Monday, September 26, 2016

TESTING COLOURS: Keeping Visual Information to Minimum

How do you paint water? How do you know that what you are painting is water? Using three primaries again, I did a quick sketch of a tethered dinghy on calm water. How do you know there is water? 

Well, the reflection is one dead giveaway. But the second clue is the boat itself - what do you think when you see a boat? Unless indicated otherwise, chances are that you mind will be looking for the boat's support - the water that it is usually sitting in. Whether it is a lake or a river, or even the sea. And when you find a reflection beneath the boat, your mind will confirm what you are seeing is a boat on water that you are seeing. 

So in sketching, the trick is to keep your pieces simple, with just enough information to let the viewer fill in the rest.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

TESTING COLOURS: The Power of Primaries

Although it is well known that the three primaries of yellow, red and blue make up a host of other colours in the spectrum, few of us prefer to have premixed secondary colours because it is easier to get the colours right every time. I feel that if we are to learn to use only the three primaries, we can train our minds to pick out the right mix every time too.

This cluster of vegetables, a cauliflower, two tomatoes, a cucumber and two chillies were painted using only three colours - yellow, blue and red - which are the known primaries. When mixed in varied proportions, primaries give a stunning variety of colours under the rainbow.

The cauliflower was created using blue + yellow and a tinge of red; the tomatoes using red + yellow and a trace of blue; and the cucumber two shaded of green using blue + yellow and overlapped; while the red chillies were created using red + yellow with a bias towards yellow. The shine on the tomatoes and chillies were created by lifting off. The patterns/texture on the cauliflower were created by natural pigmentation - happy accidents, watercolourists call it.

WHY IT WORKS: In strict sense, you dont need a full set of colours in a 12 or 16-plate palette to do a good representation of your subjects. Understanding the power of primaries can give you that advantage of creating harmonious compositions as can be seen here. Every single colour placed shares a component colour of the other. How can that be not harmonious?

Saturday, September 10, 2016

National Monument @ Kuala Lumpur

I was in a hurry to get away from the tourists that I forgot to sign this work!
I have always wanted to sketch the National Monument but had always been intimidated by the figures, the sheer size of them and the various poses that make up this bronze structure which marked the nation's struggle towards Independence. Finally today, armed with a simple Kokuyo watercolour set and a Rotring sketch pen, I decided to grab the bull by its horns. This above is the result.

The drawing took me
 less than 15 min
The National Monument is located within the Lake Gardens area, just behind the monolothic Cenotaph. It is surrounded by a moat and fenced up. I decided to only keep to the monument because of the challenging conditions - getting the proportions of the figures right and deal with foreshortening. Instead of trying to draw what I knew, I decided to allow my experience in countour drawing to take over. And this drawing technique came to my rescue.

Colouring was much easier, with two layers of paint to depict the different tones and a combination of earth colours and blues aided in showing the greenish-brown disposition of the oxidised bronze statues. The flag was simply painted with stripes of red across the white paper. It would have been great if the day had been windy as I could capture the flag full blown.

He was preparing to shoot
when my photographer snapped
his picture first. He left.
Not making it any easier were the hordes of tourists who were there. Some just looked over my shoulder without commenting; others complimented. There was one Chinese tourist who decided he wanted a close look over my shoulders when my photographer decided to take a snap of him, and when he realised this, he decided to keep his camera and walk away.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Capturing the icon of Alang Sedayu

This red bridge was built across the Alang Sedayu's Sungai Pisang to link the main road to the Jungle Lodge side of the forest reserve. The water level of the river is low even though it had been raining almost every evening. I arrived here this morning and managed to get down to one of the large boulders in the middle of the river to paint this scene. Usually it will be waist deep and there is no way to place my stuff.

Surprisingly this river is still clean. It's beginning is from the Sungai Pisang waterfalls, a couple of kilometres away, across the Karak Highway. This recreational forest north of Selangor, on the Gombak-Bentong main road, was opened in the 1990s and despite its proximity to the city, it is still not much frequented by locals. Only groups here are those doing their team building and school events.