Today I finished a drawing that had been lying on the shelf for some time. Before covid, so more than two years ago, I received a private commission from John, who'd commissioned me to make art for him twice before ("Salsa Dancing Tigers" and "Ski Jumping Penguin"). John always comes up with fun and challenging ideas to draw. This time was no different. The task at hand was to draw a peacock with go stone feathers. Later an extra criterion was added: two little birds, black and white as metaphors for the colors of the stones, would have to place the stones on the peacock's plumage, effectively playing a game of go against each other.
I'm a fan of Peng Liyao's complicated and tesuji-packed playing style (彭立尧, Chinese 8-dan professional go player) and so I decided to use his games for the go motif. I picked two of his game records and merged parts of their go positions, adding or omitting stones here and there. A black and white version of the drawing was created, and I placed it aside to think about the next stage: color.
Putting a drawing aside is a dangerous thing for me. I tend to work on an artwork continuously until it's finished, making optimal use of the flowing creative juices, because I know I need to. If I stop, life takes over. That's what happened in this case, too: other things took priority and the drawing ended in one of my many art folders. Luckily, John was in no hurry, and covid took away any urgency that was left.
I'm the kind of person that doesn't like to leave things unfinished, and the drawing was gnawing at my thoughts for months on end. It was one of those things you know you still have to do, but somehow cannot muster the willpower for. The longer you wait, the harder it becomes to commit to. One day in July I decided to finally get back to the drawing and ignore my fear of ruining it. After all that postponement, once you get going it's surprising how "easy" and pleasant the task often turns out to be. Not that I finished the drawing quickly though: I probably spent more hours on it than I did on any drawing, ever. Here is a little glimpse into the coloring process:
For me drawing is an experience of ups and downs. There are those rare drawings where everything magically seems to go the way you want it to, but more often than not I ponder, fret and experience mood swings galore. Justyna has to live through my cries of desperation: "Arrghh! The drawing is ruined!". "It's fine, I can't even see it." "Are you sure? It's right there. It's a huge mistake!". "Nah, come on, it's barely visible." I'm lucky that she is as understanding as she is and genuinely likes my art. She always reassures me and puts me back on track.
The key is to find peace in "mistakes" and learn to go with the flow. If I do that, the mistake often evolves into something else that becomes a part of the whole. During this particular drawing, the coloring process of the background was particularly stressful. I put so much time into the feathers and go stones of the peacock, and I was so content with the result, that the background had to be perfect. Because my expectations were high, anything I would have done would have probably disappointed me. I wasn't happy with the grass at first, and then the sunset seemed to make it better, but halfway through it felt like it was only making it worse. Sometimes you need some distance, and after it was finished I gained a different perspective. It also helped that everybody else seemed to love the drawing, so now I'm loving it too!
Bart Slijkhuis from go news website www.baduk.info recently interviewed Peter Brouwer and myself about our new go book Weird and Wonderful, Volume 1: Extraordinary Moves by Professional Go Players. Bart asks us about our discovery of the game of go, our videos for BadukMovies, the writing process of the book and our favorite chapters of this first volume in a series of three.
You can watch the interview by clicking here (redirects you to YouTube).
After more than a year of working on it, I am proud to announce the release of my newest book: Weird and Wonderful - Volume 1: Extraordinary Moves by Professional Go Players.
I co-wrote it with Peter Brouwer and it was published in December 2021 by the Kiseido Publishing Company.
It is available as a hard copy on the website of Kiseido (click here), on the website of European distributor Schaak & Go winkel Het Paard (click here) and as an e-book in the SmartGo web store (click here). Soon it will also be available in other go shops worldwide.
This is the first volume of what will be a series of three books:
Volume 1 is a collection of creative, bizarre, exquisite, rare and funny moves from professional play. Suitable for players of about 10-kyu to 6-dan level.
The book counts 246 pages and contains the following 18 chapters:
If you've read it, I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comment section!
In winter 2021, the Chinese Weiqi Association organized an art competition on their social media platform Little Fox Weiqi. For the competition, artists were encouraged to create designs based around the fox in the logo of Little Fox Weiqi, incorporating references to the game of go.
"Little Fox Weiqi" stems from China's nickname for go: 木野狐 (wooden wild fox). In the announcement of the competition, the fox was described as "very clever, cute, lively but also naughty." The organization further wrote: "We hope to use the image of 'little fox' to show the elegance, kindness and wisdom of Chinese weiqi, and its powerful vitality and infinite charm."
Inspired by the logo of Little Fox Weiqi (above), I made an illustration in the same cute and child-friendly style, using gradients for the red-orange-white fur similar to the original. I played into the classic qualities of naughtiness and shrewdness of the fox: my fox peeks at us from behind a beautiful wooden go board, smiling happily while simultaneously placing a go stone on the board with its tail. I titled my design "Cheeky Little Fox".
I ended up making two versions of my design which I both entered into the competition: one with my usual black outlines (above) and one without (at the beginning of this blog post).
On social media, opinions were divided on which version was better. Personally, I probably prefer the version without the black outlines: it is more in line with the logo of Little Fox Weiqi, and this change from my usual drawing style positively surprised me.
All participants of the competition will receive prizes or certificates of honour. The winners should be announced in the coming weeks.
This December my go mugs are flying off the shelves!
Earlier this year I had my first batch of go mugs made, featuring my go-playing cat. A month and a half ago or so, they sold out and I decided to order more with the upcoming holidays in mind. I then also added two new mugs to the store, sporting my go turtle and butterfly. Recently, that batch also ran out! The cat was the most popular, but the turtle also did really well. Only 3 of the butterfly mugs remained.
Today the third run arrived: 15 cats and 10 turtles are now back in business. I chose a fourth design to print on mugs as well: the raccoon-dog that drums its belly. Unfortunately those turned out too dark and too unsharp, so I won't put them in the shop. I am currently getting that misprint rectified and I hope to have a proper version of the raccoon-dog mug up online soon.
If you are interested in my go mugs, have a look in my Etsy shop by clicking here.
They say that all good things must come to an end. Unfortunately, not long after finishing the October issue of the European Go Journal, my work for the magazine abruptly came to a close after nine successful editions. If it were up to me, my designing and proofreading work for the Journal would have continued on for a long time, but it is what it is.
The last three covers I created can be viewed above, and in more detail below, for which I used artworks of three different artists: Alizée Chabin (France), Aleksandra Khokhlova (Russia), and Gonca Mine Çelik (Turkey).
Alizée Chabin (Kalyptane) made two illustrations especially for the occasion, adorning the Journal's front and back. In the Art & Photography chapter of the August edition, she writes:
"The painting that I made for the front cover is titled “Feeling Cosmic”. We see a go board, standing on top of the cliffs of Saint-Georges-de-Didonne. The position on the board shows the final game of the Transatlantic Professional Go League between Ilya Shikshin 4p and Ryan Li 3p, reviewed in this issue. In the distance, the historic warship “L'Hermione” from the 17th century, whose home port is Rochefort, sails off. I took some liberties in the drawing: the landscape is missing the wooden fishing platforms on the seashore and the plants in the foreground don't actually bloom that way. The painting for the back cover is titled “Le Phare du Bout du Monde”, which translates to “The Lighthouse at the End of the World”. It shows the lighthouse off the coast of La Rochelle, which is a replica of the one in Patagonia (Argentina)."
The September cover was special in the sense that it is the only one to date that has a front and back that blend into each other, since they are part of one and the same artwork. I stumbled upon this drawing on Aleksandra Khokhlova's Instagram, and she was kind enough to let the Journal use it. In the magazine, Aleksandra explains where the inspiration for this artwork came from:
"This illustration depicts my impressions of a go tournament. Before making it, I took part in
the championship of Siberia that brought together around 50 go players with all kinds of
personalities: loud and silent, brave and careful, self-confident and modest. I wanted to capture
all of this, and so in the breaks between my games I drew sketches in my notebook. After the
tournament I colored them at home, and a new artwork was born.
To engage with this artwork, you can self-reflect with the question of “What kind of go player
am I?” Are you a brooding kangaroo, a happy ferret, a cocky bird, a doubting monkey, a beast
that watches, or a hare that sits with its back towards everyone?"
For the front cover of October, I used a drawing by professional illustrator Gonca Mine Çelik that I'd first spotted in a Turkish go magazine called Taslı Yol ("Stony Road") a few years ago. In the Journal, Gonca describes her artwork, titled "Emotions of Go":
"I struggle a lot during a game of go, and this drawing illustrates how much of a struggle the
game can be. Go is a real challenge to one’s character. It provides so many ups-and-downs,
and pushes you to your limits. One moment you can feel very happy, then very sad the next. To
handle that, you need to be strong mentally. I think every go player will recognize this sentiment
and might even be able to identify with my illustration."
For the November edition, I had already asked Ofer Zivony (Israel) to create a portrait of Stanislaw Frejlak 1p, the freshly promoted professional go player of the EGF. I also contacted Zoé Constans (France) for the December edition, and I had plans to use a wonderful illustration by Clémence Bécaud (France), sent in by her husband Hugo Maussion (who created the cover of the July edition). My hope is that you'll be able to see their artworks on the covers of future editions.
My art lives on inside the Journal for just a little longer. In the November edition, all subscribers that receive a physical copy will also receive a Christmas card with it, designed by yours truly. There are six variations of the card, making each one a limited edition collector's item (see below).
So long, EGJ, and thanks for all the fish!
The cover of the 2020-2021 Dutch Go Yearbook is the sixth consecutive one in a series I have made for the Nederlandse Go Bond. The covers feature animals, go positions and paper marbling.
The toucan artwork is a creation from 2019. The organization of the Latin American Go Congress commissioned me to make a drawing for its edition that year, and to print 1000 postcards for the event that took place in the Nihon Ki-in da América do Sul in São Paulo, Brazil.
The toucan is a bird species indigenous to large parts of South America, and is taking the place of legendary go player Honinbo Shusaku in this design. The go match in the artwork is one of the most famous ones ever played, known as "The Ear Reddening Game". The match is at its most vital stage and the toucan is about to play a move that went down in history. Reportedly, when Shusaku played move 127, it mentally shook his opponent, Gennan Inseki, so much so that his ears turned red. If you look carefully at the cacti in the drawing, you can see that their fruit are starting to blush.
I'm grateful to the NGoB; this series of yearbooks is becoming quite something and I hope future Dutch go players will enjoy my covers as much as I do. The 2020-2021 edition will be printed and distributed among the members of the Dutch Go Association in early 2022.
I have created a new go-related artwork! The occasion is a logo competition for the 2021 edition of the Congreso Latinoamericano de Go, a go tournament for Latin American players that will take place online in October this year. Requirements for the logo competition were to include a visual reference to the game of go and a representation of Latin American culture. I immediately thought of the ancient Mesoamerican civilizations, such as the Incas, Mayans, Aztecs, Olmecs and Mixtecs, and started looking into their art. Particularly some of the Mixtec drawings resonated with me, and I used them as inspiration. In the logo we see a richly dressed figure with eagle headgear similar to that of Aztec eagle warriors, placing a stone on the go board. The color palette is also taken from old iconography, with the skin being red, and the clothing and jewelry being white, turquoise and golden. The figure is seated on a stool covered with a jaguar hide; both the eagle and the jaguar were symbols of power and divinity in ancient Mesoamerica.
For logos and trademarks I often first draw a rough sketch with pen on paper. I scan that line-drawing, then trace it on the computer and refine it. In this case, after I finished the color version on the computer, I still had inspiration left and came back to my original line-art on paper. You can see the final result of the black and white original above, after I added detail to it. Lately I make most of my design work in Photoshop, but when I draw by hand on paper I feel more free and creative. Drawing by hand can be almost meditative for me: I lose myself in the flow of creation and the details of the artwork.
The deadline for the logo competition was 5th of September, and its winner will be announced on the 8th. Fingers crossed! (EDIT on 20th of September 2021: Unfortunately I did not win, but my design did get an honorable mention)
This is not the first time that I made artwork for the Latin American Go Congress. In 2019 the organizers of the congress commissioned me to make a drawing, and to print 1000 postcards for the event that took place in the Nihon Ki-in da América do Sul in São Paulo, Brazil. I drew a toucan (see images above), a bird species indigenous to large parts of South America, taking the place of legendary go player Honinbo Shusaku. The go match in the artwork is one of the most famous ones ever played, known as "The Ear Reddening Game". The match is at its critical stage and the toucan is about to play a move that went down in history. Reportedly, when Shusaku played move 127, it mentally shook his opponent, Gennan Inseki, so much so that his ears turned red. If you look carefully at the cacti in the drawing, you can see that their fruit are starting to blush.
Since February 2021 I've been working together with Artem Kachanovskyi 2p to create the European Go Journal, a monthly magazine about the game of go. The magazine includes news from recent European go events, notable news from the Asian continent where pro tournaments are more frequent, game commentaries, interviews, and recurring chapters like "Art & Photography", "World of Tesuji" by Alexandre Dinerchtein 3p and "Thirty-Six Stratagems" by Dai Junfu 8d.
My tasks for the journal are varied. I am the lead proofreader/editor, I adjust details of the layouting to improve looks, and I design the cover of each edition.
The creation of the covers is a lot of fun. I try to use different go-related artwork from as many different people as possible to showcase the diversity of the go community. This blog post looks back on the covers that I've made so far and gives a sneak peek into covers that are yet to come.
Covers so far: February - July 2021
So far six editions have been published, with artworks by the following people:
Covers yet to come
Below a sneak peek of what is yet to come.
Currently Alizée Chabin (from France), who is also known online as Kalyptane, is working on a custom cover with a nautical theme - front and back - for the August 2021 edition.
For the September and October issues, I found candidates in two amazing artists from Russia and Turkey. September will most likely have a cover made by Aleksandra Khokhlova, whose art I spotted on her Instagram account. The October issue will suitingly be adorned with autumn colors - I saw this illustration of a girl fighting off her mental demons in a Turkish go magazine called Tasli Yol (translates as "Stony Road"). That was a few years ago, and it was printed as a small picture. It is made by professional illustrator Gonca Mine Çelik and deserves to be in the spotlight.
Peter Brouwer and I have been working on a go-book this year which will be published in a couple of months by the Kiseido Publishing Company. The book will be called Weird and Wonderful - Vol. 1. Extraordinary Moves by Professional Players. This will be the first volume in a series of three, with the second volume focusing on unusual joseki and techniques, and the third volume being a collection of spectacular go problems.
I've been thinking about the cover for volume 1 and recently came up with the concept that you see above. What are we looking at? An eccentric man, without a doubt. But not just any man. It is Cho Chikun 9-dan, legendary go player of the Nihon Ki-in, who came to Japan from South Korea as a young boy and grew to become one of the best and most exciting players of the country. Cho is well-known for his cheekiness and sharp play on the go board, and especially for his ability to make life in confined spaces. The go position above him refers to one of the chapters of the book titled "Double Ladder Breakers that Calmed the Gods". A double ladder breaker cancels out two ladders of the opponent simultaneously and rarely occurs. It is known in Japanese as 鎮神頭 (Chinshinto), stemming from the Chinese 镇神头 (Zhèn shén tóu). Its Korean name is translated from Japanese to 진신두 (Jin shin-doo). Three professional games that include this rare move are analyzed in the chapter, of which one was played by Cho Chikun 9-dan against Kobayashi Satoru 9-dan for the 20th Kisei title match in January 1996.
It is not yet clear if this design will make the cover, but I am happy with the new artwork. I am contemplating doing more go-portraits in this style. Is there a player that you'd like me to portray? Let me know.
Welcome to my website! My name is Kim Ouweleen, my artist pseudonym is Murugandi. I am an illustrator, graphic designer, author and go teacher from Amsterdam.
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