BLOG ENTRIES

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I just want to report that there are days when I feel so glad to be alive.

Especially these days. This morning I woke up feeling vaguely optimistic that it would be a good day. No reason, no rhyme. Had the usual set lunch at the usual cafe, finished some work, made some drawings. Right now we’re stuck in the cafe because it’s raining cats and dogs out there. By all accounts this has been “just another day”.

Just another happy day.

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Happy like puppies

It feels like my soul has finally eaten a good meal and she’s spread out on a grassy meadow, staring at the sky, just watching the clouds float by. The blue of the sky is the perfect tint of brilliant blue that goes with everything. The breeze is firm but gentle. The smile on her face feels like it belongs there.

Could it be the nourishing creativity that I’ve been exposing myself to? The hours of losing myself in drawing just for the sake of drawing? The long conversations with K, my art teacher, which meander down long and winding paths to nowhere, paths that I had always wanted to venture down but never did because I didn’t know how to? The flashing eyes of my Japanese teacher, Another K, who empathetically said that she agrees fully with the Japanese essays that I write (the content, not the grammar)?

Could it be the routine everyday that I had craved so badly last year when I was living out of a suitcase, skipping from hotel room to hotel room, wondering what I was doing with my life? The servers at the neighbourhood chicken rice place and the cafe we go to every week know our usual orders by now. Ukulele class on Wednesdays, yoga class on Thursdays, Japanese class on Fridays, art class on Sundays. Even Spot peeing on my house slippers isn’t so bad, since Leo cleans them up. Bless him, bless the cats, bless everything routine in my life.

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Spot sleeping peacefully, as if he did not pee on my slippers

Could it be that things make sense in this country again? Every day I open Malaysiakini with eagerness. So far it’s been two weeks since we’ve changed governments, and the novelty has not worn off. Every day something extraordinary happens, something completely inconceivable a month ago, as I shake my head with wonder. I agree with many of the policy decisions and stances that have been made (not all though). The simpering pink face of greed and cowardice is finally facing the music. His counterpart, the bloated and stiff face of horror as well. Our national debt is through the ceiling, but the very fact that I actually know this, gives me hope.

Could it be that I’m doing work that I like again? I’ve just accepted a part time lecturing position in a university, and I’m tweaking and redesigning the course that I’m going to teach. It’s a different ball game from a research project and is actually, dare I say it, fun. And every other day I get some random potential project. People ring me up and engage me in all sorts of small projects, sometimes it goes through and sometimes it does not. Lots of times it’s a promise of something that might happen, and I’m forever waiting. I’m still in the red, but I’m optimistic about staying afloat.

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Frog says no to paparazzi

It’s just this feeling of being at peace, building stuff, laughing at small things, again. Some of that old naiveté is back. Believing that good things will happen. Having faith that even if bad things happen, there is enough strength to withstand them.

It’s been years since I’ve felt like that. The hitch hiker’s thumb. The mischievous smile. The surge of confidence in the “definitely, yes”.

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High on life

I made all the drawings. Regular updates at @juneysketches.

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[Scroll down for English translation.]

私は研究者です。大学卒業以来研究関係の仕事しかやってこなかったので、去年はしばらく研究者の仕事を休んで、一年間コーディネーター関係の仕事をしました。やっぱり、私には研究のほうが向いていると気づきました。現在は研究に関する仕事を得るために就職活動をしています。

研究者にはいくつかの特性が有ると思います。まずは、好奇心です。何を見ても質問が出てくるーー例えば、その状況はどうして発生したのか?そのデザインはなんのためなのか?この過程はどうすれば一番良いのか?子供たちはたくさんの疑問を抱き、質問をします。それと同じで、私たちは誰もが研究者としての素質を持っていると思います。でもその問題が面白いか、分析価値があるのか、他の研究者はもう結論を出したのか…問うべき価値があるかどうかなど、いろいろなことについて考える必要があります。

次に大切なことは、答えを導き出す根気があること。長く結果が出ない時もあるので、忍耐力が必要だと思います。答えを見つけるまで、考え続けるタイプのひとに向いています。でも頑固な性格は周りのメンバーに嫌われる時もあるので、気を付けなければなりません。

最後は、方法です。別々の分野の人々は、世界を理解するために 、それぞれのフィルターで物事を見ています。理系と文系は同じ世界に暮らしてますが、別の世界を見ています。だから、同じ問題を研究していて、別の答えになったとしてもおかしくないです。その 方法や手順 が科学的である限り、問題はありません。研究者は適切な手順を使って、一つ一つ問題を解決します。

研究とは、科学的な方法で地道に答えを見つけ出していくことだと思います。 したがって、 研究者はそのような仕事を楽しんでできる人に向いていると思います。

I am a researcher. Upon graduating from university, I had only done research-related work – so, last year I took a break from research and tried out coordination work instead. Through that, I realised that I am still more suitable for research. Therefore, right now I am looking for research-related work.

In my opinion, I think that there are a few characteristics that the researcher should have. First is curiosity. Questions emerge from everything you see – for example,  why did that situation happen? What is this design for? What is the best way to do this? Connected to the observation that children usually have many questions, I think that everyone has the potential for being a researcher. However, there is still a consideration of whether the questions are interesting, if they are worth investigating, or if some other researchers have already come to a conclusion to the question [note: I have more thoughts on this but I didn’t want to elaborate in Japanese – basically even if other researchers have come to a conclusion, if you get a good angle of the research question it may still be worthwhile to investigate it, maybe even debunk the original conclusion. But if you are studying a question that already has a pretty well-established answer, and come to the same answer… well, that might not be the most interesting study.]. There is a difference between a good research question and a lesser one.

Secondly, is the ability to work for a long time until you get the answer. As there is a possibility of not arriving to a conclusion for a long time,  one needs to persevere. Research work is suitable for those who cannot stop thinking about the problem until they solve it. However, a stubborn character might annoy the colleagues working around them, this is something that we need to be mindful about.

Lastly, the important thing is the methodology. People from different fields see the world differently, with different filters. Scholars of the arts and the sciences live in the same world, but see different ones. Therefore, it is not strange for the same research question to have different answers. As long as the methodology and procedures are scientific, there is no problem [comment: well, here there may be some dispute on what is considered scientific methods in different fields, but that’s a can of worms that I don’t want to open.]. The researcher needs to use appropriate procedures, and answer the question step by step.

Research is about using scientific methods to systematically and gradually find the answer to a research question. A researcher is therefore someone who finds this kind of work interesting, I believe.

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Note: I wrote the above in Japanese first, and did the translation later on. It is interesting to observe that something that I feel runs quite smoothly in Japanese doesn’t have the same ring to it in English – and the resulting translation sometimes either sounds clunky, or has to lose some nuance that it had before when it was in Japanese. Which is to say, when I write in Japanese I think differently from when I write in English. This is nothing new in the psychology of linguistics, but I thought that it was quite interesting, experientially.

Note 2: Featured image is what I made when I was doing my PhD, with the angst and self-doubt of a researcher, no technique, and possibly lots of wine.

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I’ve been on a persistent high the last few days. Sunday was when it started. I had a long conversation with my art teacher K – we didn’t do any art in class that day, but just sat and pored over the works of artists, Impressionism and post, while another student and I listened closely to K’s commentary on them. With Google Arts and Culture, it is possible to look at thousands of pieces of high definition masterpieces, zooming out and in, from Cezanne’s landscape and still life compositions to Van Gogh’s individual brush strokes.

We did exactly that. And while I was earnestly absorbing the visual buffet with my amateur eyes, we also discussed technical and philosophical questions of art. What constitutes good structure and composition? Why was Cezanne considered the father of modern art movements such as cubism and abstract art? And the one that has been occupying my mind a lot – what is the point of art? Is it too optimistic to imagine that, through finding the meaning of art, we might also find the meaning to life?

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Paul Cezanne – The Basket of Apples (circa 1893)

Classes are supposed to be only two hours, even though K never really enforces it. By the end of four hours, we had sat through a two-hour storm in the poolside pavilion where we usually have our class. The other student had left an hour ago, and I was nursing my lukewarm tea, with a million thoughts racing through my head, each one deserving and competing for my attention. The sudden expansion of information to digest took up all the brain space that I had, the pieces fusing into each other and I couldn’t remember where each piece started and ended. It was all very confusing – but satisfying.

K believes that art is a tool for self-expression, an innate need that humans have had since the age of the cavemen. To communicate something that is within ourselves, to create something from nothing. Within a technically adept painter may not necessarily live an artist. They may be excellent at portraits and landscapes, but remain at most draftsmen that are mostly good for commissions (I sense some quiet contempt there). The point of art is therefore not to please others. It is through art that we can understand more about the world and about ourselves, and through that achieve freedom.

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Paul Gauguin – Self portrait with portrait of Bernard, ‘Les Miserables’ (1888)

To K, art is freedom. It is the ability to make full use of our senses, and to then translate all of this into a piece of unique work. A true artist has philosophy behind her work, not only technique. She draws not only with her hands but also with her mind. Upon further research at home, I can see through some quotes from Paul Gauguin, an artist that K adores, the philosophy that he might hold. Here are some that I found endearing, encouraging or wise.

  • Art is either plagiarism or revolution.
  • There are two sorts of beauty; one is the result of instinct, the other of study. A combination of the two, with the resulting modifications, brings with it a very complicated richness, which the art critic ought to try to discover.
  • Out in the sun, some painters are lined up. The first is copying nature, the second is copying the first, the third is copying the second… You see the sequence.
  • A critic is someone who meddles with something that is none of his business.
  • I have come to an unalterable decision – to go and live forever in Polynesia. Then I can end my days in peace and freedom, without thoughts of tomorrow and this eternal struggle against idiots.
  • There is always a heavy demand for fresh mediocrity. In every generation the least cultivated taste has the largest appetite.
  • Art requires philosophy, just as philosophy requires art. Otherwise, what would become of beauty?
  • Go on working, freely and furiously, and you will make progress.
  • With practice the craft will come almost of itself, in spite of you and all the more easily if you think of something besides technique.
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Vincent van Gogh – Bedroom in Arles (1889)

I am increasingly convinced that, art is but a tool to communicate one’s truths and emotions. The better we get at it, the more robust our ability is to express ourselves, accurately and exactly as we see it. Through writing my Japanese essays I have become painfully cognisant of the fact that I have at times had to embellish what I originally intended to say, only because my arsenal of Japanese vocabulary and grammar is insufficient to explain the nuances of what I had wanted to express. Far more rarely, but it does happen – is when I want to say something in English that would have been easily said in a phrase in Japanese, yet in English it comes out feels clunky and unnatural.

From the top of my head, an example: 来てくれたんだ roughly translates to “You have come for me (in this statement there is a slight nuance of appreciation – thanks for making the effort for coming to see me/attend this event because of me)” but I can’t think of an English equivalent that is as succinct as the Japanese phrase, that doesn’t fall flat on its face.

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Katsushika Hokusai – Two ladies with a telescope from the series “Seven habits of grace and disgrace” (1798 – 1811)

However, the real and bigger question does not lie in how well our craftmanship or mastery of language is, since that is something that can be acquired over time with lots of practice. No. The real and bigger question is that, do I have something worth expressing? I believe that this may be the key of how art links to life. Perhaps the most pressing mission that an artist has is to find that burning something that she has to shout out to the world, her emotions, her struggles, her worldview… and that comes from a life with meaning.

What then, is my life’s meaning?

Is art then, an invitation to open this door to self-exploration, of introspection, of listening closely to the murmurs of our souls? Am I up to the task of finding the authentic me, even if it might yield an answer of disappointing mediocrity, of a life not worth communicating?

The thinking continues.

Featured image by Josef Koudelka. K said that a good composition is when every element within the picture is essential, taking away something will render it ineffective. Incidentally, I watched Amadeus last week and that was what was said about Mozart’s composition – it is perfect, as is. Add or take away a note, and its beauty is diminished. 

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I’m now writing a blog post in Japanese every week from now on. It’s part of my (self-imposed) homework for a tutor that I got through italki. Every week I meet Kimie-san on Skype and she corrects my essays and we talk for about an hour. So far I’ve done one proper lesson (and a trial lesson before that), and she has exceeded my expectations in being a responsive and caring tutor who takes down my questions during class and sends me extensive answers through Skype afterwards even when it’s not on paid time.

When the teacher is good I get super motivated to work harder, and that seems to motivate them to teach better as well – so it’s a virtuous cycle right there. Anyways here is my first (corrected) Japanese blog post and a translation of it beneath.

絵を描くことについての感想

最近絵を描くことにハマっている。多分いい美術の先生を見つけたから、頑張れる気がする。子供の時は絵を描くのが大好きだったが、大人になってからほとんど描いていません。なぜでしょう?自信がなくなったとか、時間がなくなったとか、いろいろな理由があるかもしれません。

久しぶりに鉛筆を手に取って紙で線を描くのは、気持ちいいです。先生は美術は言語だと言っていました。線は言葉です。もし言葉の使い方がうまくなかったら、伝えたいことも通じない。だから、線の描き方をマスターすることはとても重要です。次に、色の観察です。光はどこから?影はどこまで?色は冷たいか、温かいか?それらを表現できれば、画家の気持ちを観る人の心まで届けられる。

名作を観る時、絵の構成や色の使い方や筆の動かし方を、丁寧に観察するべきです。その後、学んだことは紙で試して、よく練習します。こうすることによって、テクニックとセンスがよくなります。

Translated:

My thoughts about drawing

Recently, I have been into drawing. It is probably because I found a good art teacher, which has encouraged me to work harder. I used to love drawing when I was a child, but after I grew up I didn’t do it much anymore. Why is that? Maybe I lost my confidence, maybe I didn’t have time anymore… I suppose there are many reasons.

After a long hiatus, it feels good to be holding a pencil, and drawing a line on paper. Art is a language, said my teacher. Lines are the words. If you do not use words well, you will not be able to communicate what you want to say. Therefore, it is very important to master the use of lines. After that, it is the observation of colours. Where does the light come from? Where do the shadows end? Are the colours cool or warm? Through expressing these well, the artist’s feelings can be transmitted to the hearts of the viewers.

When we look at a masterpiece, we should carefully observe the painting’s composition, its use of colours, and the master’s brush strokes. After that, we try out on paper what we have learnt, and practise it over and over again. If you do this, your techniques and artistic sense will get better over time.

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I drew the featured image based on a photo from NatGeo. See more at @juneysketches.

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I found out something curious today.

I was cleaning up my LinkedIn profile and relooking into my Instagram account – basically doing some social media housekeeping that I had not had time nor motivation to do, for years – when I realised that in my six years of absence from Instagram, someone had been using my account as a phantom follower to other Instagram accounts! *jeng jeng jeng*

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I’m going to be peppering this post with completely unrelated pictures from my old Instagram account. We were watching some cows humping in this picture.

Let’s establish some basic background. I started using Instagram around 2010, for about two years, mainly for its filter functions, which resulted in a lot of random photos in my profile which I applied the filters on. Earlier on I had already set the profile up as private because of how I was using it (i.e. as a quick photo editing tool and not a sharing platform). Around 2012, around when I was finishing up my PhD, I stopped using the app. Possibly because Facebook had acquired Instagram, or maybe I got tired of it, I don’t remember.

Today I revisited my profile and reset the password because I had forgotten it. I started looking through the pictures, of which I had 270 – a number which I was genuinely surprised by, as I thought I had twenty pictures tops. But then I noticed something funny. I had the grand total of one follower, but over 300 profiles that I was following. My feed was full of unfamiliar profiles, some of them in Arabic, some in Russian, some in Spanish.

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This was taken in some French town. The busker had left for lunch, or skipped town – we will never find out.

And then it dawned on me that quite possibly my account had somehow been taken over – hacked? – and all these profiles that I was following probably bought their likes. And that I now have a list of over 300 profiles which are like-buyers and fraudster influencers.

I clicked randomly through the list, and these are what I found:

  • Lots of legitimately cute chicks. There’s even a really beautiful female body builder in there with an intimidating silhouette. A Korean singer/song-writer. Many different personalities – Chinese, Japanese, Spanish-speaking, tudung-wearing, globe-trotting… but ultimately quite boring profiles. If you’ve seen one selfie, you’ve seen them all.
  • There are also guys of course. There’s a guy in there who collects expensive branded bags. An Italian actor/producer who has 1.5mil likes. An old dude who seems to be living the life, photographed with many expensive cars and at many travel destinations. A young dude who has many artistic shots of himself (probably can’t afford cars and trips). Some American guy who has a PhD, is a producer, a pilot, and works in law enforcement – if he didn’t buy my like I might have trusted his long list of achievements a little more.
  • Businesses, as well. Someone who sells Legos in Indonesia. A slimming/wellness service provider from the Philippines which was apparently founded by a former beauty queen (I arrived at their website and dug deeper). An Australian shopping centre showing pictures of all their vendors. A bank from India. An art gallery from somewhere that speaks Arabic, which actually looks like a profile that I wouldn’t mind following – one of its pictures are of a group of women with headscarves sitting together, drawing.
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Drinking from some random stream somewhere. There’s probably a healthy colony of parasites in my gut now.

  • Most of these accounts have an upwards of 10,000 likes. The highest that I’ve seen so far is 3.9 million likes, and the lowest at 1600+ likes. Wonder how much of that is actually real.
  • There are profiles which seem to have quite a lot of actual engagement, like comments. But of course many are not very engaging, so they look quite obviously fake, with the disproportionate like/comment ratio. A small number (let’s say 10%) of these profiles are verified accounts.
  • These people put real effort into their content (of course they do), resulting in a really long list of insta stories that I do not have the time nor energy to go through. However I saw at least one profile which has only 31 posts, basically a collection of some random videos and pictures that he finds funny, with no perceivable profit motive or “influencer ego” that I can see… yet he has 14k likes and obviously cared enough about likes to buy mine. I am confused.
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Drunken crayoning reveals angst. I don’t think I was in a relationship at that time though.

For some reason Instagram doesn’t let me open too many profiles/tabs at the same time (gives me errors) and I found myself having to refresh some pages repeatedly to get through. So I got tired of doing that and stopped my profile surfing.

What are the takeaways from this experience? On the digital security front, it is fortunate that my privacy settings are still set as private. That had not changed even though the hackers would have had ample opportunity to change it, or to hijack my account completely. I have also not observed any evidence of myself doing much else besides following profiles that I don’t know. I’m guessing (and hoping) that with my changing of the password, all this hanky panky will stop. I’m still maintaining this private account because I don’t want to lose the pictures inside, but I have built an active one linked to a new email account to post my sketches and drawings (it’s @juneysketches). I’ve also been using KeePass for managing my passwords nowadays, so the new passwords will be much harder to crack.

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Eva radiating joy in her Same Same (But Different) t-shirt, accompanied by our Wall of Awesome. Those were good days!

The other thought that I have is a little harder to pin down. I am fascinated, if a little repulsed, by the idea of being so desperate for likes that one has to buy them. This brings me back to a book that I read last year, I think it was the one by Douglas Rushkoff that talks about how all the value has been extracted out of the economy and people turn to virtual currency such as “likes”, which can then be converted back to real money through their influencer status. I suppose money begets money? If you invest real money in virtual likes, you may get the returns in real money as well. But then, these are the people who actually understand the rules of the game and are playing to win.

What about those who are actually relying on likes as a status symbol? Competing with their peers on virtual popularity, at the same time knowing that their own follower base is actually hollow and meaningless? How many layers of sad is that? So many layers. :(((

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My house mate had bought a twenty kilo jackfruit. We had jackfruit for a LONG time and I think the fridge never got over the smell.

In any case, I’m constantly reviewing my stance on social media. From being pretty careless about it to completely adverse, I have traversed the entire spectrum and am currently trying to strike a balance on having some sort of presence but curating and sharing mindfully. I think that the Indieweb concept is pretty good – basically you have all your content on your own website and syndicate them out to the platforms, so that you always own your content, and interactions on the SNSs come back to your website so that you don’t lose anything. The implementation is in the pipeline but I need to wait till Leo helps me to revamp this website to be compatible with Indieweb.

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Here’s a piece I was doing, drawing Leo’s mate with its metal straw (and look at the two stick figures perched on top, so cheesy hahah)

For the time being, it seems to be a matter of getting used to connecting with people online again, and enjoying the process of writing and drawing without being distracted by social media. A battle against the attention economy at large. Maybe it’s a muscle that one has to flex. Better start earlier than later.

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For some reason I made a filter of this screenshot of a chat I was having with XC, circa 2012. I still find it hilarious HAHAHA

Unrelated, one day later, when I pressed publish: Just found out that GE is now set on 9th May. Wednesday. ARGH fuck this shit.

I have finally finished the proposal for NGO workers! You can download it here. It explains the importance of the research and also how I plan to collect data and conduct the study. It’s not set in stone – I intend to incorporate any useful feedback that I get – but so far I’m happy with it.

I am reaching out to my networks to see if anyone might know of anyone who might want to fund it. It’s a long shot, but it was an issue that I had to get out of my system anyway. So let’s see what might happen. Feel free to send it around, let me know if you have any feedback/questions on the content of the proposal, or if you have any inkling of who I should talk to.

In general I’m looking for research-related jobs and work. While I have enough of reserves to keep me going for some time yet, I can feel the weight of my entire bloodline of Chinese forefathers nagging at me for not having a retirement plan (nor a stable income). The Tans do not sit around and wait for things to happen, they sigh disapprovingly, when I attempt to do so.

So, what to do. Find work loh. ^^ Preferably on an issue that I care about, but let’s see.

“Smell it, smell it!” He urged, while thrusting the stick of crayon in my face. “Doesn’t it smell like childhood?”

I’ve been attending art classes for a month now. I highly appreciate my teacher, K, even if he has crayon-smelling quirks. And I have to admit, they do smell like childhood.

Before K I actually tested out the neighbourhood art class, which seemed to be more daycare than art centre. I was almost ready to sign up to something, anything, that would make me start drawing again, but decided to try K’s class out before I executed the decision. K’s class is literally on the other side of KL, and it takes me a little more than an hour with public transport to get there. I was dubious that I would actually make that sort of commitment weekly – I’m not such a huge fan of commuting and my idea of accessible is ten minutes’ walk. (Daycare Art Class was a five minutes’ walk from my home. I was ready to sign on the dotted line.)

It was a sunny Sunday afternoon that I reluctantly dragged my ass out to Ampang. I arrived with very low expectations as Daycare Art Class with its shrill kids and tiny chairs did not have me aiming high. K was alone – his other students arrived late – and I had him to myself for twenty minutes.

“Everything starts with drawing. Even if you paint, if you don’t know the basics of drawing, you cannot paint properly. Learning art is like learning a language. Lines are the alphabet. You need to first master the lines, so that others will be able to understand what you are seeing.” He began, in the way of an introduction. I love languages. I was sold.

Here’s my first drawing – K had asked me to draw something, anything that I wanted. Because I have no imagination I chose to draw the table that was next to ours. He said that it was courageous to take on the first thing that I saw. I said nothing about my imagination. This was a good start.

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First drawing at art class, March 4, 2018. Previously all photos of my sketches had a blue tint to them, but then Andrew waved a magic wand and restored them so they now look tons better 😀 Thanks Andrew!

And so I started by practising lines. Then circles and ellipses. Then proportions. I realised that I am not half bad at proportions. It took a while to make bolder lines, but I realised that I more often than not found them visually (“hunt the lines down!” said K), even if my hands weren’t skilful enough at translating them to confident lines on the paper. But everything is about practice. K was always spot on in pointing out exactly where the problems were, so I could quickly improve it on the next piece of paper.

I sketched these two teapots in class. The first one is the first attempt, much more careful than the second one. But K liked the second one better because of the lines that are quicker and more confident. It takes all of my resolve to swallow my control freakiness and trust every stroke that goes down, even if they end up to be misplaced and I have to correct them later. The result may be less accurate, but with more character. A life lesson right there.

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Teapot, pointing to the left.

 

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Teapot, pointing to the right. Some strokes that don’t belong to the sketch were added when K was explaining how the line strokes should look and feel like. He also did the spout which kind of stands out if you look at it.

 

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Chair with bag hung on it, March 18 2018.

The two-hour lessons fly by like nothing. I started practising at home.

Here’s my cat series. I think sleeping Suki and Spot look fine but Uno looks like a devil-cat. This was before we learnt values and shadows so there’s not much going on in shading and contrasts except for the minimum.

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Sleeping Suki

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Sleeping Spot

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Uno, wide awake, probably on drugs with those eyes (Sorry little one!)

And here are some colour pieces that I did last week, in anticipation of this week’s foray into colour.

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Attempt at “Fulfilment by Gustav Klimt”. With colour markers.

I chose this because it is basically a colouring project, once the lines are down. Here’s the original. Google Arts and Culture is a treasure trove of masterpieces of the ages, if you want to dive in and imitate any master. You get to zoom in and see all the details up to the brush strokes.

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Tribute to Naomi Watanabe, also named Fuck You to Those Who Have Wronged Me. With colour markers.

Naomi has got such good energy, I couldn’t resist drawing this one. Besides the energy bit, I chose it because it was so colourful and is basically, again, a colouring project, since I don’t know how to mix colours yet.

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Original picture of Naomi Watanabe

This is a sketch that I did to try out the one point perspective technique.

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Inside the ambulance

There is a vanishing point, and a horizon, and all those architectural lines. I had no idea what I was doing at all – check out the dwarfy little paramedic on the bottom. K said that it is because of the values (shading) that he looks so weird. And the story of how I chose this one is that I was constantly thinking about perspective after reading a book on sketching, and when I was watching this Japanese drama with this ambulance scene, it struck me immediately that here’s a perspective! So I made a screenshot and sketched it. Here’s the screenshot.

Screenshot at 2018-03-25 08-36-59

Ambulance scene in Japanese Drama “Final Cut”

And this is what I did today.

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Still Life – That’s a Cricket Ball, Not An Apple. With wax crayons.

This is the first time that I’ve done still life with colour, I think. I must say that it was rather enjoyable, even though I’ve never been confident in using colour. But, as with many things in life, a good teacher is essential in pointing out the right way. I’ve realised that once I understand the concepts and ideas, it becomes much easier. Never use black or grey (they kill the painting) but instead mix different colours to end up with a black with life. Use a limited palette – mix the colours chosen to arrive at secondary colours so that the piece doesn’t look chaotic, but harmonious instead. I’m still trying to “feel” the colours – so that I can interpret what’s in front of me, into what will go onto the paper.

And what I like about K is that he gives memorable quotes from artists that he admires – he’s so in love with art and the masters that it is infectious. Said Vincent van Gogh, brush strokes should be executed like how an experienced lion strikes, placed at the exact position so that the prey is killed with one stroke. And said someone else important, art does not have to imitate reality, but the intensity should be the same. (I looked it up, this seems to be the actual quote, by Alberto Giacometti: “The object of art is not to reproduce reality, but to create a reality of the same intensity.”)

Suddenly, with K’s guidance, I have started to see. See, like never before. First it was the lines – I’m constantly molesting things with the imaginary pen that is my eyes, trying to measure one line against another. Then came the values – where is the light? Where are the shadows? Do they come from many sides? After that, perspectives. Where’s the vanishing point? Where are the invisible lines? (I cannot tell yet.) Then now, the colours. The blues in the greens, the contrasting colours in the shadows, the tones, the blends.

What’s the purpose of art? I haven’t quite found the answer – but – looking around – isn’t the world we live in truly wonderful?