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!
Omg, I didn't even noticed that positions on the tail are from real games of the master you admire, nice insight! 😮 As for emotional rollercoaster during the art process, I can definitely feel that! We often notice some small mistakes or imperfections that bugs our eyes till the very end, but any other person who looks at the artwork would be like "Nope. Can't see a thing!" We are out worst enemies 😅
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Welcome to my website! My name is Kim Ouweleen, my artist pseudonym is Murugandi. I am an illustrator, author, proofreader and go teacher from Amsterdam.
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