Design No. 3 – Hokusai + Richard Scarry + 1980’s Aquatic Wildlife Poster
The third design for the Thailand Burma Flora Fauna series is complete! My hope was that it could be a combination of Edo Period printmaker Hokusai, the busy children’s books of Richard Scarry, and a 1980’s Aquatic Wildlife Poster. (You remember the kind– filled to the brim with whales, coral and every kind of tropical fish imaginable…)
Birds – The three main characters of this print design are the birds (from left to right): the Green Tailed Sunbird, the Blue Winged Leafbird, and the Sapphire Flycatcher.
Insects – Other creatures include five varieties of moths and butterflies, including the Hummingbird Hawk Moth (located at the top, middle) and the angular-shaped Geometer Moth (located on the far right). Also shown are the Asiatic Honeybee (Apis Cerena), an Asian Ladybird Beetle (SE Asia’s variety of ladybug), a Rhinoceros Beetle (children here like to catch these and keep as pets), plus a small tropical gecko.
Trees – The Bodhi (pictured on the right with its heart shaped leaves and long narrative history) and on the left a variety of flowering Plumeria which I found and photographed in Bagan, Burma.
I based the flower in the design off of the variety of tree that I found in Bagan. It had the same leaf and trunk structure as Plumeria, but the flowers were softer, resembling Hibiscus.
Plumeria is actually native to Central and South America, but it has long since been naturalized to SE Asia. Across Asian folklore Plumeria is often associated with ghosts, vampires, and cemeteries, but in India garlands of its flowers are exchanged during wedding vows, and in Thailand and Burma it is often found at Temples. Also, the Hummingbird Hawk Moth (aka Sphinx Moth) is attracted to the Plumeria’s nighttime fragrance and helps to pollinate it.
Studies for the Design
Once this image started to get visually busy I decided the only way it could work would be to make it as bustling as possible, and by doing so find a balance. Pictured below are some sketchbook drawings working out the composition.
The Museum of World Insects and Natural Wonders
Today I visited the Museum of World Insects and Natural Wonders in Chiang Mai, Thailand. It was incredible, and I was fortunate enough to meet one of the founders of the museum, Mrs. Rampa Rattanarithikul.
She is Thailand’s leading expert on insects. Since the 1950′s she and her husband have dedicated their lives to insects, and specifically, the mosquito, in an effort to understand and eradicate malaria. They have researched insects all around the world, and spent years working for the Smithsonian in Washington DC. We had a very pleasant conversation about her life and work and, of course, insects.
Dr. Rampa asked about my work- so I shared about my print project and showed her some of the designs. She then offered that I could come back to do some drawing from life in the museum, which I will happily be doing that later this week. All of the insect photos shown here are from today's visit.
Thank you for reading. I appreciate all of your continued support with my project, both directly with me and over social media!