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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Carlos

Folktale Week 2020

Updated: Dec 15, 2020

Folktale Week was special this year. Despite the chaos in moving and the indecision, I was able to participate and create some of my most beloved pieces. In this blog, I described my art process and inspiration for the series. Here are my contributions to this year's Folktale Week Instagram Art Challenge.

When Creative Heads Collide

This year, I have created illustrations from another original, albeit unfinished story I co-wrote with my best friend and collaborator, Aries Cayabyab. How the story came to be was because of our group's Facebook Messenger chat room where we joked around about silly things when everyone was still active on the social media platform. In college we also played with stories and characters, imagining scenarios as well as the perfect coiffeur and of course, attire. He drew, I colored, he spouted ideas, I expanded and wrote them down and we stayed in the remote campus until sunset. Aries began the first paragraph and I added until the exchange became convoluted with so many back stories and characters, we had to stop and leave it for years. Now the group chat was deactivated and Aries deleted his Facebook account, I moved from one country to another and we all lived separate lives. Of course we remained best friends and every reunion once a year was as though we were never apart.

Luckily I copy-pasted the entire thread onto a document and let it sleep in my "Literata" file folder for many years along with the many stories I have also cast aside because you know, life.

The 2020 Prompts

Honestly the prompts this year were not so inspiring, meaning the visuals did not come instantly and I had to work harder to come up with a cohesive concept. I delayed the brainstorming partly because I also had other urgent commitments to finish such as my MATS e-courses and our pending move to Dubai. I only had two weeks before the launch of my favorite Instagram art challange.

The original concept was to create tarot card style of illustration, borders and all. There would not be a single story to follow and I would just interpret the prompt as an independent image. The tarot look would be the unifying element. I looked for various folklores from all seven continents and once I had found the right match to the prompt I started work.

Nope. It wasn't working. About 75% through the illustration that week when I realized that what I have done so far was blah! No spark! So back to the drawing board.

After an excessive amount of staring in space, I remembered that story about the three cursed sister witches, "Blood Moon." Eureka! All of a sudden I had overflowing ideas and clear visuals of the series. I finished painting and assembling in a couple of days, a week ahead of the launch, which is a clear indication of my enthusiasm. It will be dark, nearly monochromatic and elegant. Best friend and creative director, Aries, whom I had to remind about the story, approved of the illustrations. Great!


On the eve of the sacred ritual when the moon turns blood red the sorceress, Morathea, and her daughters prepare for their great offering until betrayal angered the High Spirits and doomed the witches for eternity. Only one of her daughters would be able to save the family even if it meant sacrificing her own life.

"Birth of a River" | Watercolor and digital collage | 2020

Day 1: Birth

“Birth of a River”

The High Spirits punished the sorceress, Morathea, for her blunder and turned her into a river that will forever weep for her sins and atone for her doomed daughters.

“Virgin’s Blood” | Watercolor and digital collage | 2020

Day 2: Ritual

“Virgin’s Blood”

For the gift of immortality, all three maiden daughters of the sorceress Morathea must drink the blood of a virgin.

“The Word of a Witch” | Watercolor and digital collage | 2020

Day 3: Courtship

“The Word of a Witch”

In exchange for her freedom, the witch Arran wooed the knight and promised him to grant any wish he desired—a promise that would later on haunt her.

“Blood Moon” | Watercolor and digital collage | 2020

Day 4: Solstice

“Blood Moon”

On the longest night as the moon turned blood red, an ominous sight, Arran the witch received a visitor, a black stag named Anchou. The creature gave her instructions on how to capture her sisters, who in their monstrous forms had pillaged the mortal grounds.

“Imprisonment” | Watercolor and digital collage | 2020

Day 5: Death


To protect the mortals from the monstrous wrath of her sisters, Arran imprisoned them to eternal sleep in an ancient tree hidden in the belly of the dark forest.

“Blood of the Beast” | Watercolor and digital collage | 2020

Day 6: Harvest

“Blood of the Beast”

Eliashea, sister of Morathea, who had been thirsting for power, had sabotaged the sacred ritual by bleeding the beasts of the forest. Her cruel deception had caused horrible consequences to her sister and her daughters. As for her punishment, the gods tied her on top of a mountain so that lightning struck her forever.

“The Gathering” | Watercolor and digital collage | 2020

Day 7: Dance

“The Gathering”

Morathea and her daughters gathered in the clearing of the dark forest. She raised her hands to the scarlet moon and all three maidens swirled around the sacred grounds to call upon the High Spirits for the time of the offering had come.

It Ain't a Challenge if You're Relaxed

Joining this art challenge with global participation of artists is for me a necessity for so many reasons. One is because I would be adding pieces into my portfolio. Two is I would be creating a body of work with a cohesive look that will be consistent with my other pieces making my style even stronger and more distinctive. Three is I would be writing. Four is that I would be sharing my work to many hashtag Follktale Weekers, one of my means of "showing up." And finally simply because it is super fun and inspiring to see different interpretations of the prompts. You get to discover and connect to so many great and new artists out there. Sure, it can be daunting and time crunching but it is not a challenge if you are simply breezing through it. As always, planning ahead and commitment are key.


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