African mythical creatures: the Impundulu or Lightning bird.
©ken wilson-max 2012
In the first sketch of a new series, I am going to try to illustrate African mythological creatures and characters. First up is the Lightning bird, or Impundulu. There are likely to be several versions of each of these characters, so your input is welcome. I am hoping to create a set of six to 12 finished images by the summer of 2013.
The Impundulu or Thekwane (Lightning bird) is a mythological creature in South African traditional tribal folklore. The Zulu and the Xhosa and Pondo tribes have stories about the lightning bird, described as black and white, the size of a human and which is said to cause thunder and lightning with its wings and talons. It is said to have an appetite for blood.
The lightning bird is believed to manifest itself only through lightning, except to women, to whom it reveals itself as a bird. The bird may take several forms. In one instance, a girl described a black rooster-like bird that ran up her hoe and left claw marks on her body before it flew back to the clouds. It is also described as having iridescent feathers like a peacock’s or a fiery red tail, bill and legs.
The Impundulu is believed to lay a large egg underground at the point of a lightning strike and this may be a good or bad omen. Traditionally, the tribe’s witch doctor plays the essential role in dealing with the lightning bird. The bird’s flesh can be made into a remedy for tracing thieves, as an example.
In real life, the Hammerkop, or Stork, whose territory ranges from Africa, Madagascar to Arabia, is believed to be the lightning bird.
In 2005, a South african Newspaper reported that a man was convicted of culpable homicide after killing a two-year-old child he believed to be an Impundulu.
Working with text and pictures.
The text is written and the layouts are nearly done. The working tittle is above. Here are sketches showing the treatment of the text which, to me, should be almost illustrated. The final exploration will be to bring type and image much closer together.
Recently, agents and publishers have asked for more finished presentation of book ideas. I have to admit to refusing to do this. It takes blood, sweat and tears! The reward is often a rejection with little or no explanation. It is an understandable development, though. Many people want to be published and there are not enough publishing lists is one reason.
Self publishing has opened a door of opportunity for the brave ones. It will take a little while longer to find the best way to do this with kids books, in my view, as they are still more expensive to produce.
I worked up some sketches and colour test pictures and am quite happy with the results. I normally do things in waves (if I have the time), preferring to let things sit for a few days before deciding if they work or not. Here are the two main characters from the story. It was a surprise that the text came together so quickly and so well.
A note about colour tests. While I paint with acrylics, my graphic design background means that Photoshop skills are included. The software is used to work out colours before painting. It would be interesting to do a book this way; painted line and digital colour- and that might happen one day. Enjoy!
The perils of rushing. I made a mistake on this latest version… boo-hoo! It’s back to the drawing board. The sun dries, not washes, silly. This is the corrected piece.
Just in time for the Festive season, here are the first four of a set of twelve (yes, twelve) nursery rhymes hand painted or made by yours truly. If you live in the London area the prints can be delivered by hand, in keeping with the hand made theme. They are available unframed in A4 (£10) or A3 (£15) sizes and printed on nice heavyweight art paper with inks that won’t fade with time.
In case none of this makes sense, here’s a pdf with all the details;https://kenwilsonmax.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/nursery-rhymes-by-hand.pdf
A visual for a new nursery rhyme book. ©ken wilson-max 2011