my 1st blooper for 2013!

In a strange way I have the strangest superstition … like not starting a new year with chores or events I do not like, which I have control over and doing more of the things I like.
So for 2013, I wanted to revisit a hobby I had when I was a child: painting
At 12 I had produced at least 8 pieces of oil painting and had won numerous competitions for oil pastels and poster colour. My first oil pastel commission was a 8 piece collection of ethnic people of Malaysia, many of which had excessive creases and folded skin. It’s a pity I can’t relocate the film photos of them, but I recalled my mom (who is vain and takes offense to wrinkles then) saying, why must you keep drawing old people?
I have no recollection how much I was paid, but I sure felt rich at the age of 11 as it bought me my first real oil painting “set” of:
  • Winsor & Newton Artist oil colours  essential colours in cadmium red, phthalo blue, cadmium yellow, phthalo green, burnt umber, titanium white, zinc white and Payne’s grey.
  • 3 palette knifes
  • 3 Filbert brushes
  • linseed oil
  • natural/ organic turpenoid (not the cheap turpentine I had been using from the good ol’ neighbourhood hardware store)
  • professionally treated canvas!
The latter was such a joy.
With limited budgets, I used to buy the “canvas” sold in one of those one-stop shops that sells demented grandfather PJs pants to sleek coconut hair oil and MR 9.90 canvas shoes.
These “canvas” were meant to be covers of iron boards back in the day when Brabantia ironing board was unheard off and not oil/ acrylic painting. It lacked texture, but hey as an 11 year old with a ridiculous chocolate hoarding addiction then, affordability and lunch money only stretches so far. Without proper primer, I used to “steal” the leftover white emulsion paints in the garage my dad had abandoned, which created a greater awareness of the various hardware items that would influence me greatly in my university days.
I’ve never been good at water colours.
Perhaps the only water colour images I was exposed to as a child growing up was Chinese water colour and those lame landscapes of the sea, the harbour, the cottage garden type. None of which got my blood pumping. Hence, I never quite went down that route.
My various attempts were pathetic.
I had dismissed it as a natural thing as it’s quite difficult to switch from heavy mediums and intense colours to controlling lightly tinted water on paper.
Something like being able to play both tennis and ping pong well.
However, subconsciously, I have been painfully aware and attracted to watercolour works by illustrators of travel journals … and Moleskine.
The thing is Moleskine only entered the Malaysian market a couple of years back… by which time, professional day job had taken over my life … and if I may say, the pricing is day light robbery by all accounts.
To make it worse, I could not bring myself to buy an ordinary, slightly thicker than onion skin paper notebook when I used to sell whimsical handmade notebook to an equally whimsical stationer for working women in New York.
Nonetheless, I finally relented and bought my first Moleskine – Travel Journal (no less) in 2011.
I had contemplated about it for a long time, prodded by the decision by my travel mate who thought it would be a great idea to start journaling our travels starting from the Balkans.
Interesting to note, neither he nor I lugged our Moleskine – Travel Journal along.
He had brought a palm sized thin notebook – freebie from some Bank would be my guess.
I brought along my RM 2.90 ring notepad –  the one that oozes inspiration.
But over time, I did attempt some journaling on the Moleskine – Travel Journal.
Admittedly, this was driven solely by the cost of the damn thing … hence the guilt of not using it.
I started off with Sri Lanka, Hong Kong and a partial entry of a 4×4 Road Trip. These were done in the scrapbooking style.
But as of yesterday, I decided to try my hand at watercolor sketching of Sarajevo.
This urge started at 1:53 am as I sat on my bed trying to recall by memory the green building along the river, just 100 metres from the Latin Bridge where the Archduke Franc Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated, thereby starting the First World War … or should I say the never ending wars and exchange of hands of lands between Greater Serbia and the then Yugoslavia.
Penelope Sarajevo Latin Bridge
As the slightly thicker than onion skin thin paper pucker and dry … I looked up the travel photo this morning … gulp, gulp, it’s confirmed: I am demented! My memory of the building (reproduced below) is anything but …
Penelope Water Colour 1
Great thing is I am Malaysian.Sigh

We have lots of ethnic and religious calendars – I can always start over if things don’t work out many, many times in a Gregorian calendar year!

Phew! Suddenly things don’t seem too bad…
And hopefully through osmosis I’ll be able to be improve as I upload great travel illustrations by inspirational illustrators, architects, just plain talented folks in my co-authored (to be launched) new blog in 2013: Geek’s G-Spots


4 thoughts on “my 1st blooper for 2013!

  1. so jealous. is it a given that all architects can sketch??? coz majority of urban sketchers (base on my research) are either illustrators (given!) or architects.So had I perservered and waited countless of table to pay my way through architecture school instead of being the chicken who took the scholarship … i would have been able to sketch???i thot of just buying the regular watercolour pads lah… cheaper than moleskine and they even come in pre-printed postcards back and many many sizes.

  2. cheh, thought u r picasso terpendam. anyway, ok then, when? lol. i mean, both the moleskin and the notepad laah. anyway, i wanna get a moleskin nd do some sketch along 'the way' although i move and travel so fast, i hardly got time to really sketch on the spot. perhaps i would sketch when i m back in the hotel room, from the camera….ka ka ka.

  3. no cubist. do i look like cubist? i was 12 then. it's boring bowl of fruits, VG wannabe sunflowers, some women in the fields kindda thing. got to get from my dad lor … i think it's still in his place. moleskine? i think yours will be a nicer read man… my 2.90 notepads are the one you should be after if at all you can decipher my writing. contains entries that never made it to the blog. those are gems!!!

  4. now, can i formally request u t lend me yr moleskin to hv a 'read'? jus like anyone who borrows a book from your collection? lol. also, i would like to view your oil painting, can? no cubist painting ah?

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