Zhu-Da, legendary calligrapher and priest of the Quing Dynasty inspired a myth that endures today:
A rich patron commissions the painting of a fish, waits three years, then demands the work. Without a word, the artist dips his brush in ink. In a flurry of strokes, a splendid fish appears. Amazed, the patron demands to know why something so easy should have taken him so long to create. Still wordless, the artist opens his cupboard…and thousands of pictures of fish come tumbling out.
The Living Dream is a children’s picture book that retells this legend, exploring a simple concept: those things that appear most effortless have often taken the longest to master. Here, the settings are inspired by glass plate negatives of New York City in the 1920s, as an older woman recounts a memory from her youth. As is often the case with memories—what really happened and what one remembers is blurred—creating a story filled with magic as the artist’s paintings come to life. Quite literally.