Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Walk Back in Time

On Sunday I took a walk back in time on that familiar road that led me from my grandma's house to school. Almost everything has changed along Tabuan Road since those days in the seventies but in my mind, the row of single storey shops are still there where in one of them, a man and his son sold deep fried fritters from the five foot way. The customers took away the foot-long fritters in a parcel fashioned from yesterday's news and a length of string. There was often a queue of customers waiting for this breakfast delicacy; usually dunked in sweet coffee before that delicious first bite.

Beyond the shops is a tall metal fence, and behind them; the town prison with its barred windows.
Further down the road just as it is about to turn up McDougall Hill, a solitary tree on a triangular piece of land which is the traffic island and local landmark - "sa-kak-po"

On rainy days, my grandmother would drive the neighbour's children and I to school and along the way, she often stops to pick up my class-mates; saving them from a wet walk to class. In that ten- minute drive, the car would fill up with up to half a dozen school children who were just happy to have a break from routine - talking loudly and jostling for space.

Some of my companions this Sunday were equally boisterous and energetic - some young and some not-so-young, scattered throughout the vicinity of my childhood memories in the late afternoon.

The usual highlight of our USK sketch crawls is the sharing of our sketches and a group photo, however this Sunday, this was surpassed by George's pizza treat. I was sitting in front of the supermarket, putting in the line-work when I heard a familiar voice -"Min!, come by and have pizza later, and bring your kids!" George and Rosalind are the chef and owners of The Junk, a popular local restaurant that serves up western favourites in a row of restored Chinese shop houses.

One of the many joys of living in a small-ish city where most people know one another, and are generous and inclusive. I'll give George some of my postcard sketches as payment for the pizzas and beers.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Sketching on-site

Our Urban Sketchers Kuching group is growing in number and I am pleased to see new comers each time we meet. I thought that a few sketching tips might come in handy for their next excursion...

Step 1
Make some marks to determine the limits of your view.

Step 2
Link up the marks with lines to create a perspective; giving your sketch depth of view. Don't worry about details yet. Its about getting the general feel of the place. I take my glasses off and use free flowing strokes to frame the body of the sketch.

Step 3
I add details, shade and tone now (with glasses on).
I decide where the focus is and leave the rest of the sketch loose and vague.
Colours are often added at home and these are used sparingly to suggest rather than to inform.
Some other useful hints
1. On site sketching is about being spontaneous, so be brave and commit line to page, don't erase.
2. Show your viewer the whole street and not just one building, mundane objects like street signs can often enhance your sketch and give it a local flavour.
3. Drawing in people will give your sketch scale and a sense of place.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Room without a view

After our run on Saturday, Sia made some observations about sketching and sketchers in general; about the general lack of imagination regarding the subject of their sketches. "..why draw the hotel room when you can simply open the window and draw what is outside?..."
Well, today I found this sketch that I drew of my room at Bay Hotel Singapore - I did not draw the view outside the windows instead I was more interested in capturing the facilities the hotel designer was able to fit into a space the size of a car park (2.5 x 5.0 m).

view from the bed

the little dots at the side of the sketch represent one metre spacings