Burma Bound and the Mystical Bhutan Glory – Process!

February 26, 2014 § 5 Comments

The first contender for the Thailand Burma Flora Fauna print series is complete! Today, I’d like to share some of my process with you, give a brief update on student workshops, and let you know about my upcoming travel plans into inner Burma and Laos at the end of this week. Wifi in Burma is rare, so the next update will be in late March upon my return to Mae Sot.

The Mystical Bhutan Glory and Poppy

The Mystical Bhutan Glory and Poppy Flower, Digital, 2014

The Mystical Bhutan Glory (what a name!) was a fascinating creature to research. This swallowtail butterfly was recorded in the 1920’s at 9000 ft in the Himalayas. It is rare due to over-collecting and the destruction of its habitat and is now considered to be endangered (though the numbers are unclear). Large for a butterfly, it can measure up to 11cm (4.3in).

As a defense the Bhutan Glory feeds upon the poisonous Indian birthwort plant. It absorbs the poison, which predators can sense and then know to avoid. I thought it was appropriate to pair it with the poppy flower, which has its own complicated history with Thailand and Burma.

I am experimenting with different chops (traditional signature stamps) and am considering including gold leaf from Burma as an addition to the signature (as seen in the image, above).

Composition sketches for of the Bhutan glory butterfly with flowers.

Composition sketches of the Bhutan glory butterfly with flowers.

Process – My process is about expansion and contraction. That is, first being completely wide open and allowing myself the space to summon and sift ideas. This is followed by a deliberate process of honing in on the strongest ones. Once I have settled on an image I work it (and rework it) until it feel right to my eyes.

Drawing sketches of the Bhutan glory.

Drawing sketches of the Bhutan glory.

 Wide open: In the beginning of a project I fill sketchbooks with loose sketches called thumbnails drawings, named so for their small size. I am a firm believer in thumbnail drawings-- if a composition does not work well at an inch by an inch, why would it work on a large scale?

Wide open: thumbnail drawings.

In the beginning of a project I fill sketchbooks with loose sketches called thumbnails drawings, named so for their small size. I am a firm believer in drawing thumbnails– if a composition does not work well at an inch by an inch, why would it look good on a large scale?

Thumbnail drawings for the Thailand Burma Flora Fauna print series.

Thumbnail drawings for the Thailand Burma Flora Fauna print series.

The expansive first stage of my process is non-judgmental and loose. Later, I hone in on the better ideas.

The expansive first stage of my process is non-judgmental and loose.

Once I have chosen the composition I draw the image digitally directly into photoshop using a tablet and pen tool for my computer. For me this is a great way to work as I am able to then quickly alter the image in innumerable ways and try out any idea without wasting time.

Redrawing the image digitally.

Once I have chosen the composition I draw the image digitally (directly into photoshop) using a tablet and pen tool for my computer. For me, this is a great way to work as I am able to experiment while using the most of my time and energy. Once I am satisfied with the image, I can redraw and refine it on paper.

The Saturday class with younger students went great!

The Kick-Start Art Saturday class with younger students from a local migrant school.

Student Workshops – The workshops have been going really well. They’re enjoyable to teach and sometimes challenging when true language barriers surface, but overall, they feel like a productive sharing of knowledge. For me, the teacher training has felt the most fruitful so far, as all of these young artists have the desire to teach and pass on what they learn to their younger peers.

It is so hard to choose images to share as there are so many good ones. Here are a few for now.

Working with younger students can be a lot of fun as they have less inhibitions.

Working with younger students at Kick-Start Art is important as most do not have regular access to any art education or drawing classes. Exposure to new modes of thought can be really valuable to the right student.

Student making a batik painting at the Puzzlbox using a copper tool which slowly drips out hot wax onto the stretched cotton canvas.

Student making a batik painting at the Puzzlbox using a copper tool which slowly drips out hot wax onto the stretched cotton canvas.

A younger student and his bird drawing.

A younger student and his drawing of flora and fauna.

Student looking at a book of prints by renowned Japanese printmaker Hokusai.

Student looking at a book of prints by renowned Japanese printmaker Hokusai.

Doing the teacher / staff training was the best! Pictured: KK, Jess, PD, JK, and Felix.

The teacher/staff training with Kick-Start Art was the best! Pictured from left: KK, Jess, PD, JK, and Felix.

John Kai and his ink drawing during the red panda design session.

Student John Kai and his ink drawing during the red panda design session.

Travel – My lovely traveling companion and I are about to head into inner Burma, and then onto Laos. I can’t wait to see it with my own eyes. In anticipation, I’ve been reading Emma Larkin’s Finding George Orwell in Burma, a book I highly recommend to anyone who is interested in the history of the country.

Reading Emma Larkin’s beautiful and insightful book just days before my trip into inner Burma feels a bit like reading ghost stories before going to a haunted house.

Reading Emma Larkin’s beautiful and insightful book just days before my trip into inner Burma feels a bit like reading ghost stories before going to a haunted house.

Wait, where are you again? Good question! Here's a map of where I am and a few upcoming travel destinations.

“Wait, where are you again?” Good question! Here’s a map with a few upcoming travel destinations. Map source: BBC’s Wild Burma.

Among other locations in Burma, we’ll be headed to Mandalay, Bagan, and Inle Lake. Then off to Vientiane and Luang Prabang in Laos. It is my hope and goal to absorb as much as I can visually and to collect images that can be used in this print series as well as in my other work.

My next update will be posted after my return to Mae Sot in late March. Thank you all for your continued support!

*Special thanks to my old friend David who sent me a mellow, uplifting music compilation that carried me through the end of this first drawing. It was much needed and much appreciated!*

View of a Buddhist Monastery, an old Thai house, a burned out and abandoned movie theater, and ever present telephone wires.

Mae Sot: view of a Buddhist Monastery, an old Thai house, a burned out and abandoned movie theater, and ever present telephone wires.

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§ 5 Responses to Burma Bound and the Mystical Bhutan Glory – Process!

  • jackbaumgartner says:

    A super-rich post, Mikey! Your process is fun to see and learn about, and of course I think the shots of all those thumbnail sheets are great. Those students are really turning out excellent work, as well, it would seem. Your direction and parameters must be effective, and the students eager, to make such focused drawings. It must be fun to see so many individual voices unfold in these drawings. That middle drawing in the teacher/ staff photo of the bird against the moon is really something. Thank you so much for these weekly windows into your journey.

    • Mike Schultz Paintings says:

      Thank you for your kind comment, my friend. Try as I might to keep it short, too much keeps happening. Already I have to omit such a large volume of images. I need to find a good, non-overwhelming way to share them at the end of the project.

      The students are great. Most are eager to learn and as we both know many possess the natural skill and ability of mark making that we we tend to forget by the time we are adults. So, I basically set them up with a goal, let them go at it, and then just check in and give guidance when it seems appropriate and helpful. I try not to interfere too much- but just enough, if you know what I mean. Thank you for your support and words! Thought you might like those thumbnails. Thanks again for the notes on this first image. That was extremely helpful.

  • Lovely blog, thank you. Enjoy your travels. I’m waiting for a visa to travel to and around Pakistan in April, with my sketch book and printmaking tools of course :)

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