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Update: This is the first of what ended up being a series of Chinese folktale calendar repaints.
There’s a Chinese restaurant called House of Chu within walking distance that looked somewhat questionable from the front, but once we finally went in, it ended up pretty tasty. For some reason they were also giving away calendar scrolls. I’ve been looking for interesting things for re-paint projects that wouldn’t involve a nearly-complete re-paint, and this was just the ticket.
I wasn’t entirely sure what to do with it, so as a first step I mixed up a similar yellow to fill in the background. I opted not to fill in the calendar areas entirely, so if you look closely you can see some of the dates along the side, and “San Jose” around the bottom. I have no clue what it said originally in the top left.
The first time I saw this I imagined water flowing down the steps and into the courtyard. Why? Heck if I know. I added it, flowing magically from a spot inside of the building and it looked right. And then I got utterly stuck about what to do next. I knew I wanted to add something in the sky above the whole thing, possibly clouds or cranes. I’d taken a photo of the scroll-in-progress and attempted to use the Brushes iPhone app to sketch out the clouds while on the train to SF one day. After less-than-stellar results, so I ditched that approach.
I decided to dig around and see if there were any stories from Chinese mythology involving water. I found a few promising deities but next to no stories, and none seemed like a good match. But Chinese dragons–ah ha. Those have both the association with water and the weather, and can fly. Dragons it is! I used Photoshop for a test run of the clouds, and the dragon foot. One reference printout and a bit of painting later, and it’s done.
Time off plus a dearth of airline miles recently led us, happily, to Hawaii–the Big Island in particular. We went on a whirlwind tour of it seven & a half years ago for our honeymoon, and have been wanting to go back and spend more time at Volcanoes National Park and pretty much everywhere else on the island. The timing was fortunate, as the week we went was also the Merrie Monarch Festival. The highlight is three days of hula competitions, which attract the best performers from around the islands and the mainland. Tickets are extremely difficult to come by, so each of the nights we picked up takeout and settled in our room to watch it on the local acccess channel, with the chorus of singsong chirping frogs outside for background.
The dancing and costumes were lovely, so I worked in a little sketching while watching. The competition days were as follows: Day 1 was Miss Aloha (singles), Day 2 was ancient hula (group), and Day 3 was modern (group). The ancient hulas all included chants, and existed prior to 1893 or so. I thought the modern hulas would be more…well, modern, but in this case they were mostly from the 20’s and 30’s. In one hula shown on the third sketch, the performers sat down and tied tiny drums on their thighs to tap as they chanted. I ended up not having more than a half-dozen pages of sketches, though, because I was too busy watching.