Follow #folktaleweek2022 to see all the work shared Nov 14-20, 2022

Every year, I think “I would like to do something for #folktaleweek!” And then life happens and I get too busy. And this year would be no different except my primary EdTech client is going through some changes and quite suddenly stopped having work for me. So starting Friday, I decided to try and get SOMETHING together for this week. I started sketching and pondering and some ideas started to coalesce. I don’t have time to write my own story with the prompts, so I decided to use existing stories for inspiration.

Sometimes when you do personal projects, they sort of make themselves and this one also has a mind of its own. Since I prioritized The Omer Project for the last couple of years, I haven’t done any new portfolio or figurative illustration work in a while. So I decided to go back to a beginning of sorts. When I was a bit younger and studying theatrical design, I was inspired by Erte. I loved the idea of an illustrator who also designed scenery and costumes (and yes, also Maurice Sendak among others). Although I loved his clean, elegant lines, and poster flat colors, his work was never something I attempted to emulate. This is before the days of digital so I assumed it all had to be screen work. This was also over 30 years ago.

I had zero intention of doing this project in Adobe Illustrator. I’ve spent the last several years working on my non-digital techniques. And I’ve hated Adobe Illustrator for a very long time. The software and I first met 25 years ago at a time when you had to reverse paths in order to compound them to poke a hole in a shape. This was not particularly user friendly. And pulling Bezier Curves into place with handles was too much for me.  I didn’t like fighting with my drawing. So my twenty year hatred of Illustrator ran up against a wall five years ago when my vector-ish software of choice, Adobe Flash (formerly, Macromedia Flash, formerly FutureSplash – yes, I was there with it all along), suddenly became software non-grata and I was forced to start creating elementary school spot and technical illustrations using Illustrator instead. 

I have to say this software has improved substantially with age. While there is still quite a bit I don’t know about Illustrator, it seemed the appropriate medium for what I had in mind. And, as I’ve already got a work flow of building library elements in it, it may also be the quickest tool to create the most polished *ahem* rough drafts in my current arsenal. My initial plan was to do up wireframes in Illustrator and print them out to finish traditionally. But there’s not enough time for that. I’ll be lucky if I can get in all seven drafts this week. Also for brevity, I’m going to attempt to do these paper doll portrait style. And I’ll be keeping an eye on how long they take. It’s always good to know how long work takes you so you can give good time estimates. Well, here goes…

Fool - The Emperor Has No Clothes

Day 1: Fool

Based on “The Emperor’s New Clothes” by Hans Christian Andersen. One of the most well-known morality tales, “about a vain emperor who gets exposed before his subjects.

Day 2: Tree

This is inspired by “The Golden Tree,” a Jewish-Indian folktale that I recently stumbled on. This one will require a little more research but the tale itself is intriguing including it being BOTH Jewish and Indian! With a lack of handy resources, I based the clothing on a combination of 19th century Turkish and Afghani Jewish clothing styles.

The Golden Tree - A Jewish Indian Folktale

And the golden tree grows within that fountain, surrounded by it on all sides. Many have tried to reach it, but all have failed and drowned in the boiling waters. But if you take my shoes, and wear them when you enter the waters, the heat of the waters will have no effect…

There, in that sacred circle, the Emperor saw the golden tree face to face, as had happened so often in his dreams. But now he was astounded to discover that the golden tree was not a motionless object created out of gold, but was itself a golden fountain that sprang up in that place, with molten gold that formed the shape of a golden tree…

Excerpted from

Attendant to the Queen of the Night

Day 3: Star

An attendant to the Queen of the Night from Mozart’s “The Magic Flute.” Inspired by Erté and Billy Porter.

I technically finished this one at 11:59. Pencils down. It’s not exactly what I intended and still very much not where I’d like it to be, but that’s why I’m calling these drafts!

This is also one of those reasons for my hating on Adobe Illustrator. It’s really difficult to make complex shapes like the star halo look like they’re coming from behind to overlap the fronts of other shapes. 

Day 4: Rebel

The Scarlet Pimpernel. Need I say more?

I AM, however, fessing up to “pant-sing” this challenge. I started late and have been trying to do these around my life, which got a bit hectic these last two days. So I missed posting this one on yesterday’s deadline and will now miss posting today’s. 


December 13th

I have officially slipped out of the challenge. I intended to keep going but we went away for Thanksgiving and life happened and so I’m just going to leave these now and take what I’ve learned on to the next challenge or project which is likely to be a much needed portfolio update!