Linocut Prototypes + Bagan Drawing Giveaway!

September 14, 2014 § 2 Comments

Linocut prototypes featuring the Camellia Kissii drying on my studio wall.

Linocut prototypes featuring the Camellia Kissii drying on my studio wall.

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!

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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!

Drawing giveaway on instagram depicting the Bagan Plain featured in an upcoming print for the TBFF series.

Drawing giveaway on instagram depicting the Bagan Plain featured in an upcoming print for the TBFF series.

Sneak Peek! (Work in Progress) This is an unfinished print design that will feature the Bagan, Burma landscape.

Sneak Peek! This is a print design (work in progress) that will feature a landscape based on Bagan, Burma.

Detail from my Burma travel sketchbook with notes and thumbnail drawings of things I wanted to remember.

Detail from my Burma travel sketchbook with notes and thumbnail drawings of things I wanted to remember.

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.

Transferring a ink and gouache drawing of the Camellia Kissii flower to a lino block (in reverse) before carving.

Transferring an ink and gouache drawing of the Camellia Kissii flower to a lino block (in reverse) before carving.

Carving the linoleum block late into the night (no mistakes, please! There is no undoing a cut).

Carefully carving the linoleum block late into the night.  (No mistakes, please! There is no undoing a carved line).

Prototypes! Working out the lines and stamp designs for the first of the smaller prints to go out.

Prototypes! Working out the lines and stamp designs for the first of the smaller prints to go out. This one is so close!

Documenting Burma travel drawings with help from studio assistant and shadow, Gus!

Documenting my Burma travel sketchbook drawings with help from studio assistant and constant shadow, Gus!

Thank you again for your continued support!

Updated Production Timeline and Printing Press!

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.

Detail of the Golden Cat design - sneak peek!

Detail of the Golden Cat design – sneak peek!

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! 

I've been looking to my Burma travel sketchbooks a lot lately while making the final designs. What a potent experience it was traveling through Upper Burma.

I’ve been looking to my Burma travel sketchbooks a lot while drawing the final designs. What a potent experience it was traveling through Upper Burma.

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.

New treehouse printmaking studio? Check!

New treehouse printmaking studio? Check!

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.

This little direct drive workhorse is a small behemoth weighing in at 70 pounds. It's got two solid steel rollers and a steel bed. I love it!

This direct drive workhorse is a little behemoth weighing in at 70 pounds. It’s got two solid steel rollers and a steel bed. So far, I love it!

Studio mission control with my immense and ever shifting to-do list and a small self portrait silhouette. It's a good thing I picked up some tips on lean manufacturing and organization from my time working with Grovemade, here in Portland, OR!

Studio mission control with my immense and ever shifting to-do list (and a small silhouetted self portrait). It’s a good thing I learned about lean manufacturing and organization from working with Grovemade, here in Portland, OR! Using lean production techniques has helped to keep this to-do list wrangled.

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.) 

Experimenting with monotype, a process of making a one of a kind print. Shown here I am drawing with loose blue printmaking ink directly onto a copper plate.

Experimenting with monotype, a process of making a one of a kind print. Shown here I am drawing with loose blue printmaking ink directly onto a copper plate.

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!)

Hand drawing my hare chop on a 2009 linocut.

Hand drawing a variation of my hare chop on a 2009 linocut.

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.

Shipments arrived! A bulk order of large sheets of fancy paper from the French Paper Company and a variety of printing inks from great companies like Portland's own Gamblin.

Shipments arrived! A bulk order of large sheets of fancy paper from the French Paper Company, and a variety of printing inks from great companies like Portland’s own Gamblin.

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.

Pictured center: A life sized Japanese sumi ink and gouache prototype of one of the 4 x 6" sized prints. This one features a beautiful flower called the Camellia Kissii, found in Burma, and will be made as a linocut relief print.

Pictured center: A life sized (Japanese sumi ink and gouache) hand drawn prototype of one of the 4 x 6″ prints. 

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.

Concept drawing for the additional print in the series. It will act as a "title page" of sorts and feature a Bagan, Burma landscape in the center.

Making concept drawings for the additional print in the series. This piece will act as a “title page” of sorts and feature a Bagan, Burma landscape in the center.

Thank you all so much for your patience and your continued support with this project!

Burma in Black and White – Part 1

August 3, 2014 § 6 Comments

Sunset in Bagan, Burma.

Sunset in Bagan, Burma.

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

Men driving an old diesel tractor through the center of Nyaung Shwe, on Inle Lake. It is not uncommon to see vehicles from another era still in use everyday in Burma.

Men driving an old diesel tractor through the center of Nyaung Shwe, on Inle Lake. It is not uncommon to see vehicles from another era still in everyday use in Burma.

Dusk view of Mandalay from Mandalay Hill. You can see the shining Irrawaddy River on the horizon. The river is the main artery that runs through Burma all the way to the Andaman sea.

Dusk view of Mandalay from Mandalay Hill. You can see the Irrawaddy River shining on the horizon. It’s the main artery that runs through Burma all the way to the Andaman sea.

Beth and I on the canal in Nyaung Shwe, on Inle Lake, Burma.

Beth and I on the canal in Nyaung Shwe, on Inle Lake, Burma.

Street snap of men on motorbikes at sunset, Mandalay.

Street snap of men on motorbikes at sunset, Mandalay.

There is a small mountain town on Mt. Popa, a forested volcano topped with a monastery, that is overrun by tribes of naughty monkeys. Our guide told us, “The monkeys here... they can be quite rude.”

There is a small mountain town on Mt. Popa, a forested volcano topped with a monastery, that is overrun by tribes of naughty monkeys. Our guide said, “The monkeys here… they can be quite rude.” I concur. Many residents walked with sticks to fend them off.

Street snap of a woman on a bicycle, Mandalay, Burma.

Street snap of a woman on a bicycle, Mandalay, Burma.

Morning on the Bagan plain-- a valley of ancient ruins in Bagan, Burma.

Morning on the Bagan plain– a valley of ancient ruins in Bagan, Burma.

Novice monks in a temple in Bagan, Burma.

Novice monks in a temple in Bagan, Burma.

Filling up at the gas station on Inle Lake. It was comprised of a kid on a wooden dock with a bucket of gas and a hose.

Filling up at the gas station on Inle Lake, which was comprised of a young boy on a wooden dock with a bucket of gas and a hose. Why not?

Mandalay in the morning from the Smart Hotel.

View of Mandalay in the morning from the Smart Hotel.

In a golden temple in Mandalay, a young girl is wearing thanaka, a yellow-white-gold colored cream that many Burmese folks wear on their face. Thanaka is part sun screen and part cosmetic product, and is made from the ground bark, wood, or roots of various local trees.

In a golden temple in Mandalay, a young girl is wearing thanaka, a yellow-white-gold colored cream that many Burmese folks wear on their faces. Thanaka is part sun screen and part cosmetic product. It is made from the ground bark, wood, or roots of various trees.

Street snap of women hanging out at the morning market in a small village on Inle Lake.

Some ladies hanging out and chatting at the morning market in a small village on Inle Lake. Note: each of them is wearing thanaka on their cheeks.

Thank you all so much for your continued interest and support of the Thailand Burma Flora Fauna project!

Portland: Drawing, Books, and Printmaking!

July 26, 2014 § 8 Comments

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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!

Supermoon rising over Portland, Oregon - June 2014.

Supermoon rising over Portland, Oregon – June 2014.

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! 

Sketchbook drawing of an Asian Elephant carrying a branch - getting closer with this one!

Sketchbook drawing of an Asian Elephant carrying a branch – getting closer!

Trying to understand the muscle movement of an elephant walking in my sketchbook.

Drawing the muscle movement of elephants + thumbnail compositions in my sketchbook.

Work in Progress - an older version of the print featuring an Asian Elephant.

Work in Progress (WIP) – an older version of the print featuring an Asian Elephant.

Sun Bear – The design for a print featuring the elusive Sun Bear is nearly complete! For now, here are some detail images.

The sloping head of the elusive Sun Bear with a Burmese landscape behind it.

WIP – The sloping head of the elusive Sun Bear with a Burmese landscape.

Preliminary sketchbook drawing for the Sun Bear print.

Preliminary sketchbook drawing for the Sun Bear print.

This print will feature a hilltop monastery loosely based on Mt. Popa, a favorite place we visited in Upper Burma in the Spring.

WIP – This print features a hilltop monastery based on Mt. Popa, a favorite place we visited in Upper Burma.

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.)

Working on imagery for the additional print for those who increased their pledge.

Working on imagery for the additional print for those who increased their pledge.

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.

Sketching basil, chard, and carrot tops in my garden.  July, 2014.

Sketching basil, chard, and carrot tops in my garden. July, 2014.

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.

No Bad News For the King, by Emma Larkin, details the affects of Cyclone Nargis, which claimed 138,000 lives.

No Bad News For the King, by Emma Larkin, details the affects of Cyclone Nargis, which claimed 138,000 lives.

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.

30 Heritage Buildings of Yangon, by Sarah Rooney (aka Emma Larkin) is a fascinating read so far!

30 Heritage Buildings of Yangon, by Sarah Rooney (aka Emma Larkin) is a great read so far!

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).

I was lucky to find an original copy of Mandalay, and Other Cities of the Past in Burma, which boasts beautiful photos like this one taken by the author.

I was lucky to find an original 1908 copy of Mandalay, and Other Cities of the Past in Burma (1908), which boasts beautiful photos like this one taken by the author.

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.

V.C. Scott O’Conner's The Silken East (1904, reprinted 1993) has Burma oil paintings by J.R. Middleton.

V.C. Scott O’Conner’s The Silken East (1904 – reprinted 1993) with paintings by J.R. Middleton.

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

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.

What’s a Few Earthquakes and a Coup d’etat?

May 27, 2014 § 2 Comments

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A tuk tuk near the Grand Palace in Bangkok.

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.

The lush gardens at the Jim Thompson House. He was Thailand’s silk baron who mysteriously disappeared into the Malaysian jungle in1967.

The lush gardens at the Jim Thompson House. He was Thailand’s silk baron who mysteriously disappeared into the Malaysian jungle in 1967.

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. 

My parents in Yaowarat, Bangkok’s Chinatown.

My parents in Yaowarat, Bangkok’s Chinatown.

The countryside outside of Chiang Mai.

The countryside outside of Chiang Mai.

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.

Early flora fauna painting in the extensive murals at Wat Phra Kaew, the temple located at the Grand Palace in Bangkok.

Early flora fauna painting in the extensive murals at Wat Phra Kaew, the temple located at the Grand Palace in Bangkok.

Bananas and flowers in Mae Sa National park, outside of Chiang Mai.

Bananas and flowers in Mae Sa National park, outside of Chiang Mai.

Expansive greenhouses at the Queen Sirikit Botanical Garden, outside of Chiang Mai.

Expansive greenhouses at the Queen Sirikit Botanical Garden, outside of Chiang Mai.

Palms and wires at near Wat Phra Singh in Chiang Mai.

Palms and wires at near Wat Phra Singh in Chiang Mai.

Farmland outside of Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Farmland outside of Chiang Mai, Thailand.

The massive Golden Buddha at Wat Traimit.

The massive Golden Buddha at Wat Traimit.

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.

This photo of the backside of The Golden Buddha illustrates the amazing seams where the nine interlocking pieces that make the Buddha perfectly join together.

This photo of the backside of the Golden Buddha illustrates the seams where the nine perfectly interlocking pieces that make the statue fit together.

Flowers in Mae Sa National park, outside of Chiang Mai.

Flowers in Mae Sa National park, outside of Chiang Mai.

During a brief, final workshop student SKP drew a cute “lady lion”. The assignment was to focus on mammals in movement, and I loved this drawing in particular.

During a brief, final workshop student SKP drew a cute “lady lion”. The assignment was to focus on mammals in movement, and I loved this drawing in particular.

Thailand is known for many things, but not necessarily for the removal of outdated wires. They’re like the vines of the urban jungle, right?

Thailand is known for many things, but not for the removal of defunct wires.

My eyes prefer flowering trees in Mae Sa National Forest to the wires in the city.

Flowering trees in Mae Sa National Forest.

Student PD working on his piece during a teacher training workshop at Mae Sot's Kick-Start ART program.

Student PD working on his piece during a flora fauna workshop at Kick-Start ART.

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!

A rare glimpse of parents in the wild.

A rare glimpse of parents in the wild.

Thank you for your support!

Design No. 4 – The Great Eastern Egret Over Inle Lake

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 Great Eastern Egret Over Inle Lake, 2014

The Great Eastern Egret Over Inle Lake, 2014

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.

Working on a preparatory drawing for an earlier version of the design featuring light, cascading hills.

Working on a preparatory drawing for an earlier version featuring light, cascading hills.

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.

Great Eastern Egret, sunset. Inle Lake, Burma

Great Eastern Egret, sunset. Inle Lake, Burma

An fisherman pulls in his net from Inle Lake.

A fisherman pulls in his net from Inle Lake.

Everywhere we went in Burma was the ever present burning of fields, forests, grasslands, and brush debris. The air quality all around SE Asia is very poor because of this, and the unregulated pollution from vehicles and cities.

Everywhere we went in Burma was the ever present burning of fields, forests, grasslands, and brush debris. Because of this and the unregulated pollution from vehicles and cities, the air quality across SE Asia is very poor.

Asleep in a boat? No- just a bright sun shining off the water! The two men behind me have a boat filled to the brim with a load of mud they had dredged up from a canal off the lake. The canals between the floating gardens must be manually cleared out to keep up the depth and water flow.

Asleep? No, just a bright sun. The two men behind me have a boat filled with mud dredged up from the canal- an essential chore to keep the waterways around the lake flowing.

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.

Egret, Inle Lake.

An egret flying with its long neck and head tucked into an “S” shape.

The famous floating gardens of Inle lake are literally pieces of floating earth and vegetation staked into the shallow lake bed with tall bamboo poles.

The famous floating gardens of Inle lake are literally pieces of floating earth and vegetation staked into the shallow lake bed with tall bamboo poles.

Entire villages and towns exist here directly about the water. You can get much more “on the lake” than this.

Entire villages directly above the water. You can’t get much more “on the lake” than this.

Fisherman at dusk on Inle Lake.

Fisherman at dusk on Inle Lake.

What looks like my own personal nightmare is another man’s pleasure ride. Local Burmese folks are feeding a frenzied flock of seagulls to pass the time on a journey up the lake. If you look closely you can see the piece of food he is tossing up to the gull.

Seagull attack or pleasure ride? Local Burmese folks feeding a frenzied flock of seagulls to pass the time. Look closely and you can see the food being tossed up to the gull.

Beth as we pass a small village on the lake.

A photo of Beth as we pass a small village.

An egret cruising for food at dusk.

An egret looking for dinner at dusk.

Our longboat driver and guide on the day he and I were stuck out on the lake with engine trouble. Sorry, Mother Earth! This is what zero emissions-regulations looks like.

Our longboat driver on the day he and I were stuck out on the lake with engine trouble. Sorry, Mother Earth! This is what zero regulations on engine emissions looks like.

Buddhist pagodas on the lake.

Buddhist pagodas on the lake.

Passing local commuters on the lake.

Passing local commuters on the lake. (Nice photo, Beth!)

At In Dein monastery, there are many pagodas with thousands of wind chimes. The sound is quite lovely. I hiked up here alone and found the temple empty except a few dogs, a couple of men restoring crumbling bricks.

At In Dein monastery, there are many pagodas topped with thousands of wind chimes- the sound of which is quite lovely. I hiked up there alone and found the temple empty except for a few stray dogs and two men restoring crumbling bricks.

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.

During a workshop in Mae Sot, students JK and PD pour over books over the Japanese master printmakers Hiroshige and Hokusai before drawing thumbnail sketches for their own designs.

During a workshop in Mae Sot, students JK and PD pore over books of master printmakers Hiroshige and Hokusai before drawing sketches for their own designs.

Thank you! – Thank you for reading and for your continued support with this project!

Design No. 3 – Hokusai + Richard Scarry + 1980’s Aquatic Wildlife Poster

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…)

The third print in the series features the Green Tailed Sunbird, the Blue Winged Leafbird, and the Sapphire Flycatcher.

Thailand Burma Flora Fauna print design No. 3.

The Cast

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.

This is a sketchbook drawing of a similar Plumeria tree (Frangipani) that I saw in Luang Prabang, Laos.

This is a sketchbook drawing of Plumeria (Frangipani) that I saw in Luang Prabang, Laos.

Plumeria

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.

Sketch of the Sapphire Flycatcher, upper left.

Sketch of the Sapphire Flycatcher, upper left.

Sketchbook page showing the original drawing for the design.

Sketchbook page showing the original drawing for the design.

A sketchbook page with thumbnail drawings trying out different compositions for the design.

A sketchbook page with thumbnail drawings trying out different compositions for the design.

Incredible specimens at the Museum of World Insects and Natural Wonders in Chiang Mai.

Incredible specimens at the Museum of World Insects and Natural Wonders in Chiang Mai.

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.

Beautiful butterfly specimens at the museum in Chiang Mai.

Beautiful butterfly specimens at the museum in Chiang Mai.

A blue iridescent butterfly at the

A blue iridescent butterfly at the Museum of World Insects.

Geometer moth (bottom left corner) and two moths with skull patterns on the back of the heads.

Geometer moth (bottom left corner) and two moths with skull patterns on their backs.

Thank you again for all of your support with my project!

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    I've been enjoying making monotype prints using a copper plate! 🔥 Monotypes are a one-of-a-kind print onto paper made by painting or drawing directly onto a flat plate. 💛 This is mid-process before I ran the copper plate + paper through the press. 🌞 Fun! The image features Bagan, Burma. 🌸 #monotype Drying garden bounty to send to @baumwerkj. 🌱 German thyme, rosemary, lavender-- and I'm especially excited about how my Thai chili peppers turned out this year! They're hot! 🍎😱 #hotchili #red #nofilter Oil painting of a monkey skull with a paper hat from 2010.🙊💀📜🎩 #stilllife
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