Monthly Archives: June 2015

Club Street in the afternoon

..is lifeless. But that’s not a turn-off. At least not for everybody.

At this ungodly hour, you can have Club Street’s dainty rows of higgledy-piggledy shophouses all to yourself. Empty five foot ways, deserted barstools and straight uninterrupted views all around make for perfect sketching conditions except for the ginormous supply trucks that come by to stock up the watering holes and restaurants so they can wine and dine every last one of their evening revellers. Now whether these hulks will park in front of the very subject you selected after prolonged scouting will depend on the alignment of your stars.

View from a bar at Ann Siang Hill

View from Ninety Four ( a bar) at Club Street

Mine were in perfect constellation. None of the trucks blocked my line of vision. From the barstool of ‘Ninety Four’ I enjoyed unhindered views of Ann Siang Hill. Plus the man in front, resting on the stool, kept fairly still and stayed long enough for me to include him in the scene. Also none of the cars drove off mid-sketch, which is rare. Now if only the bar would open and I could get a drink..wait..it did!

 

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Kindness of Mr. Potato Head

It so happened that on a bright sunny, excruciatingly hot and humid morning, a bunch of sketchers descended on Keong Saik Road and captured the five-footways of its shophouses for three hours of intensive sketching.

Easels were set up, field chairs were pulled out, pigments, palettes, brushes, pens, pencils, charcoal, mounds of Artist grade paper and large plastic mugs of water appeared. Rolls of kitchen towels and packets of tissues were kept by the side. Sunscreen was rubbed, sunglasses were donned and stretchy UV protecting sleeves were worn on arms. Wide brimmed hats and baseball caps crowned every head.

Potato Head Folk

The 1939 Art Deco building with red border on the left houses Potato Head Folk – a burger joint on Keong Saik Road

And while we braved through the day, observing, sketching, painting and spurring each other on beads of sweat trickled down our backs and bloomed on our foreheads. In the absence of breeze, not a single leaf or a strand of hair moved. The air’s oppressive stillness clung the clothes to our bodies, forming dark, damp patches.

But then just as the morning turned into afternoon and became increasingly heavy with languor, respite came.

I was at the intersection of Keong Saik and Teck Lim Road, sketching this iconic pre-war building with bright red borders  when I saw a uniformed staff of Potato Head Folk – a burger joint that replaced the famous 75 year old Tong Ah Eating House- approach us lugging a bucket filled with green glass bottles.

Shophouses along Keong Saik Road

Preserved shophouses along Keong Saik Road – one of the prettiest section of Chinatown, Singapore

“Here, have one”, she said handing me a chilled bottle of mineral water. I may have snatched it and gulped its entire content down my parched throat before thanking her. ‘No worries. My boss saw you’ll sketching in the heat, so he sent these’, she added and moved on to other dehydrated souls.

The weather continued to be gruelling but Mr. Potato Head’s benevolence had already injected vigour into the listless air. We picked up our brushes and marched on.