Monthly Archives: April 2016

The go-to subject

 

is an essential element in a sketch artist’s life.

It is something or someone that we mindlessly and repetitively draw all the time, an easily accessible model that has offered itself unequivocally to Art. I have friends who fill their sketchbook’s pages with drawings of inanimate objects such as vegetables, dinosaur toys, shoes and crockeries and this arrangement is simple because a potato couldn’t possibly have an opinion unless it’s playing a crabby spud in Toy Story. Then of course, we know how it feels.

But if you’re after a sentient being, ask yourself as I have – who is that person that can stand endless hours of gawking, isn’t fidgety, holds a pose just long enough and doesn’t flinch even when the image you created is a travesty, in fact – and this is important and also a bonus – can find creative ways to offer approval ?

For me, it is this guy below, although he’s still working on the ‘offering approval’ part as I am on my drawling skills.

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Two new entries

have been made into my ever expanding repertoire of cafe sketches. As temperatures soar and humidity grows to impossible heights, that’s all I seem to be doing on a weekly basis – hide in air-conditioning, drink tea with fancy names (e.g Nymph of  the Nile) and draw. I should try harder at striking the ‘struggling artist’ image, I know. Maybe next time. Till then meet –

The Provision Shop at Everton Park – it’s cute, cozy, comfy, has a homely, convivial feel to it and smells of coffee and bread. The staff is super friendly.

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and

Stranger’s Reunion cafe on Kampong Bahru Road, which on the other hand is spacious, chic, has a touch of hushed elegance associated with fine dining restaurants and smells of truffle fries. The staff seemed slightly distant and reserved but they served tea in pristine white victorian style teapots which was an acceptable trade off for me.

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A snack and a dessert

Last week while lunching with my sketcher pals at Tiong Bahru Hawker Center, I had two new additions to my ever expanding knowledge of local dishes.

I was ploughing through a plate of noodles topped with roasted pork slices and a bowl of clear soup with light fluffy wantons floating on the surface when Paul landed a plate of Chwee Kweh and a bowl of cooling Cheng Teng on our table and said, “try these”. He seemed rather pleased and glanced over his loot with such undeniable sense of achievement that I wondered if mountains were moved and demons were slain to win these back from the dragon’s den! Pretty close actually, considering the heat, humidity and long lunch time queues he must have endured to score some of this hawker center’s best offerings.

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Chwee Kweh, a white muffin shaped item (top right on my sketchbook) is a kind of steamed rice cake which was served on waxed paper and seemed bland by itself but when eaten with the salty, garlicky preserved radish relish, it hit all the right notes. “It’s a very popular snack in Singapore”, said my friends understandably when they saw me stealing second, third..fifth helpings. I managed a muffled “mmm…hmm” in between mouthfuls. They withdrew their chopsticks gently and let me finish every last bit of it.

Cheng Teng, sketched on the bottom right wasn’t an instant hit, maybe because I’m not big on desserts but what won me over eventually were its mild sweetness (from rock sugar) and cooling nature. The dish looked like brown frozen soup in a glass bowl filled with a slew of goodies known to have health benefits like gingko nuts, dried longan, winter melons, dried persimmon, sago, barley pearls, red dates and such, making it a dessert that you can sip and chew and have fun with, apparently. Paul kept asking me to dig deep with my spoon to scoop up the dried fruits along with the frozen soup and every time I did, we checked what was unearthed. “Look, persimmons.. there, get the water chestnut, quick! Aw.. it slipped. Try again”.