The story of Sinbad covers the merchant-sailor’s seven separate voyages, each of which ended in shipwreck and disaster. Though this is hands-down the most adventurous tale in all of the Arabian Nights, and though Sinbad’s many troubles (cannibals, giant birds, etc.) provided a wealth of imagery, the illustration that resulted is one of the more tranquil pictures in the series. At the end of every terrible voyage, Sinbad swears he will stay at home forever, but after a few months he can’t resist the sea anymore and he sails off once again. He pretends to be wholey optimistic at the beginning of these trips, but the reader knows it’s going to get bloody soon, and given his awful track record, it’s hard to believe that Sinbad doesn’t know this too. In every case, he is the sole survivor of his crew, and even then he tends to make it only because he has a high tolerance for starvation.
For this reason, I wanted the illustration to show Sinbad knowingly sailing into the arms of danger (or in this case, the tentacles of a sea monster), in a moment when he still has a chance to turn back, but refuses. As a bonus, I finally got to paint that Chinese junk boat.