Friday, December 29, 2006

Paint with Maamor

It was an enlightening Boxing Day, Dec 26. Former classmates of Mr Maamor Jantan's (picture) course at National Art Gallery (which is now closed for renovation) met up to have an outdoor painting session at the Jalan Conlay Craft Centre's Artists' Colony.

I won't show you what we drew but I will show you what the master drew. One of them is a picture I took of the scenery. The other, Maamor's characteristic piece - a sketch of course.

This painting was done under a pergola, looking out from the north side of the centre. It is a good place to paint and of many efforts the Government has done towards promoting arts, this is one of the best areas - quiet and inspiring. It's the least the government could do to help struggling artists.

Perhaps the Laman Seni which was stopped because the National Art Gallery is undergoing repairs can be held here. This is one perfect place and centrally easily accessible. Hopefully our Minister takes note of this aspect.

There are not many good places left for the arts, especially fine art. Just look at the photo and tell me you dont agree with me that this is one great place to paint to your heart's content.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Underwater Magic

This is the work of Ajis Mohamad, Malaysia's foremost underwater scenery artist. Ajis's work has a magical quality about it and if you have not dived before, you will not be able to fathom the realistic aspscts of his intricate pieces. This is one of his unfinished underwater scenes which I came across at Artists Colony at Conlay Craft Centre in Kuala Lumpur. Look at the turtle which appears to be gliding through the crystal clear water with sunlight streaming through from above. On the sandy bottom, reflections of light created by the undulating surface of the crystal clear water is caught in this intricate oil piece. Ajis can be found at the Artists Colony on most days when he doesn't go diving.
You can learn more about this artist here..

Monday, October 30, 2006

A Very Functional Brush Bag Indeed

It started when I discovered how difficult it is to carry a load of brushes while painting outdoors.

First I tried the traditional bamboo mat brush holders but soon found out that it was not practical. Wet watercolour brushes and bamboo is a bad combination. Moulds grow and destroy expensive brush hairs.

Then I tried using plastic tube brush holders. They were functional - until I started misplacing the cap and losing them. Of course, when I dump wet brushes into them and locked the cap (and forgot to take them out again to dry first before storage), water percolates within the tube. And the brush hair again gets damaged.

So, out of frustration and having tried so many brush holders, not to mention the money spent, I decided to make this from a special waterproof canvas. The outer side is canvas and the inside waterproof rubber-plastic kind of material.

I made it with pockets for individual brushes and depending on the number of brushes I need. It can be folded or rolled, at your convenience with a nice velcro strap to boot.

Because the brushes are not locked within, there is always a constant flow of air through the bag, reducing the risk of fungal/mould growth.

The waterproof material, tough as well, has allowed me more than five years of punishing use. And it has been a great invention - one which I have made for friends and they have introduced it to their artist friends all over. This has been a very functional brush bag indeed! But the nice thing about this invention is that it is handy and you can keep quite a lot of brushes within - more than you will ever need when painting outdoors.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Laman Seni - Postponed Until Further Notice

I heard about it a month ago - that the monthly Art Mart, Laman Seni, at the National Art Gallery will be postponed indefinitely. Attempts to get answers have not been successful. However, the first Saturday of October proved the rumours right - the event is no longer held at the compound of the National Art Gallery.

The closure of this art event is a sad thing - especially for artists who had participated in the year-old monthly mart. From my observation, it was also a gathering for artists and for intending collectors to browse for new talents.

But the greatest benefit must have gone to the National Art Gallery for I am sure, the total traffic garnered through all the past Laman Senis, would have been more that what the centre would have attracted since it moved to Persiaran Titiwangsa from its earlier abode opposite the KL Railway Station.

But this must also be said: That the organisation of Laman Seni, unsupervised, would have become yet another pasar malam or a flea market at best.

In the last few installments, one could see that the number of knick-knack traders (those selling anything from sandals to shawls) have overtaken that of artists. Although the definition of art is subjective, I think the organisers should have limited the common, flea-mart traders' participation. They would have drawn crowd, no doubt, but allowing the proliferation of such trading trend would have reduced the status of an art mart to that of a flea market.

Another aspect is the promotion of the monthly event. Except for banners lining the roads to the venue, the monthly mart is not much known about. Publicity came by word of mouth and the fact that the venue is 'out-of-the-way' also did little to help promote it.

Perhaps the organisers have shelved it for a post-mortem, to see how this event can be improved. If this is the case, then it is all well and good for art and the artists colony. Then the monthly art mart can be brought back and made successful this time. The city is not without arts lovers, otherwise the Laman seni would not have survived so long.

- Oil paintings being offered at Laman seni.
Bottom - Need sandals? Check them out at Laman Seni.

Book Review: Painting from Photographs

Cameras have become a necessary equipment in an artist's bag and photos have become quite an indispensible tool especially when climatic conditions do not allow one to complete one's paintings outdoors.

Although I know many artists do not like to use photographs for their paintings, I think this "evil" should be accepted as part of technology and the evolution of art form.

In this book Patrick Seslar has shown how one can paint from photographs. Quite interesting are how he captures the lights and shade, including several pieces of good advice on flowers as well.

This is one of the few books which I think can help you understand the nuances of watercolour medium, especially if you paint quite a bit from photographs. Whether the photos serve as your references from stard till finish or as a complement to complete your outdoor sessions.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Stadthuys Clock Tower in the Sun

This is the Stadthuys Clock Tower in the heart of Malacca historical city. I have just painted this after a long hiatus. The sun is coming from the right and the time is mid-morning. I am just experimenting with easy, relaxed strokes.
Painted 16 Sept 2006

Friday, August 11, 2006

Yacht in the Harbour

This is a painting of a yacht resting in the harbour. It is done is very loose style after I was inspired by one of John Singer Sargeant's works. I was experimenting with something totally new and attention was paid to strokes of vibrant colours, especially lemon yellow and vermillion.
I think one of the best ways a painter, a watercolour painter, can do for himself is to forget to be too mechanical in his/her painting. Don't allow pure logic to rule the brush and just paint what is before them. This will result in a loose and relaxed style.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Still River Runs Deep

How's that for inspiration? Can art be inspiring? Can watercolour art be inspiring? Well, I think it can. Take a look at this piece. See how calm the surroundings are. The undisturbed reflection of the river flowing through secondary jungle. Did you hear the birds sing? There is no wind. Just cool surroundings. Makes you wish you were here, right? So peaceful and quiet. Nature at its best!

I was inspired by the water flowing in that river. Only watercolour can give this kind of effect. Only watercolour can capture of water because of its transparency. Hope you like this one.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Young Coconuts by the Seaside

I painted this sometime ago at the famed Tanjung Bidara. I was trying to capture the bright sunlight streaming through from top and the young coconuts on a very hot day. The beach is simplified, with some greenery jutting into the sea.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Red boat by the river

Have not been painting the past few weeks. Work got to me - arrrgh! Anyway, here is the latest. A very quick sketch of a red boat set against a tributary of a river. This watercolour piece took me less than 30 minutes in total. Special attention was given to the skies and the solitary coconut tree.

I was trying to capture its form in the wind. One of the most difficult things a watercolourist faces when painting Malaysian seaside scenery is to get the coconut tree leaves/fronds right. This one is affected by the strong breeze, and the form is rather loose.

The trees at the distance are painted in light grey-blue, providing a stark contrast with the blue skies which was painted wet on wet. The red boat is to provide contrast and centre of focus.

This was a scene at the riverside in Kemaman, Terengganu

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Meet Rafie Abdul Rahman - The Smiling Artist

I got to know En Rafie a year ago when I assisted him in putting up his stall at the monthly art bazaar - Laman Seni - at the National Art Gallery. I was attracted to his 'theoretically-correct' watercolours and we spent sometime discussing art, particularly watercolours.

His children having grown up, he now has more time on his hands to paint. He retired from his profession as a building supervisor several years ago, I was told. Today, he paints, exhibits and gives classes to children and adult.

En Rafie is a self-trained artist with lots of experience. From the old school, his works have been collected by renowned galleries. Apart from watercolours, he also does Chinese brush and oils. However, I find that his watercolour pieces are his best and remarkably vibrant. As you can see from this piece which he called 'Jungle Scene' which he painted while manning his stall at Putrajaya's Laman Seni recently.

The painting, according to him, was almost spoilt but despite it being a watercolour medium, his vast experience has managed to salvage it and turn it into an enviable work of art.

En Rafie also gives watercolour classes and if you like to be under his tutelage, let me know.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

What do you do when inspirations dry up?

As a painter, this is one of the most dreaded moments. For some reason or the other, there will come a time when you simply cannot put your thoughts on paper and turn that observation into a piece of art that you used to.

It can follow a personal crisis or during a particularly stressful period that concerns your working life. This is especially true when you are working full time and painting part-time. So what do you do?

In my personal experience, when you are faced with such a time, the best thing is to lay off your painting sets a while, maybe for a day or two. It will be a good thing not to force youself to paint because if you do, and the work comes out bad, you will be more disappointed with it than if you had not drawn or painted anything. And it just might be the trigger that you could abandon your work, for good.

On the extreme side of it, if you did not paint during a lull period, you might become too lazy to pick up the brush again, and end up abandoning your greatest love of all. Which is sad.

So, as a watercolourist, what do you do? Or rather, as an artist, when is your next logical step?

For me, I don't know about you and your methods may differ greatly, I normally change to sketchings and doodles. Sometimes, I even get hold of some pastel colours and start doing doodles as I would with watercolour of the things I see.

I would never pay much attention to the work, just sketching and doodling as I go, capturing only the shapes and colours, paying no special attention to getting everything right. This way, I found out, keeps my drawing instincts intact. It may come out as a work or art, or it may turn out to be rubbish.

Either way, you exercise your thoughts and keep them in good shape despite having a lull period. And when you have gained proper perspective to your woes, you will easily pick up your brush and paint that masterpiece again. Believe me, it works.

Have a good day - painting or otherwise!

Technorati Tags: art, watercolour,instruction,lessons

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Book Review: Painting Weathered Buildings in Pen Ink & Watercolour

This is one great book for beginning artists to painting pen and wash techniques. When you are not painting, and one rainy days, get hold of this book and read it cover to cover.

Claudia Nice shows you the various means of painting watercolour using the pen and wash techniques, from old barns to light houses; from old barn doors to moss-filled masonry.

The author covers her subject well, teaching the simple techniques like scratching the paper to show highlights to mixing dark washes to depict the building storm by the sea. Nice also mentions quite a bit on brushes as well as the colours used.

Best of all, she covers the subject of wooden subjects, from broken barn doors to timber fencing and aged wooden shakes. She teaches you how to paint the grey undercoat (and how to mix the colours) to inking the lines to depict wood grains.

I especially like the stonework part - a subject many of us painters would find difficult to paint. Here the author shows how easy it can be by obeying some simple rules.

This book can be obtained from local bookstores but is rare. However, there are two versions. Mine is the hardcover one which costs quite a bit. If you can't afford it, go for the softcover one.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Still Life in Watercolours

This is a painting (left) which I did many years ago, a still life subject of a bunch of banana and some chillies for contrast. The green fruit is a 'jambu air'.

Below, at right, is the photograph of the scene taken from another angle.

This piece was done in 2003 at a painting class conducted by art master Tang Tuck Kan at the Petronas Art Gallery at KLCC.

I almost forgot about this painting until I stumbled upon it again during spring cleaning.

Sometimes it is interesting to see one's progress in painting when one stumbles upon an old work.

I think many artists share the same view - and many more, after they have become successful, try to locate their paintings of old. Some of them successful in reacquiring their old paintings, sometimes disappointed in the process. But all that cannot be helped - artists need to eat and live too. Many sold their early works, albeit cheap, and then lived to regret it. But that is part of their life. A good artist needs to fill his stomach too, at whatever cost.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Batu Caves on Thaipusam Day in Watercolour

If you have been to Batu Caves (the largest limestone cave complex in the region) during Thaipusam, a Hindu religious festival, and have gone up to the Cave Temple after climbing the 272 steps, you will recognise this scenery. This is the second level stairway to the Cave Temple. I painted this out of a photo, and lots of darks were used (mixed from blues, reds, and greens). The smoky atmosphere is not so well captured, I'm afraid. But I will paint one more, this time even bigger than this 30cm by 45cm piece.

Painted June 23, 2006.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Palm Trees in Watercolour

This is a painting of three palm trees completed just moments ago. The paint has dried and I think I have it photographed and uploaded. As you can see, I am trying out the palm fronds and the skies, to see if the colours work out realistically at a distance. This is a miniature painting, about 4.5 inches width by 12 inches (or so) in height. It is a typical scene of a fisherman's house by a cove. The painter is on elevated ground, looking down at an angle.

Painted June 21, 2006

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Night at Village

This is done in a very relaxed style. It is a scene at night, of a traditional village house made of timber. The yellow lighting is from a hurricane lamp as such houses are sometimes not linked by electricity supply. The roofing is made of attap (a kind of palm) and the entire house, of timber.

Herein lies the danger. Sometimes the kerosene lamp is run over by the house cat or if it falls from the hanger during strong winds, the house will be ablaze in minutes. And many lives have been lost thus.

Thankfully, nowadays such houses are powered by electricity.

This painting is a record of my experience living in such a house once.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Putrajaya Bridge in Watercolour

This piece was done from a photograph. What I merely created was capture the colours and tonal values. It is a painting of a bridge over the Putrajaya Lake. the arches are beautiful and so are the red and green flowering plants planted on both sides of the bridge which you can see overhanging from the sides. The man in the canoe is paddling into the archway.

Painted June 16, 2006

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Lighthouse in Watercolour

This is a picture of Cape Hatteras lighthouse which was inspired by a photograph in a book. It was an one of the exercises I do daily after I get off from work so that I get the feel. In other words, to keep my fingers nimble and the brushes pliable. It was painted in half an hour.

Painted June 13, 2006

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Portrait in Watercolour

One of the biggest problem in painting portraits in watercolour is getting the skin colour right. It took me quite a while to get this right and even so, I am not too happy with the skin tone. I did this is several layers, both for the highlights and shadows on the face as well as the hair.

Painted June 08, 2006

Monday, June 05, 2006

Chinatown by Night

This is my second attempt to paint night. This one however, is in the city. This is a familiar Chinatown scene, with yellow and red lanterns and buntings. I think everywhere around the world, the familiar scene evokes memories of a stroll down Chinatown, especially near the Lunar New Year celebration period. It was such a joy to see the colours come alive. The white-green patch you see at top right is a small alleyway which is lit by fluorescent lamp - colour of the light reflected off the lime plaster cement wall.

Painted June 05, 2006.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Venetian Waterway II

No, this is not the second painting I did. I saw this in one of JS Sargeant's works and decided to paint the scene.

The aim was to do it as relaxed and as carefree as possible and capture the colours to the best of my ability.

The rendition of this scenery is of a totally different style which I am used to.

Painted June 04, 2006

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Clock Tower - Townscape in Watercolour

This is one painting which was painted in less than 2 hours, A3 size. It is a townscape of the Malacca clock tower, near to the Stadhuys Complex in the heart of the historic city. It was drawn out of a postcard. I have always dreaded drawing buildings and painting them. This is no exception. But I am getting the hang of it. It is not tough after all.

Painted May 26, 2006.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Old Boat By Fishing Village

This scene is self-explanatory. Done in watercolours in a very different style. Attention was paid to the linear strokes on the ground, depicting the unlevelled beach.

Painted in April 2006.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Night Scene in Watercolour

Prior to this, I have never attempted to paint nights because I never thought it would be so beautiful and ricj. This is a painting of nightscene at a fishing village on stilts. You find these sort of villages along the coast of Malaysia, particularly over mangrove swamplands. The houses are built on stilts away from the high-tide line. I am indebted to prominent artist Maamor Jantan for his guidance in this painting. Painted in early May 2006.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Fishing trawler in watercolour

This is a painting of a fishing trawler that is used in Kedah, a northern state near to Thailand. The registration number (KNF) denotes the state which issues the fishing licence, which is Kedah.

This is a high deck trawler that is used in deep-sea fishing and as you can see, the trawler is going out to sea while another trawler heads upriver (at right).

Because of the strong waves along the Kedah coast (facing the Andaman seas), trawlers such as this, is kept deep up river and inland to protect them from the elements.

Painted May 20, 2006.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Watercolour Doodle - Malacca's A Famosa

When the going gets tough, the tough gets going by doodling. It was one of those days, no inspiration no matter how hard you sit on that stool So, I decided to take the newspaper, grab a picture of interest, and paint from there. No planning, just painting the colours and shapes. And the result: a doodle!

Monday, May 15, 2006

Enchanting Watercolours - Misty Morning By The Sea

I did not intend this scene to be like this, with an air of mystery hanging in the horizon. I wanted to paint a seaside house of a fisherman. The fisherman has gone to sea, only his dinghy remains behind. The flame of the forest are in full bloom, sparking a fine contrast with the casuarina trees that dot the lane in the horizon. The sea is calm and the air cold.

Sometimes when you start painting, you dont know what to expect. In wet-on-wet techniques, sometimes the result can be mystifying, nay, enchanting. That is what makes watercolour so exciting - so unpredictable and so damn challenging when mistakes are not kindly tolerated.

This is a peaceful scene by the sea, one I would like to build my house at when I retire!

Anyone wanna join me?

Friday, May 05, 2006

No Fish Today

Life deals a tough hand for most fishermen, wherever they are.

The fishing boat is his life and his world. It is the only means he can make a living and feed his family.

In the months when the seas are not that generous, and the weather unkind, he has to remain land bound and pray for a better day.

If his boat is broken, and if it is beyond his skills to have it sea bound again, then life will be very tough. His only choice is to fish from ashore, sometimes ridiculously, by using his fishing rod.

This fisherman is in that dilemma. No fish today. With his fishing rod slung across his shoulders, he makes his way ashore, nary a fish in hand. How is he going to feed his family? Will tomorrow be kinder? These are the questions that race across his mind, as he takes a heavy step towards home.

This is the mood I have set for this painting. I don't know if you like it. If it speaks out to you, let me know. Let your friends know, too. And thanks for viewing.

Painted May 04, 2006.

Watercolouring - Painting What You See

One of the greatest challenge facing a new painter is finding a suitable subject to paint. I have been asked, often, what is the best subject to paint: still life or scenery.

To me, it doesn't really matter. If you like it, anything can be a subject. The important thing is you must have a passion in wangting to paint just about anything and I am sure anything is interesting enough if you set your eyes on it to capture your subject, be it people at the market, a lone fisherman in his moment of soliquy as he wait for the first bite or even a tray of fruits on the altar.

My approach is usually to take observe anything and imagine how I would paint it. If I were to have a pencil (or pen) with me, a piece of paper or my notepad, I will immediately sketch out the forms and the colour values. I think this is how painters, beginners especially, should start.

By improving one's drawing skills, sharpening one's observation powers, can one ever hope to paint well. Painting is but putting what is before you in paper, at least that is what I think is for me. The tough part is drawing. Many paintings have been a casualty of poor drawing techniques.

Take a look at some of the greatest artists and I would like to quote John Singer Sargeant whose watercolour works are exquisitely simple but masterpieces. Sargeant was very detailed in his sketches as you can see in some of his works.

Pictures: Sargeant's Study for Apollo and the Muses (top right) and Game of Chess (top left) available at the Adelson Galleries.

Nearer to home, we have Yong Mun Sen, (1896 - 1962) who has sometimes been referred to as the “father of Malaysian art”, a title I think he truly deserves.

Yong, whose life's works were depicted in his tribute exhibition catalogue by the Penang Art gallery in the late 90s, was also a meticulous painter who has a knack of recording his subjects in detailed drawings.

Be it rubber tappers at work or a tin dredge, Yong has successfully documented various aspects of Malaysian life in his art.

One of his exquisite works, the Dredge, is now in the collection of the Petronas Art Gallery. The piece, entitled Sungai Melaka (1953) (above) , depicts the artist's fascination with life - in this case the daily routine of traders along the Malacca River after the war.

As a beginning painter, I think it is good to start by cultivating this drawing habit. Only when you can draw well, can you paint well.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Is it the craftsman, his tool or his skill?

I have just seen some of the greatest works of John Singer Sargeant (American Painter, 1856-1925). His watercolours were exquisite. I wonder what type of paper and paint he used.

Couple of years ago, when I picked up watercolour again, I came into contact with a group of enthusiastic watercolourists at a forum. The topic was techniques and materials. Subjects came into play centered around paint to use and what paper to buy, etc. Of course, there were questions on brushes, too.

The elderly artist who was the sole panelist surprised everyone when he said you could use practically anything to paint as long as it gives you the pleasure since art, particularly watercolour, is not about using the priciest paper nor paint nor brushes to craft your works.

"It is about your skill and your understanding of the medium, both the colour, paper, brushes, etc," said the artist. "And as you gain understanding of all the materials, you will develop your skill in your craft. And when you do that, you will turn rubbish into gold."

It was an enlightening advice but was met by laughters all round. Some of the sceptical ones even went to the extent to whisper that perhaps the old artist did not want to share his secrets - hence the excuse.

The came the bombshell. The old artist diverted from the talk and took out his painting set - a compartmentalised dinner tray (his palette), some Japanese poster colours, a beat up brush and some newspapers.He poured some water into a small plastic container and proceeded to paint.

Then he returned his brush into his bag, rolled a piece of newspaper, dipped one end into water and plucked it off to make an uneven end.

Then he started dipping that wet end of a newspaper into paint and started painting. It was an impressionic painting of a swamp taken from a photograph. What started as a mess turned into a piece of art, a watercolour piece, to the amazement of the forum attendants. The painting was purchased by one of the attendants who apparently attracted to the piece. He paid USD 300 for it. Did he see something all of us missed?

Everytime I find myself in a bind over what paper or paint to use, I fall back on the thought of the incident. Is it skill or material that contributes to art? You tell me.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Serene Lake

This piece was an experiment in capturing images of rocks underwater. The scene was a section of the Taman Negara (National Park). Strong colours were used so that I can feature the submerged rocks.

Painted April 28, 2006

Thursday, April 27, 2006

This Old Boat - A Study of Light and Shadow in Watercolour

This old boat was found abandoned on the beach. The portion near to the right is the back of the boat, and the small piece L-shaped piece is the rudder. It is a simple boat design. The protruding piece with a black hole in the centre is where the stem of the rudder steering is embedded in.

From the design, it would be a rowboat with perhaps three or more passenger. Why it was abandoned, I am not sure. Perhaps it has outlived its usefulness?

The clump of tree root washed ashore was painted into at lower left to provide contrast to the more or less structured form of the boat.

So, what do you think? Comments welcome.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Fisherman at Work - How do artists keep their skill?

This is an imaginary piece based on a photograph. It was a picture of an old fishing boat, by the beaches of Kemaman in Terengganu.

The fisherman, the palm trees, and the figure in the distance, are all added in. The sunset, too.

As you can see, I have fared not too well again. (Well, if you have anything to say, drop me a comment, huh?)

It's funny but after such a short time of not painting, every step is a painstaking effort. I wonder how professional artists cope with not painting or drawing. After say six months of not working with your painting, how do you start? Where do you start?

Pray tell.

I know of one artist who carries a technical pen in his shirt pocket everywhere he goes. Every minute he could glean out of his day, he draws. On envelopes. On discarded bus tickets. On catalogues he gathered at Immigration check points during his travel. On anything that permits.
And all these, bits and pieces of his existence and encounters with life's realities, are translated into drawings which he may or may not paint later.

Is this how artists keep their wits about them? And skill too? Use your skill or lose them to time?

This piece was painted on April 23.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Kelantan Traditional Fishing Boat

Did you know that the Kelantanese traditional fishing boats are the most colourful and they have the loveliest designs?

These fishing boats are painstakingly built from memory by skilled boatsmen who learn the trade from their forefathers.

During the monsoon months when the sea is too rough for them to go out, these fishermen cum boatmen spend their days working on the intricate patterns on the body of the boat, ie. the hull. Strips of colour, laid down in perfect harmony, one by one.

This is a very simplistic drawing of one such boat which can be seen in Kelantan, particularly Pantai Dasar Sabak. I drew this one using Pentel oil pastels and this is the first time I am using them, so excuse the roughness.

Drawn April 17, 2006.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Where can you get good watercolour materials?

IF you have been browsing the local art supplies market, I am sure you have narrowed down to two cities where you can get good watercolours stuff. One is Penang and another, Kuala Lumpur.

However, Kuala Lumpur, unlike Penang, has been traditionally disadvantaged by the limited by the number of good art suppliers. Recently, however, I was pleasantly surprised by the emergence of another art shop in the heart of Kuala Lumpur.

Art Friend, located at the UE3 complex along Jalan Loke Yew, towards Cheras side, is the latest addition to the local art supply scene.

I have been to this place and checked out some of the prices of material, from paper to watercolours. And I think they are reasonably priced here.

If you are a fan of Daler-Rowney, I think you will be pleasantly surprised by the range available here, especially where watercolours are concerned.

Apart from the wide range of pan-colours, it also sells tubes - and the price is pretty competitive at below RM7.00 for the student colours.

Despite the rise in other prices, I am glad to say, this shop has decided to keep prices low for artists who are already hard hit by the price hikes in their lives.

Art Friend too has other items like special water buckets (from RM5.00 to RM15.00), box-easels from RM60 above, papers of various poundage and prices, and other watercolour implements.

And what makes it unique, Art Friend also sells other art stuff, from painting to, well, wall painting. Crafts implements are also sold here.

There are other art-related materials sold here, from wall stencils to fashion beads. You will be amazed. And the good thing is, the prices are kept low.

And if there is one artist's friend, then it is Art Friend - and hopefully it stays that way.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Refreshing Watercolours by Calvin Chua

In his preface to the catalogue of artist Calvin Chua Cheng Koon’s solo, currently being at the Balai Berita (NST) in Jalan Riong, the chairman of the Malaysian Watercolour Organisation Dr Wong Seng Tong described the artist as “the most talented, takes art seriously, works deligently and participates actively in the art scene.”

And it is not difficult to see why at Chua’s exhibition. One marvels at the almost realistic images of buffaloes, logs, old structures, statues and nature Chua has managed to capture in both oil and watercolour.

While both his oil works and watercolour pieces are equally striking, one cannot help being drawn to the latter. Chua is truly a master (he taught at his alma-mater the Kuala Lumpur College of Art before going professional) when it comes to rendering the subjects he sees around him – from old vases to morning glories. His strokes are confident and bold, and his subjects are captured to the finest detail, almost to perfection.

Calvin Chua was born in 1961 in Kedah and received training at the KLCA, graduating with a Dip. in Fine Art. He is now a full-time artist and member of various watercolour organisations including the Singapore Watercolour Society. Since 1982, he has participated in various exhibitions in Malaysia and abroad, for practically almost every year. He collections have been collected within the country and abroad.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Can you learn watercolours via CD?

Can you learn watercolour via CDs? Well I think you can. Not in the old days when lessons take ages to arrive and the pictures come static, ie from photos and drawings.

Today you can. With the advancement of technology spurred by Internet growth, softwares allow tutors to record "live instructions" in CDs or live-streaming via various computer-friendly softwares. You may be a thousand mile away and it makes no difference as you can learn almost anything - as if you are right there beside the teacher as the art class unflod before your eyes, in full motion picture format.

And on the Internet, you get plenty of CDs offering to teach you about painting, but where watercolours are concerned, I can recommend one which is really unique and offers great value for money.

If you are a beginner to watercolour (or someone who wants to go back to it), check out Peter Saw's Interactive Watercolour website.

Veteran watercolourist Peter Saw's Interactive Watercolour CD offers various levels of learning experience - from beginners to medium-advanced learners who seek to master this fluid medium. The trees in the picture are among the lessons - doodles and actually painting - in Peter's Interactive Watercolour.

I have seen this CD, used it and recommend it to anyone seeking to learn the finer strokes of British watercolour.

For beginners, especially, I think it is a good value for money. Peter takes you through a whole series of painting several objects in various styles.

What is interesting is that Peter uses movie files to get his lessons across. And in watercolour, this is priceless. Being shown how a painting is done, or errors corrected, helps a lot in the learning process and progressing from that.

One thing that makes Peter's CD offering unique is the lively forum which he has set up for his "students" - you learn from the CD and you meet other users . You get to ask questions - including directing them to the master himself. And he answers them!

Perhaps the most fantastic thing about this arrangement is that you can show your works to your peers who are your critiques. And here in lies the uniqueness of this programme - with each stroke you learn from Peter's instruction, you gain self-confidence by analysing your work and allowing others to analys

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Water under the Bridge

This is another of my new pieces, drawn from memory.

Sometimes things have a strange way of cropping up from your memory and when you get the chance to record them, visually, this is the result. It can be interesting or a disaster or both.

I am not sure where I saw the scene before but it was quite vivid so I thought I give it a try.

Painted April 2, 2006

Friday, March 31, 2006

Make your own water container

Don't we all wish we have a compartmentalised water container that we can keep our brushes (in water) in one place and the dipping water free of them? Well, I have come up with this piece which I find pretty useful. And I am going to teach you how to make it. It does not require extensive knowledge nor cost a lot.

I think where ever you are, chances are that you can find the materials - a used detergent container (pictured left) and the finished product at left.

Get a plastic container as shown. Cut the tops off in two areas. First cut the 'handle' area at the back which will serve as a brush holding area. The cut out the bigger front section for you to dip your brushes, and you will have an organiser-water container. See the picture at right.

Note that the brushes will be dipped in the same pool of water and some of you may not like it. I feel that brushes kept in water helps to keep the hairs soft and supple.

This simple contraption is not only cheap but hardy and functional as well. Hope you will find it as useful as I have.