Dickson Road

 

in Singapore’s Little India neighbourhood is at a 10mins bus ride from my home. It has a row of slightly run down, mismatched yet beautiful shophouses which I only ‘discovered’ the other day after having lived in the vicinity for 6 years. Six years! Over a glass of lime juice bought from a hole in the wall eatery I began sketching this scene from a sunny spot all the while mulling over one question – what took me so long to find this place?

I hadn’t started sketching until recently is the answer I’m going to settle for. There are millions of things vying for our attention day after day and in our bid to process all the information bombarded at us we see everything but observe nothing. Not if you are somebody who likes to draw from life, though! You sirs and madams, single out the Mandarins on the supermarket shelf not because they are on offer but because you are wondering how much Quin Gold mixed with Cadmium red will get you that specific shade of orange.

dickson-road

Shophouses on Dickson Road sketched using my fav tools – dip pen and ink

In a rare instance when you are stuck in a subway without your sketching supplies you start making invisible contour drawings with your eyes of the people in the compartment. You scrutinize the shape of their nose, the arch of their back, colour of their eyes and hair along with skin tones, postures, attires and so on. Because you have this wonderful habit of documenting what you see you’re forced to slow down and focus on your subjects and with continued practice you inculcate a keen sense of observation. When your station arrives you leave with the image of a tired construction worker carrying take-out food in a red polythene bag typical of hawker centers and a Zen mom snoozing peacefully while her toddler tries to pry her eyes open. Or something of this sort.

Sure, this kind of information doesn’t serve an immediate purpose but instead of thinking about doing laundry, calling parents, cooking dinner, checking Instagram, unclogging the kitchen sink and chasing an overdue payment all at the same time, when sketching I get to park a single thought in my mind for a prolonged period of time. It is akin to meditation with all the promised benefits but without the numb legs from sitting cross legged in lotus posture.

Since I frequent Little India so much, it is impossible to have not walked on Dickson Road before but I clearly didn’t remember it. And now that I’ve drawn it, I won’t forget it.

116 thoughts on “Dickson Road

  1. Paloma

    I love your paintings…are you selling them? Or are you teaching drawing by chance? I also live in singapore. Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Somali Roy Post author

      Hi Paloma! Thanks so much! I’m glad you like my work 😊 And yes, I sell my original paintings. If you like something you see on the blog, don’t hesitate to email me at somali.roy@gmail.com. I can get back to you with dimensions, price and the materials I used to paint that piece. I could also suggest you some options if you write to me. I don’t teach drawing anywhere. Thanks again for your interest in my work!

      Reply
  2. vibesofacalcuttan

    Nice painting ☺ brings out the neighbourhood quite well. And it’s true for many of us that we miss what is right there in front of us, in order to look afar. Fortunately, you noticed it! It really calms the mind in this fast paced life while producing an image this great, and I just love your backstory! 😍

    Reply
    1. Somali Roy Post author

      Thank you! I’m so glad you liked my painting as well as the story that goes with it😊 Sketching is truly a great exercise in honing observation skills and I’m glad to not miss out the little things because of it! Thanks for writing to me😊

      Reply
    1. Somali Roy Post author

      Thank you so much! And great news! I’m sure you’ll like Singapore! There are plenty of walking tours you can go on which are really good. Lemme know if you need any help😊

      Reply
      1. Somali Roy Post author

        Orchard road( main shopping district)/ Newton( has a popular hawker center / Novena- are central but could be expensive. Little India isn’t far too and could have budget accommodations. The neighbourhood which I quite like is called ‘Tiong Bahru’. It has quaint Art Deco houses, good connectivity( buses, mrt station), plenty of cafes( must must visit Tiong Bahru Cafe!!) and restaurants around and a lot of history. The walking tour of this area is pretty interesting. You can check out hotel Nostalgia in that area, which is 5 mins from Tiong Bahru Cafe!

  3. viewmytrip

    Omg!!! Your drawing is something else! Love the way you describe drawing and how it makes you feel. You just reminded me how much I like it myself!! Could sit for hour after another with a pen and paper. Thank you 👍🏻

    Reply
  4. Susan

    Beautiful and lively drawing. I love contour drawing.

    I also hear you about the meditation quality of creating art. That you get to pause for a moment and focus on one thing at a time. I sometimes find that creating art can help me to systematically work through each thought. To arrange them in a line so they don’t compete all at once with one another. But flow smoothly from one thought to the next and are not as overwhelming.

    Reply
    1. Somali Roy Post author

      Hi Susan! Thank you for your kind compliment and also for sharing your thoughts! I’ve been so enthused about making art because it has helped me immensely in many ways and I always wondered if others feel that way too. It’s really great to know how making art has helped you slow down and process your thoughts in a more organized way! Yay! Let’s keep drawing🙂

      Reply
    1. Somali Roy Post author

      Dear Grace! You can! It’s not hard at all😊 Just start with the simplest of tools- a paper and a pencil/ pen and try to draw what’s in front of you. Maybe take a beginners art class – online ( have you heard of Sketchbook Skool?) or one in your neighbourhood? To get you inspired I can recommend two books by Danny Gregory- ‘Everyday Matters’ and ‘The Creative License’. You can visit your local library too and check out some art books! Just start and do it for yourself and you’d be really surprised by the results! Let me know if you need any help😊

      Reply
  5. healingpilgrim

    You’ve really captured the rich feel of that neighborhood. Living in Bali, I visit Singapore at least once a year, which naturally = at least one visit to Little India! I look forward to enjoying more of your stories and images. Thanks for sharing your creativity, Somali😉

    Reply
    1. Somali Roy Post author

      Thank you so much for your lovely message! I love traveling in Bali and sketched a bit while I was there earlier this year. I’ll share those sketches soon! Thanks again for stopping by!

      Reply
  6. lolazee

    I mean really..it just brings it all out…the beauty of the place,and though I haven’t been there,i already feel like I’m standing right there..right now…it’s lovely

    Reply
    1. Somali Roy Post author

      Thank you for your lovely comment! I liked reading your poems, especially ‘Nameless’- such simple, effortless lines and you get the message across so beautifully. I loved the flow. Please write more 😊

      Reply
  7. Genie Geer

    Loved your words, especially about making a contour drawing with your eyes….I do that frequently and didn’t realize it may be a common practice for us artists! As usual, your work is inspired.

    Reply
    1. Somali Roy Post author

      You do that too! Actually, couple of other artists also mentioned that they do the same thing when they look at people. How interesting! And thank you again for your lovely comment.

      Reply
      1. Lyli

        Oh waw🙂 i have a friend from India🙂 .. i like your drawing it’s colorful and ” busy” i thought about india first for your inspiration cause the city feel busy every time ^^ So ,are you an illustratrice in India ?🙂

      2. Somali Roy Post author

        I’ve been living in Singapore for a while and like to sketch the heritage buildings, many of which have been turned into restaurants, hotels, cafes, boutiques and such. So the streets housing these buildings are quite busy and the buildings themselves are very colourful! I’m glad you enjoy my sketches!

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