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I've been a great fan of November folktale weeks these last few years. Been following it with great enthusiasm and so getting to know the work some special illustrators.

Yup, that's me in the bollum left corner. Now, Folktaleweek is an illustrator event hosted on instagram, where illustrators of all kind and background publish illustrations on 7 prompts in 7 days. Each year there are fresh prompts and hosts and lots of inspiration - check @folktaleweek on instagram when you want to know more, and follow #folktaleweek of #folktaleweek2020 when you want to see this year's illustrations. The prompts this year are: (intro) Birth, Ritual, Courtship, Solstice, Death, Harvest, Dance. Isn't that a circle in itself??

I do know that painting/printing and illustration are not necessarily the same. And I know I'm not very trained in illustration - but I join this year nonetheless, I've finally lost my resistance. Hope I will get good illustrations done in time. I do have this great story based on this year's prompts from a very special author..... It starts like "He was the seventh son of the seventh son, born on the seventh day of the seventh month...." The author is Tim Huisman, who is also the author of the Murks&Willem episodes, published on my insta account since early 2019, still going strong. Want to read? Follow #adreadfultale on my social account. This time the style of the story is a bit different. More direct - like a childeren's fairy tale ('the liked each other and so they decided to marry') and also inspired on some blues song texts.

So what is a folktale all about for me?? In general one hears about the flow and the arc of the story (and the visuals I presume), for me that is a circular flow, may or may not be a happy ending but always something that returns to the beginning of the story. And such a flow makes these types of stories very easily related to nature. So in my early sketches, you can see a lot of circles and round compositioning. I love circular forms inside a strong square. Let's see where it brings me.

It might be nice to share some of the inspirational art work that I found for this story especial. It is about color, it's about movement, it's about atmosphere. It is less about humor and characters, those are not yet my strong points, but I will try!!

About the inspiration pictures:

1) color inspiration from my own work, linocut print.

2) Book cover by France Castle (a name destined to make folktale illustrations, don't you think??) for general folktale eariness...

3) Romanesque paiting showing the kiss of Judas in such a strong circlar form - attraction and repulsion at the same time - I think this is what might be going on between our princess and our humble man (paintings remembered from a holiday visit in France, eglise village Vicq - Haute Marne - whenever you are near PLEASE go visit!! this is really a class apart even for romanesque painting) for the Courthship promt picture.

4) Romanesque paiting, remembered from holiday visits in France, eglise de Brancion - Bourgongne

5) personal picture....

7)Studio Ghibli is an illustrator's dream, of course. This is from the movie Princess Mononoke, very very beautiful and powerfully illustrated

8) As stated by the master illustrator The Tjong King himself: princesses need beautiful dresses in every story

9) linocut I made like 30 years ago for a book about engineering and Dutch water floods.

10) Forest, green, green forest by Studio Ghibli and a magical place in the forest at that

11) Russian matchbox? danding aninals and so nice in green!

12) white birds (from

So, what to do? Check out daily posts on my insta account between November 23rd to November 29. Meanwhile I will share something about the creation of this story. And I will add the episodes after their publication to this blog post - stay tuned!!


First prompt is 'Birth' - always a very good start for a folktale. I remember a moment from our own family. A second son being born, and how does the elder one welcome a new brother? That frame got me started right in the middle of the Birth prompt picture.

Second prompt is 'Ritual' - that absolutely needs something of a magical place in a forest

The third prompt 'Courtship' needs the movement of dancing - and in this story it is both about attraction and retraction again. I tried to visualize that, also remembering the Romanesque painting with the kiss of Judas shown above.

The fourth 'Solstice' prompt is the turning point in the story, how else... And the king becomes a humble man again. I really love the short-hand-style and the directness of this story.

Fifth prompt 'Death' gives the most shocking part of the story - I'm afraid people can get like that. Some have the decency to look a bit shocked themselves, but is all after the fact!

At the sixth prompt 'Harvest' the people harvest whatever they sewed, it remains cruel - nature. And folktales are not nice and sweet, but at least they can have a logical flow. But also gives a sense of rightness and logical flow to the story that is nice. The picture shows flow in a big whirlpool way, and even mother nature as a symbol is shown.

The seventh prompt 'Dance' makes it into a better ending - so the picture is more restful again, like in the beginning. And as always in this story, the picture has a circular composition, but not always dead center, that would get so boring and bring no movement at all.


<FOLKTALE published online between Nov. 23rd and Nov. 29 of 2020| check #storyofahumbleman on my social/instagram account>


I suppose I want to make this into a book, existing in the physical world and not just in the world of bits and bytes. Do you want a copy? Order the special publication here.



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