Monthly Archives: September 2015

Almost gutted

I was heading home after a long day when this charming old lady on Blair Road with teal coloured facade embellished with classical motifs and louvered windows fringed by waxy Frangipani leaves jumped out at me.

Giving credibility to my artist friends’ claims about my inclination towards a certain kind of sketch subject , that range from lighthearted banter – ‘show her shophouses and she’s all perked up’, ‘Shophouses..well, that’s her middle name‘ to exaggerated assertions like – ‘suppose she was bound, gagged and comatose, I bet she could still land a decent shophouse in her sketchbook‘ , I lingered and toyed with the idea of, well, sketching this shophouse.

A Blair Road terrace house with Frangipani in its courtyard

This Blair Road terrace house sketch came back from the dead

By the time I put pen to paper, sunlight was licking the last bar of the grilled gate. Construction workers from the renovation site next door had stopped hammering, hung their helmets and boots and were heading back in a group that moved like one composite unit of droopy shoulders and dragging feet. Except a house cat chasing a squirrel, I was alone on the street and the meditative silence brought out some satisfactory linework.

I went home and painted it.

And then I loathed it, with all my heart. Harder I looked, more limp and lifeless the painting became. Feeding it to the paper shredder seemed like the right thing to do, but I put it away and tried to pretend it never happened. But mistakes happen, more often than you like, in different shapes and forms and turns out you can’t quit the game and press ‘restart’ every time you make a boo boo. You need to step on them to climb to the next level. So I dug this one out after months in exile and retouched it today and guess what – I can finally live with it and move on!



I had never sketched SAM

with 400 people before.

Singapore Art Museum

Singapore Art Museum (SAM)

And though you don’t see them in my sketch (except three), I sense their proximity, energy and camaraderie even as I write this. Sketching this building was the last event on the last day of Urban Sketchers Symposium held in the last week of July. The late afternoon’s humidity was tinged with the bittersweet feeling of relief and impending gloom.

After 3-days of intensive sketching, art workshops and activities we were going to have our lives back. But the little bubble inside which we hung out with artists from around the world, sketched and played with paints from dawn till dusk, drew our food till it went cold, had nerdy discussions about art supplies and perspectives without anybody leaving the table, went giddy with excitement when shaking hands with our favourite artists and most of all got inspired and set lofty goals for ourselves a million times in a day would burst and the withdrawal symptoms would kick in.

But before all that happened, I was sketching SAM with 400 artists. We were like a full blown symphony orchestra sitting on low stools or plonked on hard concrete, each playing our own instrument, deftly, looking from time to time at the conductor in front of us for cues and making art together. That in itself was a pretty incredible feeling!