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It wasn’t easy constructing a horizontal banner of a design that is meant to be vertical. Many of my elements had to be re-composed and re-arranged to fit the new banner. I changed the colours a little too. However, finally seeing our works come to life on the Media Wall, was such a fulfilling experience. The colours of the screen really brought our the details of the banner, even better than the printed banner.
I started developing my compositions through sketches after vectoring the main motifs. I divided the canvas into two sections; the upper part depicting heaven, and the sea, where the Dragon King resides, and the lower portion, Earth. In the myth, the dragon spirit wanders around Earth during the Hungry Ghost Festival. Therefore, this illustration will show the Dragon King coming down to Earth at the start of the Hungry Ghost Festival. Offerings will be placed at the temple’s doorstop for the Dragon King as well. The framing suggests the Dragon entering the “gate” to Earth.
I had difficulty coming up with fresh ideas from the previous concept, moreover, it was lacking also a “asian” element that was a requirement in the design brief. Hence, I decided to create my banner based on a Hungry Ghost Festival myth. I was intrigued by the story of the Dragon King and I felt inspired the moment I researched upon it.
The Dragon King of Eastern Seas
The legend of the Dragon King of the Eastern Seas, is lesser-known myth of the Hungry Ghost Festival. When the Dragon King was sentenced to death because of a wrong he did, he approached Emperor Tang Taizong for help. The Emperor felt sorry for him and vouched to do what he could to save the Dragon King’s life. Unfortunately, the plan did not succeed.
Shortly after his death, the Dragon King appeared in Emperor Tang’s dream for not keeping his promise. This resulted in his plight as a wandering spirit. On the 15th day of the seventh lunar month, Emperor Tang ordered all Buddhist and Taoist priests in the capital to offer prayers, as well as food and drink for the Dragon King, marking the beginning of the Hungry Ghost Festival.
I wanted to paint something out of my comfort zone, that is why I went for an abstract piece this time round. I had to learn how to simplify shapes from their original details and it was harder than I expected. Our eyes are trained to observe the tiniest details but not to see the subjects as a whole. I painted different kinds of textures to accentuate these details (angular and some cursive strokes). I also liked how the colours turned out, it feels as if he’s “underwater”.