Friday, April 21, 2006

Stone painting

After a long lapse of inactivity or inertia, I finally got to hold a paint brush and dabbled with acrylic paints on a nice Saturday morning. I got the opportunity to explore this medium as a result of the Earth Day celebrations at the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve where an artist, Tham Pui San, launched his Stone Painting exhibition and conducted a painting session where he gave us the basics of stone painting and guided us along with much encouragement and joy at the presence of so many people showing an interest in this artistic activity.
First, we were told to paint over a few pieces of stones of different textures to get a feel of what it was like to be painting on stone. I found that the first piece of stone I chose was very smooth and the paint did not try as quickly as I thought it would. Through this experimentation, I found that the darker colour stones with sightly coarser textures were more absorbant of the paint and as a result painting over them gave a good, even finish. Acrylic paint dries very fast and this is a good feature as unlike painting with oil, you can complete the painting in a very short time. Another advantage is that acrylics are water based but feels almost the same as oil.
This is my first piece of stone painting. The artist gave us some drawings of flowers, trees, birds and mushrooms to help us get started. I decided to combine parts of different pictures and to use colours of my imagination instead of realistic colours because I wanted to concentrate on the feel of the brush strokes without having to worry about realism. The white spots on the tree are egrets which are migratory birds that stop over at this bird sanctuary that is made up of mangrove swamps.

Next, I decided that I would like to paint something from the surroundings and outside the room where we were, I looked across a small pond to see the giant leaves of the Torch Ginger plant hanging down gracefully in the morning sunlight. I got rather encouraged by the result.

The third piece I did was the scene outside the room where a boardwalk stretched between the reeds growing in the pond and thick ferns growing on the other side. I wish I had a finer brush to bring out the details the way I saw them.
In this last piece, I got an interesting and unexpected outcome suggested by the artist. He asked me if I had seen aboriginal art in Australia and with that reference, he asked me to try the technique seeing that there was still quite a lot of paint on my palette and the session was drawing to a close. I chose a piece of rounded, white porous stone to get a different experience. Again I wish I had a finer brush so that this painting of a monitor lizard that is common in the wetland reserve will look less patchy.
I am glad I went to this Stone Painting session. It has opened up a new possibility for me in my artistic pursuit and I am really excited by this new way of painting. The artist's stone paintings on exhibition were truly works of art and his passion for art and nature has inspired me to work on making a dream come true.
Details of the Stone Painting at Sungei Buloh:

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