Back in the Land of Smiles

February 3, 2014 § 4 Comments

Here! – It’s wonderful to be back in sunny Thailand! This past week has been a whirlwind of getting my feet on the ground here in Mae Sot, while my mind and body readjust to the Thai culture, language, time change, and the climate of Southeast Asia.

Spices for sale in the Sunday walking street market, Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Spices for sale in the Sunday walking street market, Chiang Mai, Thailand.

View my neighborhood in the early morning, Mae Sot, Thailand.

Early morning view over my neighborhood in Mae Sot, Thailand.

Project – Last week I began working with the apprentices at the Puzzlebox Art Studio, and have conducted the first drawing / design workshop related to the Thailand Burma Flora Fauna series. The workshop was productive and challenging, and a great beginning to the project.

Sneak Peak! Apprentice Saw Sahn Ley inks in his design.

Sneak Peak! Apprentice Saw Sahn Ley inks in his design.

An apprentice painting in her design using sumi ink and brush.

An apprentice painting in her design using sumi ink and brush.

For the first workshop, I had the apprentices use the work of renowned Japanese artist Hokusai as a reference for their design compositions.

For the first workshop, I had the apprentices use the woodblock prints of renowned Japanese artist Hokusai as a reference for their design compositions.

More Soon! – The next update will include a detailed description and photos of the finished work from that first workshop, but today I wanted to set the scene of what the world looks like where I am currently located.

A view from my guesthouse of Mae Sot at night. 30 second exposure photograph.

Mae Sot at night from my guesthouse – 30 second exposure photograph.

A typical view of the main road in Mae Sot, decorated with a ceiling of yellow flags celebrating the Chinese New Year.

A typical view of a street in Mae Sot, decorated with a ceiling of yellow flags celebrating the Chinese New Year.

The evening light illuminates the smog over Chiang Mai. This photo was taken from a small propellor plane. No filter was used making this photo as the condition of the air quality can be quite poor at times.

The evening light illuminates the smog over Chiang Mai. This photo was taken from a small propeller plane. The air quality here can be poor at times. No filter on this photo!

Thai Culture – The very briefest note on Thai culture: Thailand is known as The Land of Smiles. It is a devout and predominantly Buddhist nation (about 95% Buddhist). Depending on your location and the season the climate can be very hot, and either very wet or dry.  The mosquitos here are a plenty, and the food is amazing and spicy.

Double dragon spirits guard the entrance to Wat Phra Singh (a Buddhist temple) in Chinag Mai.

Double dragons guard the entrance to Wat Phra Singh (Buddhist temple) in Chiang Mai.

Thailand boasts some of the tastiest food on earth. This spicy noodle soup is the stuff!

Thailand boasts some of the tastiest food on earth. Spicy noodle soup and soda water!

Street scene, Mae Sot, Thailand.

Interesting times: Street scene showing Thai protesters waving flags during a parade before the February 2nd election, and migrant Burmese workers in trucks.

Challenges So Far

1) Language – Burmese batik artist Sein Sein Lin and I have begun work on The Rosetta Stone of Art Vocabulary. We made a list of 250 important art related vocabulary words including techniques, tools, styles, media and art movements. (Think of terms like: drawing, charcoal, palette knife, monochromatic, kiln, etc.)

The objective is to have a complete vocabulary list of terms translated into English, Burmese, and Thai. This will enable artists from each culture to more easily communicate whenever there is a language barrier.

2) Assessment – The Puzzlebox Art Studio is in a place of transition. For varying personal reasons many of the Burmese apprentices have had to leave their positions there. I have made an initial assessment of the studio production line as one way I can be of use to the Puzzlebox is to organize the space and to give suggestions on how to streamline the workflow.

3) Personal Studio – Currently, I’m searching for the right workspace in which to set up my art studio here. I am flush with ideas for the Thailand Burma Flora Fauna project and now just need a space so I can get to work!

Detail of a mural I designed that was executed after I last left Mae Sot by my apprentice Jaw Saye. It was so enjoyable seeing this for the first time.

Detail of a mural I designed in 2011 that was executed after I last left Mae Sot. It was painted by my former Puzzlebox apprentice Jaw Saye. So enjoyable seeing this for the first time!

Thank you – Thank you all for your continued support! Please feel free to comment and dialog. I will do my best to answer any questions you might have about the Thailand Burma Flora Fauna project as it unfolds.

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§ 4 Responses to Back in the Land of Smiles

  • jackbaumgartner says:

    It is good to see some picture’s of your present so soon, my friend. Thank you. You have really jumped in head first too, it looks like. Well done. I can’t wait to see more!
    Those dragons are intense.

    • Mike Schultz Paintings says:

      Haha, they really, really are intense. I’m glad you think so too. Like ancient guard dogs. There are a couple down the street I should photograph for you. There is only one way to enter Mae Sot, I think. I just had to surrender to its weirdness immediately and dive in, you know?

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