Tag Archives: Volkswagen Beetle

Not a rookie anymore

Last year, around this time I took a leap of faith, went to Ikea, got myself cheap black frames into which I put my paintings and sent them out to be showcased at an art exhibition. Even before sending them out, I had marked places on the walls of my apartment where I planned to mount them if they made their way back home. A part of me agonised over our parting and the other part wanted to know if someone out there would actually pay money for something I had created.

The Entrance to the exhibition

The Entrance to the ‘We Draw Singapore Together’ exhibition

Besides the exhilaration of selling paintings for the first time in my life, last year’s experience helped me gain insights into how paintings should be priced and more importantly presented. So, this time round, I got my  artworks professionally framed and sent them out to the world with slightly less drama proving that I’m not a rookie anymore. The hard part wasn’t letting go, but to choose three out of the five I had sketched and painted for the occasion. These were the contenders :

A random house at Everton Road

A random house at Everton Road drawn with a dip pen with flex nib, Brown Calligraphy ink and a lot of patience

Contender 1 is this random terrace house on Everton Road that stood out for me because it was the only one in the row with such an incredible number of decorative plants on its porch  emerging from all kinds of pots. I was also drawn to the building’s teal coloured window frames and when I saw the owner eventually drive off in a teal coloured Volkswagen Beetle wearing a teal coloured dress with matching shoes, I was glad my palette didn’t have enough teal to deal with this kind of fetish.

Buddhist Library at Geylang Serai and more

A saffron clad monk with an American accent emerged from the Buddhist Library on Lorong 27A to look at our sketches and chat with us

Contender 2 was drawn with a fine nib pen which I realised can be a boon and a bane. Ever since I started using the Pilot Kaküno, I get caught up in details and take hours to finish the linework, which is what happened here in the above painting. Although the process is therapeutic and the painting gets beautifully embellished, sometimes slow and careful drawing, I feel steals some of the energy and spontaneity of the piece. I sketched this from right to left and as you can see I gradually broke free and finished the sketch with broader, indicative strokes to strike a balance. Not spelling out everything and leaving my sketches somewhat unfinished is important to me because that way the viewer gets to participate in the process by mentally joining the dots.

Colourful shophouses on Spottiswoode Road

Can you believe that this red house on Spottiswoode Road has a frontage of only 4.2 meters, while it is 36 meters deep and has 7 rooms?

Contender 3‘s cute little red shophouse at number 66 is the reason I plonked my stool opposite it and even though a series of cars and trucks took turns to block my view and tons of tourists stopped by, breathed over my neck while pointing fingers at my sketchbook, I managed to finish it. The owner of the red house, Mr. Seah, came over to chat and answered my barrage of questions without breaking a sweat.

He said my subject is a 1886 built house, that was owned by a Chinese family and handed down to family members over the years till in 1924 a nun from Malacca or perhaps Penang bought it for 4800 dollars. After she passed away in 1995, the house went to the trustees and finally Mr. Seah, a property agent and restoration contractor bought it. I say who needs to book a flight ticket when venturing out with a sketchbook lets you rediscover places like these locally!

House No.56 on Spottiswoode Park Road

House No.56 on Spottiswoode Park Road

Contender 4 is another beauty on Spottiswoode Park Road but a beauty with a sinister history. Apparently as per a lot of sources, a murder took place inside those walls. If it was up to Agatha Christie, I’m sure ‘Murder at House no. 56’ would be available in paperback and in the televised version we’d see monsieur Poirot pacing outside the wrought iron gates, tilting his egg shaped head to the side, twitching his waxed moustache and saying to Hastings, ‘Mon ami, let us eliminate the suspects one by one’.

L'Entrecote at Duxton Hill

L’Entrecote – a steak and fries bistro at 36 Duxton Hill

Wonky lines and all, I like how my contender 5 turned out. Duxton Hill is pretty as a picture, so settling on one subject is difficult until I found this lady in red and sketched her pronto. Two grey haired gentlemen hurried out of an office probably for a meeting and stopped briefly to check what I was doing on the floor of their corridor and on their way back asked if I take commissions. Then came a realtor cum historian who shoved his business card into my ink stained hands and asked to get in touch for future prospects. Nothing came out of both, but I still love how regular people going about their business get excited by art and are forced to stop by, linger and sometimes have heartfelt conversations with this absolute stranger!

So, if you’re wondering which three I chose for the exhibition, well, I took an opinion poll – asked friends, relatives, acquaintances for their choices and then of course went with the ones I always had in mind. Isn’t that what everybody does?

My three musketeers! (Excuse the poor lighting)

My three musketeers!

Anyway, by now if you’re feeling the unrelenting desire to drop everything and rush to the exhibition to check out my artwork, well then, who am I to stop you. Here’s the invite –

This is the invitation card with details of the venue and opening hours in case someone feels like buying local art

Go feast your eyes!











Sketching Vintage

Vintage Car

‘You have the sexiest babe out here’, I say to Andrew Webster’s face, the moment I walk into him with my sketchbook and pen. He grins. ‘You think so! Well, people do like her colour…but there are many beautiful ladies out here.’ he says modestly and scans the row of luscious dames standing in a neat array with information plates displaying their names, make and other interesting snippets. IMG_4254

National Heritage Board(NHB) of Singapore with Malaysia & Singapore Vintage Car Register (MSVCR) had jointly organised “Motoring Heritage Day 2013”, a spectacular display of 50 vintage and classic cars from the 1930s to 1970s era. The location for the exhibition – the 79 year old art deco Tanjong Pagar Railway Station which had ceased operations two years ago and was gazetted as a national monument – couldn’t have been more befitting.
V1The day is muggy and grey and the platform is ageing, monochromatic but the burst of colours on the glistening bodies – in sparkling shades of blue, red, yellow, green and so on – along the abandoned railway track is all it takes to swing the mood. Scores of visitors pour in to view the finest, immaculately preserved historic vehicles in Singapore –  photographing, videotaping, sketching or just gaping at them, documenting the scene in some way, imprinting in their memory this rare once in a year exhibit.
Some owners of these million dollar beauties sit behind their cars impassively, in mild coloured polo necks matched with a beret, semi-casual shorts and moccasins, smoking cigars, talking about the yesteryears, reminiscing, while others in Tees, sneakers and sombreros make rounds, mingle with the crowd and answer questions.
I have never drawn cars before, but am instantly drawn to these period vehicles. Their exotic features, classy design and scrumptious colours make each one seem like a work of art and immeasurably desirable.
Desire catapults inexperience, and soon enough I start outlining their smooth and flowing bodies with deeply valenced fenders and elegantly cowled back wheels, footboards, long hoods and showy chrome radiator jackets, glass windscreens with sunshades and snug leather seats and the distinctive cockpit-like wooden dashboards. “If I was a guy, I’d marry her’, says an overwhelmed vintage car enthusiast. I’d show her off all the time, if I had one. Wishful thinking! Not only because they are ridiculously expensive to buy and maintain but as per Classic and Vintage Vehicle Schemes in Singapore, there are usage restrictions on these cars as they ‘are not meant to serve day to day transport needs of their owners’. “Many of these cars can be used only upto 28 days in a year.” says the owner of a 1972 Morris Mini 1000. I get back to sketching.
What a joy it is to swerve and glide the pen, outlining the undulating curves, the sinuous stretches and lithe trails that make the retro bodies of these vintage and classic cars. To pick out few favourites, I try to scan the complete row by walking briskly from one end to another, but stop before a 1936 Armstrong Siddley and gape lasciviously at it before moving on to a 1969 Aston Martin DB6 which gets my pulse racing; then double back to catch the 1973 Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet that I had missed, turn mushy, slowly tear away and forge ahead till the end with many such intermittent stops.
V4I am spurred on to get all 50 cars down in my sketchbook, but my hands don’t move fast enough, in fact they turn clammy when I panic about the lack of enough time, my perspective goes awry, too many people block the view, pushing and shoving and then comes the rain – the hard hitting tropical rain that wipes out spectators, dulls the fun and drowns my plan.
To escape the rain, we climb the sprawling platform and join the car owners now eating lunch out of plastic trays, still posted dutifully behind their vehicles. The rain hardly perturbs their composure. But the inclement weather lets me appreciate the rear of the vehicles which is no less striking than the front.  I take out my tools and resume sketching. Andrew is happy with my pen-and-ink rendition of his bright red 1938 MGTA Midget and flips open his iPad to take a picture. “There’s another one down this line that I own. Want to take a look?”.