – In early June I returned to Portland, Oregon where I’ve been busy balancing various projects, steadily working on print designs, and reading up on Burma.
Earlier this week, I met with some extraordinary local printmakers to discuss printing methods, the finer points of paper varieties, and a production timeline. It’s really exciting that the Thailand Burma Flora Fauna project has entered this stage of production.
Thank you all for your continued interest and support with this endeavor!
Works in Progress
Asian Elephant - After struggling with a design which first featured an extinct variety of rhinoceros and then later the Asian Elephant, I finally abandoned it and went back to the drawing board (quite literally) to rework the picture. Finally, the newer image feels like it’s on the right track!
Sun Bear – The design for a print featuring the elusive Sun Bear is nearly complete! For now, here are some detail images.
Additional Print – I’ve also been making drawings of Bagan, Burma in blue colored pencil. This will potentially be the additional print design that some Kickstarter supporters will receive for increasing their pledge during the funding campaign. (It would be printed in black, as a linocut or letterpress.)
Garden Drawings -This summer so far, I have been spending my off-time gardening and growing vegetables. It’s been enjoyable to draw from the garden as well. If you can’t tell, I’m really into sketching with a cheerful blue color these days.
Reverse Culture Shock + the Big Burma Book Report
Reading - Part of the way I’ve been processing my reverse culture shock (it’s a thing!) and reflecting on this recent time spent in SE Asia has been by avidly reading about Burma and its history.
Curiously, it seems that the more I seek to understand about Burma, the less that I actually know. While the history of any single subject is bound to be complex, for me the shaping of present day Myanmar, seemingly the result of an endlessly labyrinthine trajectory of events, is particularly captivating.
Books – For those of you who would like to broaden your understanding of Burma, I highly recommend reading the books of Emma Larkin (the former pen name of author Sarah Rooney). This spring and summer I read Finding George Orwell in Burma and No Bad News for the King– both fascinating and well written documents.
Upon returning to Portland, I reread Burma Chronicles, by Guy Delisle and Quartered Safe Out Here, a WW2 memoir by a Scottish solider named George MacDonald Fraser. Reading Quartered Safe Out Here was a bit too much like eating lunch at the local V.F.W. with my grandfather in the early 1980’s. I also attempted to read some much hyped fiction, The Piano Tuner, but it just wasn’t for me.
Currently, I’m reading 30 Heritage Buildings of Yangon, by Sarah Rooney (Emma Larkin’s real name). What I love about this book is that it is a positive and crystal-clear presentation of the current state of heritage architecture in Burma’s former capital city of Yagon.
It offers not only a concise history 30 unique buildings, but also details the potential of these structures available for restoration and renovation. Any one of them could join the ranks of the Strand Hotel, a Yangon landmark– that is, if they are not torn down to make way for newer construction. Follow this link to watch a video of The Strand Hotel.
Also, I am currently reading two 100+ year old books authored by V.C. Scott O’Conner. Those books are The Silken East (1904) and another called Mandalay, and Other Cities of the Past in Burma (1908).
The lens through which V.C. Scott O’Conner wrote is now outdated, but none-the-less his books are filled with his fascinating photographs and oral histories that he learned while holding government appointments in Burma in the 1890s.
On deck, I just found a nice hardcover of From the Land of Green Ghosts by Pascal Khoo Thwe, and am searching for a used copy of No Time for Dreams by San San Tin, which is proving a little more difficult to locate for a good price.
Thank you all for your continued support of this project! I’m excited to have entered this next stage of production and will keep you updated on the progress as it unfolds.
May 27, 2014 § 2 Comments
Thank you to everyone who reached out to me this past week after the Thai military ousted the government in a surprise coup d’etat. For now, all television and radio stations are down (excepting military run channels), there is a nighttime curfew from 10pm-5am, and small street scuffles continue in Bangkok. We shall see what unfolds, but whatever happens next, I hope it is what is best for Thailand.
Family Visit + Chiang Mai
Prints – It’s been a busy few weeks! Recently, I moved to Chiang Mai, the second largest city in Thailand, to hunker down and focus on the final print designs for the Flora Fauna project. The work is going really well, and I am currently figuring my way through a particularly tricky drawing depicting the Asian Elephant. Once it is resolved, I’ll be sure to share that image with you!
Family - My parents came for a visit and we had a great time touring the country together. It was an important trip so that they will have an understanding of where I have been. Someday we’ll laugh about when they forgot their passports in Mae Sot, and we only realized it on a bus stopped at a military checkpoint leaving town. It is possible they did this just for a little excitement.
Flora – During our travels, we got to see an array of fascinating plants and animals. As usual, I took a lot of photographs- some of which have already proven to be important visual aides for the remaining print designs.
What Comes Next
In one week I’m headed to Bangkok to fly out to Portland, OR. I cannot believe how fast my time here has gone! So far, this has been a fulfilling and fruitful experience, and I am excited about the next stage of the project.
Back in Portland, I’ll be finishing up the final designs, and preparing the images for the next step. I’ve already been in talks with some dynamic, professional printmakers about the best way to see this project to completion.
THANK YOU again for your continued support with my project! Here are a few photographs from recent travels with my family.
The Golden Buddha at Wat Traimit (aka The Temple of the Golden Buddha) in Bangkok, is said to be the largest solid gold statue in the world (3.9 meters tall, and weighs 5.5 tons). It boasts a fascinating history, and was believed to have been made during the 13-14 century in Sukhothai, the ancient capital of Siam.
At some point before the Burmese armies invaded and destroyed the Kingdom of Ayutthaya in 1767*, the golden Buddha was covered in a thick layer of plaster and mosaic glass and therefore hidden in plain sight from the invading army. Thought to be a large statue of little value, it was left untouched in the ruins of Ayutthaya and remained lost for nearly 200 years until it was being moved to a new temple in Bangkok in 1954. While it was being moved the deceptively heavy statue broke the ropes that were being used to hoist it, revealing its true nature underneath the plaster.
*An interesting side note that I learned is that much of northern Thailand, including the city of Chiang Mai, once belonged to Burma. Also, during the invading Burmese army’s retreat in 1767 they marched through the previous incarnation Mae Sot, now located on the Thai-Burma border. The question remains: did they stop at Canadian Dave’s restaurant?
Also, I was told by a Thai friend that ancient Thailand used to boast an abundance of gold, much of which was looted by the invading Burmese Army. The gold cache was then taken back to Burma only to be liberated by the Colonial British while Burma was part of the British Raj or British India.
One of the groups I taught drawing workshops with in Mae Sot is Kick-Start ART. I was happy to see they are closing in on their recent fundraising endeavors. The people who run Kick-Start ART are incredible, enthusiastic, and motivated group. They did everything they could to make my involvement as a volunteer teacher a positive experience.
Check out their fantastic video to get a glimpse of what they provide and the situation that many of the migrant Burmese students are coming from. The teachers in the video were some of my favorite students, and were such a joy to work with!
Thank you for your support!
May 12, 2014 § 9 Comments
The fourth design for the Thailand Burma Flora Fauna series is complete! Today, I’d like to talk about the process behind the making-of this image, as well as share some photographs from Inle Lake, where the scene is set.
The Print – This print design features the Great Eastern Egret flying over Inle Lake (pronounced in-lay), located in Upper Burma. It is the last print to focus on a flying creature as a main character, and I’m already busy at work on the final four designs that star some pretty stellar and unique mammals.
The Characters – Inspired directly by my own experience, this design was cobbled together from my sketches, photographs, and memories of Inle Lake. The elements include a fisherman on his wooden boat, smoke rising from a burning fire high upon the mountain (upper left), fog and mist rolling between the mountains, a flock of egrets in the sky, fisherman and farmers’ houses on stilts among the floating gardens of Inle Lake, and a mountaintop monastery.
Why an egret? – While varieties of egrets can be a common sight in the US (often seen along the coastlines of Oregon and California) I was struck by the elegance and majesty of these birds against the idyllic backdrop of Inle Lake. It’s no wonder herons have been a staple character in the canon of Japanese printmaking… The sight made an impression on me, and I felt that it was something that I wanted to remember and honor.
Egrets and Herons, Storks and Cranes – What’s the difference? – From what I have read, egrets are essentially a type of heron, but are in a different family from cranes and storks. They are smaller, more svelte, and fly with their heads in a “S” shape, rather than straight outwards like a crane. Egrets were once nearly hunted to extinction for their beautiful plumes, but the species has made a comeback.
Hiroshige – This design was surprisingly challenging. I had hoped for a simple image of an egret set against light, cascading hills. However, it just wasn’t quite striking enough from across the room. So, I made upwards of forty (yes, forty) variations of this design to get it to feel just right, and finally settled on a dusk / dawn image with the hills in silhouette.
While I was working out the kinks I looked to Hiroshige, an Edo period Japanese printmaker, to help point the way. I have always loved his prints, but after intensely studying his landscapes I have a newfound respect for his work.
Thank you! – Thank you for reading and for your continued support with this project!
April 28, 2014 § 5 Comments
The third design for the Thailand Burma Flora Fauna series is complete! My hope was that it could be a combination of Edo Period printmaker Hokusai, the busy children’s books of Richard Scarry, and a 1980’s Aquatic Wildlife Poster. (You remember the kind– filled to the brim with whales, coral and every kind of tropical fish imaginable…)
Birds – The three main characters of this print design are the birds (from left to right): the Green Tailed Sunbird, the Blue Winged Leafbird, and the Sapphire Flycatcher.
Insects – Other creatures include five varieties of moths and butterflies, including the Hummingbird Hawk Moth (located at the top, middle) and the angular-shaped Geometer Moth (located on the far right). Also shown are the Asiatic Honeybee (Apis Cerena), an Asian Ladybird Beetle (SE Asia’s variety of ladybug), a Rhinoceros Beetle (children here like to catch these and keep as pets), plus a small tropical gecko.
Trees – The Bodhi (pictured on the right with its heart shaped leaves and long narrative history) and on the left a variety of flowering Plumeria which I found and photographed in Bagan, Burma.
The variety of flowering tree that I found in Bagan had the same leaf and trunk structure as Plumeria, but the flowers were softer, resembling Hibiscus.
Plumeria is actually native to Central and South America, but it has long since been naturalized to SE Asia. Across Asian folklore Plumeria is often associated with ghosts, vampires, and cemeteries, but in India garlands of its flowers are exchanged during wedding vows, and in Thailand and Burma it is often found at Temples. Also, the Hummingbird Hawk Moth (aka Sphinx Moth) is attracted to the Plumeria’s nighttime fragrance and helps to pollinate it.
Studies for the Design
Once this image started to get visually busy I decided the only way it could work would be to make it as bustling as possible, and by doing so find a balance. Pictured below are some sketchbook drawings working out the composition.
The Museum of World Insects and Natural Wonders
Today I visited the Museum of World Insects and Natural Wonders in Chiang Mai, Thailand. It was incredible, and I was fortunate enough to meet one of the founders of the museum, Mrs. Rampa Rattanarithikul.
She is Thailand’s leading expert on insects. Since the 1950’s she and her husband have dedicated their lives to insects, and specifically, the mosquito, in an effort to understand and eradicate malaria. They have researched insects all around the world, and spent years working for the Smithsonian in Washington DC. We had a very pleasant conversation about her life and work and, of course, insects.
Dr. Rampa asked about my work- so I shared about my print project and showed her some of the designs. She then offered that I could come back to do some drawing from life in the museum, which I will happily be doing that later this week. All of the insect photos shown here are from today’s visit.
Thank you again for all of your support with my project!