Monday, June 13, 2016

About Pysanky, the Hand-Drawn Style of The Wheel of Time: Patterns of the Wheel (reposted from but still by yours truly)

The world created by Robert Jordan for The Wheel of Time offers readers a vibrant mix of elements to ignite the imagination. Readers enact their understanding of the books through cosplay, music, art, or even through food and drink. Line up any ten fans dressed as the Dragon Reborn, and while there may be some similarities, no two are the same.
Wheel of Time-inspired art ranges from elegant, elaborate fantasy creations to simple stick figures. Individual taste and perspective guides the way artists approach their craft and the way in which viewers assess the result. One can glory in the art of Michelangelo, whose realistic depictions of the human form captured every nuance precisely, yet also delight in Marc Chagall, whose folk-art style featured casually drawn people and cows seen floating in colorful skies. One artist a genius whose technical skills were flawless; the other recreating the art of the people for a totally different purpose and effect.
My own style comes from the folk art of Pysanky, the intricately decorated eggs often displayed at Easter-time. Pysanky (a word derived from the Ukrainian word “to write”) are created using a wax-and-dye resist process similar to batik, though on eggshell instead of cloth.
Pysanky also convey language, both in the symbols used and the colors of dye incorporated in their design. And while precision is used to create designs, the eggs are also handwritten. As with any type of handwriting, character and distinctiveness is conveyed by the imperfections inherent in this means of communication: loops are not always closed, and sometimes a “t “ isn’t crossed or an “i” dotted.
Patterns of the Wheel Amy Romanczuk
Most coloring books on the market today are computer-generated or aided, and by their very nature they are flawless. By contrast, my Wheel of Time coloring art book Patterns of the Wheel uses a more spontaneous style to convey the moods and meanings of images from the Wheel of Time. This book includes a key to help decipher meanings of some of the symbols used in the designs. Additionally, hidden in many of the images are words written in Old Tongue script, which those interested can decode from resources online or from The Wheel of Time Companion.
To give a brief example of how a design can be decoded, take a look below at “Patterns of the Wheel”, a page from the coloring book. When creating my version of the snake and wheel, I wanted to incorporate symbols relevant to the story. Prominent throughout the design is a symbol called “wolves’ teeth”, depicting friendship, loyalty, and wisdom. The lower wheel consists of two sets of wolves’ teeth, seven in each set, echoing off the seven spokes of the wheel, the seven pine needles (for strength and stamina, as well as health), and calling to mind the seven Ajahs. Likewise, each of the upper circles have also been divided into seven major segments. There are triangles (which are said to enclose wishes) but which also represent a trinity, in this case, the three ta’veren; crosses for crossroads of life and four corners of the world; curls for protection; waves for safety in travels; netting for keeping close or gathering in of forces; ladders/parallel lines for the ascension of hopes; and even a bit of foliage to help fight the Blight. And that’s just for starters.
Download a print version of this drawing here if you would like copies for you and your family! (PDF is 1.2 MB.)
I’ve drawn the basics on each page to help you create a colorful design. Add your colors, your imagination, and your own elements as you wish. There’s no right or wrong way. You don’t even have to stay within the lines; just find your pattern and enjoy.
Reposted from, with permission.

Additional note:  You'll discover if you click through on the picture of the coloring book cover that Robert Jordan is listed as the primary author, which is entirely right. There are words in this version of the book. They are his, not mine. I am delighted and honored to share the space on the front of a book with him, though, even if the artist bio reflect his life, not mine. For anyone in doubt, I am still alive and kicking. 

The art of pysanky intrigued Robert Jordan. I remember being fascinated watching that facile mind unravel the messages on the eggs I'd done for him and for Harriet. Being able to explore his world through an art form he liked has been a gift.


  1. May I print this post and include it with my copy of Patterns of the Wheel?

    1. Of course! And I hope you'll at least thumb through the revised version when it comes out. I've redone a couple of the original designs and added 20 more, plus quotes from the books and a forward by Harriet.