Jun Qi - Art & Illustration

Jun Qi

storytelling and illustration

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A Stormy Reunion

May 25, 2022
Children's Books
The final piece
Initial thumbnail sketches for this piece (line, values, color)
WIP breakdown

This painting was inspired by the monthly art contest prompt over at SVSLearn. The prompt was "Storm", and I decided to use that to further develop ideas for the characters from the two children's book series "Growing Up with Shan Shan" and "Shan Shan and Friends".

Painted in Krita.

I don't think this scene will appear in the first series of books I intend to work on, but it's giving me loads of ideas for an illustrated chapter novel for older children.

I decided to use the image as a creative writing prompt too. I haven't done creative writing in ages (not even in English, so let's not even mention Chinese), so it was a welcome challenge and good practice. Lots to improve, but I was happy to find that I still have a good intuition for the craft.

A Stormy Reunion

"Mr. Otter!!! I'm coming!!!"

Amidst the deafening downpour, Mr. Otter heard the high-pitched voice of a little girl calling out from a distance, and saw a hazy little silhouette moving quickly towards him. The shadowy little figure looked as if a giant, dark green mushroom had sprouted above its head, bobbing furiously as it made its way towards him. He made out the blurry outline of two little legs, running pitter-patter pitter-patter atop the rain-soaked grass, never pausing for a single breath.

That voice sounded at once so familiar, and yet admist the roaring of the rain, also so muddled and strange.

That figure looked at once so familiar, and yet behind the moving veil of water, also unfathomably dark and distant.

Nonetheless, he patiently waited, as if there was a small, confident little voice telling him: it's definitely her.

In that cold and cruel rain he stood, body upright and still and as straight a pole, watching that shadowy figure moving in from the distance, slowly growing larger and larger. His partner was curled up next to him and around their young son, trying to comfort the poor boy who had been frightened by the deathly sound of rain and thunder and was bawling his lungs out. His little daughter, who had always been the bolder one, had a slippery little fish in her young paws, still alive and kicking, and was giggling happily as she played with it, as if completely oblivious to the fact that their family was now caught in this terrible downpour. His daughter continued wiggling and giggling next to him; his frightened little son, refusing to be comforted by mom, continued to cry and bawl; the smell of raw fish and rainwater and wet mud mixed together in a strange yet comforting way, filling the air with a mild sweetness. The unrelenting rain continued to strike his body, pitter-patter pitter-patter, continued to strike his smooth, silky, dark brown coat of fur, before flowing and drip-drip-dripping off in the wink of an eye.

He paid absolutely no attention. He simply stood there, upright and still, silently, patiently watching that dark little figure making its way towards him, behind that violently moving curtain of rain, almost wraith-like, almost as if he were in a dream.

Gradually, he began to realize that the shadowy little figure was no longer just a muddy grey. Even with dark, stormy clouds stretched across the sky, the warm yellow-orange light of dusk managed to peek above the horizon, and cast its gentle glow upon one side of the small dark figure. Hints of peachy skin, denim-blue shorts, and sun-yellow sleeves peeked out from the dull grey. What had previously looked like a giant, dark-green mushroom sprouting above the figure now looked more and more like a little, dark-green umbrella, held up forcefully and stubbornly by a tiny little fist clenched tightly around the handle. Beneath the umbrella, two eyes, shining fiercely like dark, black pearls, made their presence felt. Those rosy red cheeks, against the turbid grey of the surroundings, looked especially vivid. That mouth, which would normally be stretched out in a cheerful little smile, was now wide open, calling, almost desperately. All in all, it was a most serious, fierce and determined expression on that little face, under the soft glow of the setting sun.

Suddenly, he realized that he was shivering. Was it that he had caught a cold in the violent rain? No, that couldn't be it. An otter was a creature that absolutely loved the water, rainwater or otherwise. In his whole otter life, he had spent countless hours roaming about many a river, creek, lake, sea, pond, and canal. Not once had he ever caught a cold from swimming in all that water, whether it had been pleasantly lukewarm, deliciously cool, or even bordering on bitingly cold. His thick coat of fur protected him well. And yet, here he was, most certainly shivering. A strange feeling had also begun to swell up in his chest, like a slowly expanding bubble which gradually permeated his entire body. His still-shivering body.

Suddenly, he realized that the reason he was shivering, was not because he had caught a cold in the rain.

He was shivering, because he couldn't hold down the violent swell of emotions that had suddenly overcome him - feelings of warmth, of being deeply touched, of being filled with regret, and the unmistakable tinge of sadness...

He didn't know when it had started happening, but it suddenly seemed as if the defeaning roar of rain and thunder, the relentless rustle-rustle-swoosh of the grass tormented by the wind, and the frightened cries of his poor young son, had all faded into the distance and become immeasurably dim and muffled. All he could hear, loud and clear, bright and resonant, was that high-pitched little voice, calling, echoing across the soggy wet grass, the rain-filled air, towards him.

He didn't know when it had started happening, but a teardrop rolled down his furry snout and caught on a whisker.

Teary-eyed, dripping wet, his mouth broke open into a wide smile.

"Shan Shan, you've come...!"

Jun Qi - Art & Illustration

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