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Prints of the flora/fauna of Thailand + Burma, designed as part of a workshop with an arts and crafts studio on the Thai-Burma border.
169 backers pledged $8,410 to help bring this project to life.

Burma Banteng – Cattle and Aloe in Bagan

Posted by Mike Schultz (Creator)
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The second contender for the Flora Fauna print series is complete! Today, I’d like to share some thoughts about that image, and also say thank you to everyone who has been reaching out to me after I post these updates. I appreciate all of your support and kind feedback with this project!

Burma Banteng, Cattle and Aloe in Bagan, 2014
Burma Banteng, Cattle and Aloe in Bagan, 2014

This image is a night scene illustrating the Burma Banteng, a species of wild cattle found across Southeast Asia. One of my goals for this project was to allow first hand experience to inform this body of work, which I feel it already has, tenfold.

Included in this image are a number of specific plants and trees, human-made structures, and other visuals I witnessed during my travels. Talk about “refilling the wellspring”, so to speak…

Travel sketchbook page from Bagan, Burma.
Travel sketchbook page from Bagan, Burma.
Bagan sketchbook detail of a banteng calf and an ancient pagoda.
Bagan sketchbook detail of a banteng calf and an ancient pagoda.
Working out variations of the composition using thumbnail drawings.
Working out variations of the composition using thumbnail drawings.

Why choose something as mundane as cattle?

One – As part of my rubric for the series, I determined that it would be too predictable to only represent animals that were exotic or endangered species. I wanted some animals that were thriving, and at least one type that lived among human beings. Like the elephant, cattle have had a complex role in the development of civilization over several millennia, and I wanted to honor that role.

A thin banteng, Bagan.
A thin banteng, Bagan.

Two – Banteng, or tembadau, are one of the animals that really stood out to me while I was in Burma. We saw so many different breeds being herded among the ruins in Bagan. Some were wilder looking varieties– buff colored oxen with wavy viking-like horns. But I found that the Bali cattle (domesticated banteng) were the most visually striking with their humps, floppy ears, and large, peaceful doe eyes.

Here’s looking at you, cow.
Here’s looking at you, cow.

Bagan was easily one of the most incredible places I have ever been, and I was surprised at how arid upper Burma is. Think: dusty red earth, dry stream beds, and a thriving variety of plants and trees acclimated to a desert climate. In the image, I included toddy palms, eucalyptus, and acacia trees, as well as cactus and aloe vera plants among the ruins of the temples.

While we were in Bagan the Orion constellation was prominent in the nighttime sky, and the crescent moon would lay flat on its back in a way that appeared unusual to me. I wanted to remember these details so I included them in the print design.

A temple in Bagan, early sunset hours.
A temple in Bagan, early sunset hours.

Bagan – Bagan was the ancient capital city of what would later become Burma. Between the 11th and 13th century thousands of temples, monasteries and stupas were constructed there, of which there are still over 2,200 pagodas left today.

Sunset over Bagan. The Bagan plain spans an area of approximately 40 square miles!
Sunset over Bagan. The Bagan plain spans an area of approximately 40 square miles!

A couple of weeks ago I participated in local Mae Sot NGO Kick-Start Art’s annual auction. It raises funds for the organization by asking local artists to make pieces inspired by an artwork made by one of the school children attending its art programs.

I chose two kids’ pieces that humored me– one depicting a joyful banana and another of a sad mosquito. For which to accompany them (and to keep within the logic of the original artwork) I made images of a morose banana and a happy mosquito. It was a lot of fun, and both sold for a good cause.

One of my artworks for a charity auction depicting a morose banana. We have fun…
One of my artworks for a charity auction depicting a morose banana. We have fun…

Currently, I'm busy at work on the fourth and fifth Flora Fauna images. The third image design is complete, but I am giving it a few days for touching up before I share it with anyone. 

Thank you for reading and for your support!

Comments

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    1. Mike Schultz Creator on

      @Marylin Schultz - Thank you so much for the kind comment! I believe that eucalyptus trees were transplanted all over the world by the British, for one reason or another. That's a nice memory of your childhood, painful feet and all. I've always loved the way eucalyptus tree bark peels the way that it does. Miss you!

    2. Missing avatar

      Marylin Schultz on

      What a sweet image of "mother and child!" I knew another image would be coming soon and I'm delighted with your choice and rendering! I was always under the impression that Eucalyptus trees only grew in Australia and California.(silly me.) My memory of them in CA is of man's use of them for shelter belts between crops. But our neighbors, next door, had a couple of them, and the nuts (?) that dropped to the ground, were hard on a child's bare feet! Love and miss you!
      P.S. Also liked your morose banana :^)

    3. Mike Schultz Creator on

      @william benson - Thanks! Hope you all are well. :)

    4. Missing avatar

      william benson on

      love the updates!