a) You always get invited on Sketch dates.
And it’s pure joy. More often than not, the location is exotic and even if it isn’t, you have great company and even if you have great company you aren’t obliged to socialize, make small talk or mingle. Misanthropes fit right in. You get to sit in your own little corner, do your own little thing, talk as much or as little to the next person and it still doesn’t affect your chances of getting invited again.
Last week’s location was Emerald Hill, right opposite Orchard Central and undoubtedly one of the most accessible and prettiest places in Singapore with rows of exquisitely conserved pre-war terrace houses turned into business establishments and homes. It is really hard to be not inspired here. Even though our path and enthusiasm was marred with a veritable rainstorm (for it is the wet season) the show went on as you can see from this fruitful harvest! Each one of us left feeling inspired, contended and with promises of future hangouts.
b) You order food that would render well in a drawing.
Colours, shapes, sizes take precedence over taste. And most importantly, right after the food arrives at your table and the tantalising smell starts flirting with your senses, you are able to exercise monastic restraint in choosing the fork over the pencil and an inimitable ambition to finish sketching before the food gets cold and/or your dining companion starts fidgeting.
After my sketcher friend finished placing her order at Sakae Sushi, she turned to me and brightly declared, “The Salmon and Tuna sashimi..aren’t they colourful?…I ordered these, coz they’d look wonderful in our sketchbooks”. I might have teared up a little.
c) You get programmed to see ‘interesting’ things wherever you go, in the most unassuming places and at all possible times and want to document that.
And in doing so, with practice, you become a chronic chronicler with benefits aplenty. When you start documenting something, you are forced to slow down and observe more. You become mindful of every moment. You learn to live in the present. This may seem like bumper sticker wisdom but actually has much longer shelf life and is a widely practiced philosophy even. Peter Matthiessen in his book Snow Leopard, says, ‘..the courage-to-be, right here, right now and nowhere else, is precisely what Zen,..demands : eat when you eat, sleep when you sleep!”
Only because I was with a sketch artist, did I take away time from my honey lemon juice to join her in drawing this bunch of vintage items exhibited at Toast Box – a ‘reflection of coffee shops in the 60s and 70s’ – as part of their decor. I walked away knowing every item on those two shelves and the ones I liked the most – the palm sized TV and a pair of antique looking (or antique) binoculars. Probably this information won’t serve me a great purpose but when I was there, sketching, I wasn’t thinking of checking my phone, answering emails or figuring what to cook for dinner. I was involved and emotionally invested in what I was doing. It seemed like a therapeutic exercise in mindfulness and left me richer than anyone walking off with just the taste of that overly sweet honey lemon drink.