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Monday, September 28, 2009

Singapore Art Show 2009 - Art In The Works

I was involved in a 2-day art workshop/demo event held in conjunction with the Singapore Art Show 2009, called Art In The Works at Raffles City Shopping Centre, in downtown Singapore, on 12 and 13 September

The objective was to promote various forms of art and to engage the public to appreciate and take part in visual art. There were chinese calligraphy, chinese seal carving, oil, acrylic, pencil & charcoal drawing, Indian sand art, glass art, and of course, watercolour (being represented by Singapore Watercolour Society).

On the first day, I did a 2-hour demo of a landscape painting, based on a plein air piece I did recently. Thereafter, my former teacher, mentor and good friend, Mr Loy Chye Chuan painted a close-up of an old staircase.

Here are some pics taken on the first day.

Javier came in the morning to help out with the setting-up

Daddy, where do I place this book?

Yours truly
Almost Done
Mr Loy Chye Chuan at his best!

The completed demo painting by Loy Chye Chuan

Kids having fun at the watercolour workshop

On the second day, I did another demo, painting the scene of Boat Quay along Singapore River, while Mr Seah Kam Chuan did a demo of window shutters of a peranakan styled shophouse. I will post the photos taken on the second day as soon as I get the photos from the photographer.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Plein Air - Lower Peirce Reservoir, Singapore

I went out for a plein air session with my artist friends from Singapore Watercolour Society last Sunday, and I'm glad I did as it's a fabulous day. Clear breezy sunny day always makes me happy, unless it gets too hot and humid.

We decided to paint at Lower Peirce Reservoir, which is one of the oldest reservoirs in Singapore and the surrounding trees around the areas could be more than hundred years old. Singapore is definitely more well-known for its concrete jungle of shopping malls and high-rise buildings. So, it is great that I could do a landscape plein air today.

Here are some pics of the reservoir and the surrounding forest.

An old pavilion at the reservoir

It's a lovely sunday morning

Here's the painting location

Yours truly with today's effort

The final product - Half Sheet of Fabriano Artistico (21" x 14")

Hope you like it. Comments and critiques are welcome as usual.

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Saturday, August 01, 2009

Painting Trip to Tanjung Pinang, Bintan

I visited Tanjung Pinang, located at the southwestern coast of Bintan Island together with 11 other members of Singapore Watercolour Society from 23rd to 25th July. Here are the day-to-day account of our little adventure. 

Day 1 (Thu 23 July 2009) - Singapore to Tanjung Pinang, Bintan 

Meet-up at Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal at 10:30am for the ferry ride to our destination. Everyone arrived on time and soon we were issued with tickets and boarding passes, and thanks to the wonderful service by the ferry company, our Indonesian Immigration white cards were duly printed nicely. Safe us from the hassle of writing on a tiny card on the bumpy ferry ride later. We had a simple meal at the terminal cafe while waiting for the scheduled ride...

SWS members waiting for check-in time at the ferry terminal

(Note: The couple on the most right-hand side and the lady with her back facing camera, 2nd from left, are not with our group)

The two-hour ferry ride was uneventful. It was smoother than I had expected thanks to the perfect weather that day... 

Indonesian time is 1 hour behind Singapore's and to prevent us from confusing each other, we decided to keep following Singapore time. 

Upon reaching the ferry terminal at Tanjung Pinang, our hotel shuttle bus was nowhere to be seen. But as in most places, they are plenty of drivers touting their transport services. So, we hired two drivers with MPVs, large enough to fit in all of us (plus our extra baggages, artists tend to travel with more - boards, papers, brushes, paints, you name it, we got it ) and we were whisked away to our hotel called Hotel Laut Jaya, a mere 10 minutes ride away. Knowing before hand that it only cost us S$25 per night, I wasn't expecting any 5-star luxury. It was budget hotel standard in every sense. It's basic with a small reception counter and a tiny lounge, and it looked pretty old. After doing all the required registration and checking-in, I got a room at the third level, sharing it with a fellow artist. 

What do artists do when they got into their hotel room? Check out the view from the windows, of course! This is what we saw...

The room was OK...  but nothing fantastic. Let's just say that I've stayed in other budget hotel rooms that were in better condition than what we have here. After putting down our bags and freshening up, I quickly took out my sketch book and did a quick drawing of the fishing boats, done within 5 mins from the hotel window.

Soon, it's time to meet up at the lounge below to walk the street of Tanjung Pinang and probably do a sketch or two....

Below are some of the shots taken along the narrow streets of Tanjong Pinang. This place is definitely not on the usual tourist map. As far as I can see, we were the only non-locals for next 3 days...

Soon, we reached a seaside village littered with many houses built on stilts along the coast. The villagers were friendly but apparently curious why a bunch of city dwellers were so interested in their humble home and kept snapping pictures. Some of us also started sketching the scenes that caught our attention. 

Believe me, painterly subject matters were all over the place. On my left, is a beautiful zinc roofed hut with wooden walls. On my right, village kids were playing with each other, and when I look ahead, there were old fishing boats and the sea. Who cares about lousy hotel room when it's the nearest accommodation to this wonderful place!

Here are some of the quick sketches I did on the spot... Not the best of artworks I must say, but it helps with the composition and design when planning for a larger painting later.

I took more than 100 shots in and around this little fishing village for the two hours we spent there! By the time we return to our hotel, it was already past 6:00pm and we were greeted with beautiful golden sunset!

The benefit of using a modified camera tripod as my plein air easel is that I can still use it for photography purpose to shoot night scene with long exposure like above, killing two birds with one stone as the saying goes.

After dinner at the nearby cafe, we retired to our room and called it a day....That's the end of Day 1.

Day 2 - (Fri 24 July 2009) - Tanjung Pinang to Kawal Fishing Village, to Hilltop, back to Tanjung Pinang

Woke up early at 6:00am. Although it was still very dark, I could see there were plenty of dark clouds looming on the horizon.... Our scheduled painting trip to a fishing village is in danger of being cancelled if it rains! 3 more hours to spare, I quickly got out and had a nice morning walk with a few others along the narrow streets where the sidewalks had been converted to a temporary market. What an efficient use of limited space!

Soon, the heaven opened up and we had to run for cover! Just in time for our breakfast, so we ran to a nearby coffee shop and had a cuppa and roti prata with egg.

After half an hour or so, the heavy rain subsided to little drizzle and we rushed back to our hotel and got ourselves ready for our 9:00am transportation to Kawal Fishing Village... We waited at the lounge area but they didn't turn up!! Asked the hotel reception who booked the transportation on our behalf and he said they are coming in 10 minutes.... 20 minutes had gone and no vehicle was in sight. Fed up and angry, we told him to forget it, and our group leader went out to the street to look for another driver, and managed to find one driver with a minivan. So off we went, 12 grown men packed like sardines in a minivan meant for max. 8 passengers!

This was by far the funniest occasion of the trip as we chatted and joked all the way to our destination and back!

After 40 minutes with cramped butts and limbs, we arrived at the fishing village. But due to the heavy downpour earlier, the whole place was wet and the sky was still very cloudy and gloomy, and it was still drizzling on and off....Oh well, despite the not-so-desirable weather, there were plenty of subjects for painting so I went about scouting for good painting subject with decent shelter so that I won't get caught if it rained again... and found this.

Here's my plein air work - Half Sheet of Fabriano Artistico 14" x 21"
90% done on location, 10% touch up and highlight with white gouache back in hotel. 

Not my best work, but I'm happy I painted something given the poor weather condition and the effort taken to reach this place... I completed the above plein air in about three hours. Packed up and ordered a plate of instant fried noodles at a small canteen just nearby which became our meeting point for the day. Other artists were still busy painting while some others had done theirs and had gone to other areas of the village to do sketches and taking photographs. 

Still 2 hours to spare, so I walked around the areas and took some photos.
Here are some of them...

While waiting for the mini-van to pick us up to return to our hotel, some of us did quick sketches of the grocery store opposite the canteen where we had gathered. Here's my effort...

On the way back to our hotel, we detoured to a hilltop to have a bird's eye view of the whole town. Our initial plan was to do some sketches or even another watercolour painting if time permits but some folks were feeling tired. So we decided just to take photos and go back to hotel.

Here's the view from the hilltop...

... and we decided to pose for a group photo with our efforts of the day.

We reached the hotel after another 30 minutes of butts and limps cramping ride. Everyone has one hour to rest and freshen up before we meet again for dinner.... 

Well, since I didn't feel too tired... and it was still bright outside although almost nearing sunset time, I did a pencil drawing of the scene outside my hotel room window before having a shower and meeting the rest of the group downstairs....

This is drawn on half sheet of Fabriano Artistico. I'll probably paint it soon....

Day 3 (Sat 25 July 2009) - Tanjung Pinang back to Singapore

Our return ferry back to Singapore is scheduled at 2:30pm, so we still have half a day here. It's free and easy today, no pre-arranged activity, so to make use of the remaining time here, a few of us decided to wake up early at 6:00am and go back to the fishing village we visited on Day 1, to do a plein air painting.

By 6:30am, I was all set and when I stepped out of the hotel, this breathtaking scene greeted us... 

We ended up spending the next few minutes admiring this awesome sunrise. 
After getting our stomach filled with breads, local noodles and cups of coffee, we splitted and headed out on our own to find new inspirations to paint.

Along the way, I took some more photos of the seaside village...

Apart from the satellite dishes protruding on some of the rooftops and the motorbikes, who would have thought that these are pictures taken in the 21st century? It could have been 1950s or even earlier!

I walked around the village looking for a good spot and it didn't take long before I spotted this scene...

Just as I unpacked my bag and started drawing, a small crowd had gathered to watch what I was doing. A fellow artist who was taking photos nearby saw this and quickly took a snap.... 

Thumbs-up from a local

It took me about 3 hours from start to finish...
Here's the second plein air painting of the trip.

Half-sheet of Fabriano Artistico 14" x 21"

I finished the painting slightly before noon, just enough time to grab a quick lunch, head back to our hotel for a shower and checked out.

Our transport arrived on time (finally, they got something right) and drove us all to the ferry terminal for our scheduled ferry ride at 2:30pm back to Singapore. We arrived around 5:00pm and that concluded our fantastic and enjoyable trip to this little island. 

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

WIP - Balinese Ceremony

I have noticed that usually there were many street scenes, landscapes and florals in most of the art exhibitions that I have taken part in, while portraits and figure paintings were less frequently represented, so for the upcoming SWS Annual Exhibition this November, I've decided to paint a figure painting, not one, not two, not ten... but at least 30? I've lost count.

This is a religious ceremony in Bali called "Odalan" where devotees were kneeling down to offer prayers to celebrate the anniversary of the temple. This is going to be the most challenging painting I have ever attempted not because I've ventured outside my comfort zone (street scenes and landscape) as I've done portrait and figures before, but because there are sooo many of them!

I just hope I have the patience to deal with all of them...

OK, here's the very detailed drawing which I spent almost 3 hours to complete...

Full sheet of Fabriano Artistico Rough Watercolour Paper 300gsm, stretched and stapled to a 20" x 29" strectching frame.

In landscape painting, I'll often start from the sky and work downwards, but for this painting, I decided to focus on the main subjects, ie. the devotees in the foreground. The Balinese are usually tanned, so their skin tones are painted with mixture of burnt sienna, transluscent orange, burnt umber and a touch of cerulean blue. An assortment of colours which include permanent rose, cerulean blue, ultramarine violet, yellow orche, etc. are used for their clothings. 

Here's a close-up shot of the figures...

After that, I added more details to the figures, and gave each of them some hairs on their heads... Ha! Ha!

Next, I painted the various buildings and structures around the scene. This is where I'm back to my comfort zone so I did it pretty quickly. If you're wondering what are those things in yellow, there are yellow-coloured cloths which were draped around the temple to celebrate the event. 

Then, I painted the sky and trees in the background, which were done quickly and loosely.

Next, I painted the ground with mixture of burnt sienna + cerulean blue + whatever dirty colours left inside my water con

Finally, I finished it off by painting the details, touched up some of the figures and adjusted some of the minor mistakes I found... did you notice that earlier on, there was a brown coloured stain on the middle of the paper? Instead of removing it, I added a pair of sandals to cover it... 
then, I added the shadows and highlights with a touch of white gouache.

Here's the finished painting.

I hope you'd enjoy my step-by-step work-in-progress...  

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