Monday, March 31, 2008

Red pepper

The red pepper was bought to make a salad. It stayed in the fridge for a few days waiting for me to be in the mood to make a salad. It looked almost too good to eat and so I decided to make two drawings of it before consuming it.

Friday, February 08, 2008


I bought a book on 'The Jewelry of Southeast Asia'. At $25, it was priceless for the kind of photos and documentation of the ethnic and court jewellery of Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines since the Bronze age. To me it is a treasure trove of material for drawing. Why draw them? Actually they are such beautiful artefacts that it is quite pointless to copy them. The purpose really is to appreciate the intricacy and the craftsmanship of these beautiful pieces and to get a feel of how difficult it must have been to craft them.

After making these drawings, first using ink alone and subsequently using pencil and going over with ink, I realise that just trying to reproduce its likeness is tedious enough, I can imagine how much work must have gone into making this tiny bead out of gold.

Sunday, January 27, 2008


I took a day off and went gallivanting by myself. I needed the exercise even if it was to move up and down escalators and in and out of shops. Shopping is a physical activity. At the end of 2 hours, I was tired and found a little cafe that was empty except for the waitresses handing out leaflets to passers-by. I liked the emptiness though it wasn't good for business. I guess business will be better towards dinner time. So I was grateful to be seated at the very back of the cafe facing the unobstructed entrance. I ordered a passion fruit tea and when it came I decided to take out my sketch pad and do a few drawings so that time will pass more quickly while I wait for my son to call.
I did three drawings starting with what was on the table, next to a baby in a pram that was next to a lady having tea with her husband. A Nepali waitress chatted with me telling me about her country and I said that I would like to visit it someday. She liked my drawings and I was glad.

Initially, I was disturbed that the proportions were not right. But then art is a matter of perception. I do not think that I have to replicate what I see with 100% accuracy. It was just the experience of puting things down on paper that mattered. So even though I have not duplicated what I saw exactly this drawing depicts how I had given every ounce of concentration to every item on the table.This drawing of the baby in the pram was more challenging because it was about 10 meters away from my table. What fascinated me were the tiny feet of the baby and they were what I started with. These two characters were the Ah Beng and Ah Huay stereotypes. They were outside the cafe and my eyesight being less than perfect, I could only manage impressions only. I enjoyed these sketches because I was safe from being discovered. I should really do drawings like these more often.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Frangipani painting

On the afternoon of Christmas Eve I decided to continue with my frangipani painting after a period of lay-off. I was just in the mood to paint. It is still not done yet but I am pretty pleased withe what I have done so far - repainting the background so that it is less distracting, giving more details to the leaves and two of the flowers. A lot more needs to be done to make the flowers more refined.

Butterfly drawings

On the eve of the eve of Christmas, friends came over. For the first half of the evening the guys were watching football on TV. We were supposed to have watched a video of a local movie "881". So while waiting for the show to begin I decided to draw these butterflies from my book on butterflies. Black and white does not do justice to the lovely colours on the wings. These drawings are just preliminaries so that I may be able to paint them one of these days.

Saturday, December 08, 2007


I was looking at some old photos taken of flowers that I have filed away for the day when I could digitise them. When I saw this photo of a bunch of frangipani flowers against the water of a swimming pool, I felt the urge to paint it. It is not a particularly attractive bunch of flowers as I have taken pictures of more alluring blooms of the same kind of flowers. Something in that picture suggests that beauty is not just what you see on the surface. Everything before our eyes can be a potential art subject. We just need to take that object and look at it more thoroughly and the inner beauty will surface. I started by doing some drawings to get a feel of of the shape and texture of these flowers and also taking note of the variations in tone.

When I was outlining the shape of the subject, I found the leaves to be more interesting partly because the flowers appeared more complicated to capture with the brush as it needs more concentration power which I did not have enough of when I started painting. The painting above took about two hours before I stopped for dinner. The state of this painting was arrived at from where I left off last night after about two hours. I have put in more details of the veins on the leaf on the left-hand side of the flowers and painted the background with a combination of ultramarine blue and white. I have made the painting appear rather cold and will have to figure out how to raise the temperature a little, perhaps I could make the water more abstract and give it a tinge of a warm colour to reduce the coldness. My next big challenge would be getting the flowers to look bright and beautiful.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Drawings on Fraser's Hill

Drawings made during my recent trip to Fraser's Hill.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Hare Wallaby

Why did I do this drawing of an animal that I have never seen in real life? I needed a picture of the animal for a writing activity with the kids at the day-care centre where I put in a few hours of community service a week. As I intend to put up stuff created by the kids on the internet, original stuff, I made use of photos that I have taken myself. Since I do not have a photo of this Hare Wallaby amonst my collection, the next best thing to do was to draw a realistic picture of it:

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Hibiscus Art 1

So I have no time and therefore no inclination to paint. The next best thing to do is to express myself through photography and the subject of my attention these days is my hibiscus shrub in the backyard.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Another butterfly

I am making good progress...100 butterflies will emerge.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Drawing for the day

There is no excuse for not drawing. The 'no time' reason cannot apply. All I need is to carry a sketch book and a few pens and pencils with me the same way that I always have a camera in my handbag or whatever bag I happen to be carrying. Drawing sharpens my observation skills which means to say that the more often and the more sketches I do, the more connected I will be with my surroundings. Drawing is like meditation because there is nothing one can focus on except the subject one is drawing. This sketch of the giant water lily from the Amazon was made at the Botanic Gardens in about 15 minutes.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Butterfly project

It all started when I stumbled upon an excellent book on butterflies one weekend. I was so inspired by the loveliness of these creatures in the glossy pages of the book that I thought it would be fun to do a painting with a hundred butterflies on the canvas. However I did not want to copy paint from the pictures in the book even though that would be the easiest thing to do.

For a start, I want to paint butterflies that I have seen and photographed at random and so I dug into my collection of photos going back a few years. I found one set of butterfly photos taken at a park by the beach and tried to identify the specie from the book on butterflies. Initially I thought it was the Monarch Butterfly and later discovered that it was a local breed called Danaus chrysippus chrysippus or Plain Tiger.Monarch butterfly featured in the book "The Complete Encyclopedia of butterflies by Wijbren Landman.

Before I start to paint, I need to study the patterns on this butterfly to get the feel of what the Plain Tiger butterfly is about. In an afternoon, I did 4 drawings from the photos I have taken. It was tedious but worthwhile as I am now more ready to pick up the brushes confident that I will not just paint mechanically.

This last drawing was made using pencil. I seldom draw using pencils as ink is my preferred medium. Having done this, I can see that I am lacking in skill where shading and tones are concerned. Nevertheless I enjoyed this exercise as I had the advantage of correcting the drawing till I am satisfied. Ink drawings are less forgiving and I have to be very careful there.

Reference for Plain Tiger Butterfly.

Most recent butterfly drawings on 19 Oct 2007 - the first was drawn from a photo taken of a photo exhibit at the Singapore Botanic Gardens on Butterflies. The second was referenced from a photo from those taken at East Coast Park near the MacDonalds.

Black Veined Tiger ButterflyPlain Tiger Butterfly

Monday, October 01, 2007

Heliconia - Labour of Learning

It's been quite a while since I last painted. Today I was in the mood to paint even though time was scarce. I decided to do something about the unfinished heliconia painting. I shall not give up on this painting even though I should have a long time ago because it has withstood overpainting to the point of muddied colours, undergone a process of scraping because the texture I applied was considered ugly by my daughter, withstood long periods of languishing, hidden behind another painting while waiting for renewal or destruction.

Today, I managed to salvage the bracts of the heliconia flower by loading on generous amounts of Cadmium yellow. I want the flower to be more vibrant, less 2-D and worthy of the background that I had painted at the start of my labour. I discovered that I was hindered in my progress partly because I had wanted to duplicate the colours exactly resulting in over-mixing colours. So I decided that getting the exact colours should take a back seat while I concentrate on the tones and how to make the flower come alive.

After about two hours working on this painting I think I have managed to break away from the stalemate. To be continued...Today has been a relatively good day because for one I picked up my brushes and painted after so long.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


This painting is taking a mighty lengthy time to finish. Actually, what is the finishing point? It can be up to me. If is say so at this stage, then it is.
But I continued to labour over it to give it more life and dimension. In the process I hurt my eye doing this painting (too embarrassing to relate the story) and muddied up the colours. It is not finished, I say.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


This was a fun painting that was done in 2 hours after I had tried to salvage my heliconia painting that took the same amount of time. Today has been a good day in that I was in the mood to paint and I had an afternoon that was uninterrupted by chores or grocery shopping.

After I painted Shrek, my daughter came and took a look at it. She declared that it was scary compared with the real Shrek. Okay, he was more green than he should be and not as friendly looking, that I agree. My daughter also observed that my Shrek's face was more oval than square in shape and that made me more aware that in painting people, I should establish the face shape right from the beginning. I did not and that was a mistake.

Next, I painted the donkey. This was easier to paint and was an improvement over the painting of Shrek. After that was done, I realised that I did not have enough space for the cat. I thought of leaving it out. Instead, I tilted it to the left and it turned out to be the best painting of the three.

I like to think that Shrek was the warming up exercise, Donkey was the fun character that made me more relaxed at painting and the cat was the challenge to myself that I had to get it right and I did. When my kids saw the finished painting, they thought it was cool though the characters, especially Shrek, did not resemble the original. I had fun, that was cool for me. Don't know what to do with the painting. Maybe put it up on Yahoo Auctions. My daughter advised against that as she said it would be very sad for me if no one wanted to buy it. Doesn't matter, this exericise gave us something to talk about in a fun way today.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Last night's owl drawing

I like this owl. I am making so many drawings because I intend to paint it one day. Isn't my daughter's baby owl simply adorable?