All this miserable weather has made for some perfect studio days: drying off between soggy dog walks and getting dirty with charcoal. It's certainly easier at this time of High Mud than last summer, when I was chained to my drawing table while tourists to my piece of Vacationland rode by on their bicycles.
Here are some of the 26 illustrations I did last June and July for The Star Fruit Tree, a Vietnamese folk tale that appears in the Oxford University Press Myths and Legends series, recently published.
It's the tale of two brothers: one greedy and one good. This is the older brother, who quickly claims the father's riches after he dies.
This leaves the younger brother to sit by his only inheritance, a star fruit tree.
I like this drawing of the older brother who spends his evenings furtively downing rice cakes.
Short of going to Vietnam for reference, I found a video at the library that followed a boy in Ho Chi Min City, a day-in-the-life documentary that was pretty informative.
And he got to ride with his sister and her boyfriend to a karaoke club!
I found a straw hat in my daughter's dress-up bin and employed my favorite model, too.
Here the younger brother shows humility to the big raven that's been eating all the star fruit, his only asset.
I tapped some flavors for inspiration and visited Huong's, a Vietnamese restaurant in Portland with my favorite spice girl, Kirsten. She gets into the act here by pretending to push away her raven pie.
The good brother could never EVER eat a raven pie!
He proves his good will to the raven, who flies him to a reward beyond his belief, piles and piles of gold.
He collects a bag full and races back to his humble hut.
My neighbors posed for the moment when the greedy brother finally visits his younger brother's family, upon hearing of their good fortune. Thank you, Connellys and Imogen!
The family is a bit skeptical of the older brother's sudden interest in their star fruit tree.
The older brother swaps the big estate for the star fruit tree and waits impatiently for the raven to return. Here Marty is yelling at the raven to take him to the gold, and quick!
Of course, the greedy brother isn't showing any respect to the raven.
Even though the raven flies the greedy brother to the same pile of gold, is it any surprise that his bag is too heavy for the return trip?
The greedy brother falls into the sea while the young brother and his family wonder what happened to him. They live on in the big house, nourished by the sweet star fruit.
These morality tales play out in many cultures but reinforce the same values.
It was a fun project to put myself in another time and place, researching, referencing, and tasting the golden rule with Vietnamese flavor.