Friday, July 25, 2014

Digital art museums?

 Mew at Bronte

(28 April 2014 - Acrylics on canvas)

As I worked through a seemingly labour intensive application form today, I had an art documentary keeping me company in the background.

It was on the growing trend of building and curating online art museums for mass consumption. As I sporadically tuned in to the conversation, I wondered if this is actually a good thing. How can it NOT be? It gives anyone, including me, a voice and potentially an audience. An audience that we, as artists, can only hope for. Without an interested (and buying) audience, the business side of ART remains ghoulishly pale in comparison to perma tanned complexion of ART'S hopelessly devoted artistic side.


(10 May 2014, Acrylics on canvas)

I have been trying to cajole my 'business' side to come out more. He emerges from a self-imposed exile every time I have to play the role of 'business' consultant but he returns to hibernation when he is not needed. He is the more organised and technical of the two. I solely rely on him in every activity I take on that is not tagged as artistic. My inner debates are normally between these two polarised characters. Calling truce is an ongoing battle!

Gajah - front

(16 June 2014, Homemade calico bag with hand drawn elephant motive)

BUT enough of that!
In this post, I offer art pieces and projects that I have completed in conjunction with my growing book writing commitments. I have even entered my sweet giraffe called 'Zirafah' in the 2014 Woolahra Small Sculpture competition. Wish me luck!!

Gajah - back

(16 June 2014, Homemade calico bag with hand drawn elephant derriere motive) 

The lady and the Crocchicdog

 (21 June 2014, Pencil and coloured pen on plywood)

Trennery Park

(20 July 2014, Acrylics on cardboard)


(25 July 2014, Weaved newspaper strips, celophane and polyurethane)


(25 July 2014, Weaved newspaper strips, celophane and polyurethane)

Kid's stories are not kid's play

Apologies for the extended interval since my last update.

In my earnest attempt to generate more readership interest in my art blog, 'Search Engine Optimisation 101' (alas, this is not real) advises me to create content that is interesting and insightful at a more regular and consistent rate. I soon made an earnest promise to myself to update weekly. I kept it up for 3 weeks.

I realised very quickly that I didn't have enough weekly content to provide, at minimum, a funny post. I even started to brainstorm for artistic pursuits that I can pursue to generate plausible content ("Maybe I can find some gallery event and be a reviewer?") but my concurrent projects (and a strict self-imposed no entertainment budget) hindered this well-meant intention. Nevertheless, this is still a poor excuse of an 'excuse'.

Rest assured, it has been a very creative, busy and challenging interval. In this entry, I have decided to reveal more illustrations from the children's books that I have completed. In summary, writing children's books have been an interesting process. Interesting in the sense that it challenged the way I seek approval of my reviewers and peers. It also made me think of my own ego and the way people review creative products.

I shall not provide too much description to the illustrations. Enjoy!


Monday, March 31, 2014

Nature: The Original Artist

(27 March 2014, Wax oil pastel on cardboard)

I recalled the first time I laid eyes on a Mandarin duck.

I was completely besotted and transfixed not so much for the physical shape of the drake but by its perfectly striking and complimentary colours. He was the perfect balance of black, white, red, purple, brown, orange and grey. All too much in the one animal.

I later saw a female duck and she was equally striking with her more subtle combination of grey, pink, blue and brown. Although the drake brutishly grabs my attention, I found the hen's colours more practical and because she holds the sole responsibility for the guidance and safety of her newly hatched ducklings, her brown hued body camouflages with the earthy tones of her surroundings. It is easy to pass her off as boring but when you look at her closely, you will be able to appreciate her in all her coloured glory.

Mother Nature is truly the original master painter and colourist. 
She is my only source of inspiration and knowledge for all shapes, colours and shading. More importantly, she guides me in the mixing and pairing of colours. Look at the ducks; their multicoloured-multihued feathers seem just right. For me, it is curious to wonder why certain parts of the duck is coloured in a certain way but as a whole, each coloured part contributes to a perfect collage.

If one was to trawl through the various sources of art theory and public response to the subject of "Why certain colours go well together?", personal taste appears to be a frequent reply. On a daily basis, consumers are bombarded with suggestions on what coloured items go well together. There are hundreds of fashion blogs and videos hosted by professional and amateur stylists and designers providing advice and ideas on this subject matter, based on colour, structure and textures. Some choose to go with more conservative combinations while others opt for bolder contrasts. However, the common thread to their choices is that they are all based on personal taste. When the suggested tips are consistently liked and followed, they are heralded for their taste. Their views are set as a standard for the masses and this drives consumer preference and ideals.

It is inevitable that our personal taste is influenced by many factors including our cultural background, aspirations and environment. We relate to certain advice because of it resonates with our aesthetic sensibilities. However, we as consumers can choose to ignore the popular advice and find our own individual sense of colour creativity.

Sketch of 'Boh Munyong'

(1 January 2014, ballpoint pen on paper)

To view a completed painting of this water buffalo, please refer to my blog article dated 16 March 2014.

Monday, March 24, 2014

The tale of a Gordon's Bay Spotted Wobbegong Shark and a passing Common Stingray

(24 March 2014, Acrylics-watercolours on paper)

The tale of Spotty Wobby and the nodding Ray Yay 
Camouflaged and hidden from plain sight,
Away from Gordon's Bay bright light,
Spotty Wobby senses with whiskers not slight,
On his own, with dedicated fight.

Not too far from him is incoming Ray Yay,
Creeping towards Wobby, without even a hey,
They don't normally have too much to say,
Not just today, like any other day.

Wobby's mind somehow feels contrite,
Deep in thought, feeding with delight,
Why do our parents spite?
My reasoning feels right, definitely dight.

Grey shadows appear, are they from the bay?
Clumsily moving towards me, surely it is not Ray Yay!
Annoying, prodding, please please go away,
Ray Yay nodded at me and then went away.
(Sitiwin, E., 24 March 2014, Bondi Junction, NSW)

The reason for my much elevated level of excitement......
 at Gordon's Bay yesterday was due to seeing a Spotted Wobbegong shark (Orectolobus maculatus) and at the same time, a passing Common Stingray (Dasyatis pastinaca).

As I have never seen a Spotted Wobbegong shark before, I was initially scared at what I was seeing. At first sight, I thought it was an awfully big sea Catfish. Catfish is a fresh water fish that I am completely familiar with and common in Borneo. This unfamiliar fish had sensing whiskers under its mouth (I found out that they are called sensor barbs) and they were constantly prodding into the sandy bottom. I guessed it was filtering for food and CH reminded me that it is a bottom feeder. Its colour fascinated me. As the light was fading fast, it gave Spotty Wobby, the nickname I bestowed to the shark, a 'green tea green-yellow' tinge. It was completely flat on the bottom and moved ever so slightly. My growing curiosity prompted me to dive in for a closer look and I watched Wobby, in awe of its continuously sensing whiskers. I later found out that Wobbegong sharks are quite aggressive and have been known to lacerate human flesh, when provoked. Yikes, good to know for future encounters!
Besides the shark, I spotted about 4 Common Stingrays, a bunch of Blue Garoupas, a Morwong and a healthy school of small fish. All in all, a very productive result for a last minute test of my newly purchased snorkel.

Bird Rock revisited

(23 March 2014, Watercolours on canvas)

I had initially completed this watercolour piece on the 28 September 2003 and I painted it sparsely. Its previous incarnation can be seen in my first post. I was using a technique I developed in my teens, which was semi-mechanical and devoid of warmth, if I say so myself.

Hence, an update was deemed necessary on my part. I hope it radiates the searing heat of that day I spent at Bird Rock all those years ago.

Dawdle the Mandarin Duckling

(23 March 2014, Wax pastels on cardboard)

My quest for my artistic enterprise to take flight continues and as mentioned in my last post, the business of art is tough. Hence, I need to diversify and I am and have been trying out different ideas that hopefully can lead to financial support and independence.

I present to you the illustrations of the yet to be titled first story of Dawdle the Mandarin Duckling. A lot of hard work awaits me. 
Till next week.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The artistic path of uncertainty and freedom

When I first started this blog...
my goal was to share my passion for creating art and to showcase my pieces with the world. 

I didn't want an over designed or complicated blog. I didn't want it to be stifled by templates and stagnant formats. I want it to have a simplistic and child like feel to art showing. I want it to not be hindered by rules or standards. Like how I produce my pieces, I want it to be free...

I have always dreamt of making a living out of my artistic pursuits but the gods of commerce demand uniformity, both in product display and approach. A buyer's world. But will this be in the way of true creativity and exploration? I think so.

I have been working very hard on my art portfolio in the last 8 months. Pursuing ideas, art and creative designs, without the promise of monetary security. 

I dearly hope that this dream becomes a reality this year. However, the true nature of 'hope' entails an ironic combination of 'happy success' and the highly plausible 'cruel disappointment'. Of course, I hope for success in every lead and endeavour I pursue. The key goal for me is to balance the enervating emotion of disappointment with the positive 'oh-so-small' forward steps.

If any of you out there have real contacts to 'nice individuals' in the art world, do let me know.

I am going to work on my children's story, 'Max the mandarin duck', in the next few days. Wish me luck :)

Boh Munyong   

 (13 January 2013, Acrylics on canvas) 

'Boh Munyong' means 'Water buffalo from Munyong' in Bidayuh. I spent some time in Borneo towards the end of last year, specifically in Munyong, Bau. When I saw this female buffalo, I was immediately attracted to the mud formations that had set on her undercarriage. More so, I simply found her beautiful. 

My aunty had tied her to a post and she was grazing in the area allowed by the radius of her leash. Every once in a while, she would yelp at her 'babies' that were not too far from her.  

There were some debate on her identity when I first uploaded this painting to my Facebook page. Bajit had apparently gored Sujak, a local guy, many years ago. 


Marilyn & Marion

(27 December 2013, Acrylics on canvas)


(20 January 2014, Acrylics on canvas)

I wanted to surprise my dear aunty Gertrude by doing a portrait of her after lunch on new year's day. I initially drew her on paper with a ball point pen but it ended up looking slightly lop sided. My reference photo was taken from a wedding my family went just a week before.

When I returned to Sydney, I had made up my mind to do two paintings: One of my aunt and one of the beautiful valley in Kiulu. It was a way for me to overcome homesickness. I must admit my choice of colours was rather muted as my reference photo was not very clear but I was quite happy with the results.

Black bean tree

(7 March 2014, Acrylics on cardboard)

The idea for this painting came when I went for a walk after a full day of brainstorming for project ideas. I wanted to clear my head and get a breath of fresh air. 
It turned out to be a glorious late afternoon and my eyes were immediately attracted to these striking trees grown on the side of the road, with their silvery foliage, peppered by the contracting black bean pods.
I wanted to draw it with soft pastel but I soon realised how difficult it was to get the right colour intensity on cardboard. 


(16 March 2014, Acrylics on cardboard)

Romina's birthday was coming up and she had expressed to me that she would like an abstract painting based on a pink-green-yellow-brown colour palate.

I initially wanted to paint in a straight abstract but I decided, at the last minute, to add a representation of her face to the composition of abstract shapes.

Creative design ideas: T-shirt, 3D cards and autostereograms

(T-shirt: 15 March 2014, Huntsman) 

(3D cards)


Acknowledging the practicality of selling art, I know that I need to diversify my 'products'. These were some of the results of my experiments in the last few months.

An uncertain path

(9 March 2014, Acrylics on canvas)

This painting is a metaphor of the life journey of many artists. A journey to the unknown but one continues to forge ahead. You look around and some times, you can feel and see an image of yourself, already successful sans worries. Alas, these images are never clear and never for certain. 


(16 March 2014, Acrylics on plywood)

My family went on a drive to Kiulu located about an hour away from Kota Kinabalu and known for white water rafting and mountain biking. A tropical shower had just finished and the ground was still wet. The air was saturated and heavy. The winding road was taking us further and further away from the nearest town and suddenly, we came across this valley. It is a normal view for many but for me, the composition was just perfect. I insisted on taking a few reference shots and the rest is history.

Fact: Plywood was used because I had a piece of recycled plywood lying around after I dismantled my IKEA drawer. I thought drawing a jungle valley landscape on treated plywood was appropriate. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Advent time is here...

A Sydney December...

Where has the year gone...? Suddenly, it is December and the year 2013 is almost finished. 

Sydney is very beautiful in the summer, especially if you are lucky enough to live close to the sea. We are blessed with good weather, particularly today. Everything just looks beautiful in the sun...

... even the wild flowers look so vibrant..

Poinsetti (Christmas flower) 

(Medium: Watercolour)

Inspired by recent effort, I wanted to continue painting in watercolour. To learn the subtlety of watercolour painting and the application of specific brush strokes, I had to stifle my bias (and ego) for acrylic and pastel and embrace watercolours. 

But I was quite happy with this effort. 

This painting is not big in size but for me, it is big in personality. I felt that I have come full circle in terms of my respect for this medium.

The actual image came from a tree in the back garden. It looks so beautiful in the sun...

Happy holidays!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Sydney's Drummer; Vibey Summer...

Sydney's Drummer; Vibey Summer

Summer is here, although one might be inveigled by the odd cold snap but the coruscating sun is definitely out, peppered with the odd spout.

My proclivity to immerse myself in any body of water is akin to an over excited natrium reaction. One might also associate such proclivities to a summer's habit but don't be fooled, I am in water all year round.

It has been an exciting few months. I have gotten to explore more artistic tangents and ideas, especially in projects that require more technical know-how. The interweb is pretty amazing source for literally anything. I have researched and created phone apps, studied spatial theory, created my version of the origami wallet, written songs and of course, played with other art mediums, to name a few. 

Without further a do...

Porter's Slate

(Medium: Acrylic)

I was walking home from the shops when I was looking down at the adjacent building's new pavement slates. Well, they are not exactly new but the relatively clean and untainted grey slate tinge gives me that impression. One of the building's resident is quite the ardent gardener; always foraging; forever pruning. But the nearby trees, with their jaune-marron leaves, create their own unique collage on these pavements. Subtle, random, ever beautiful. How can I not paint you? You are my catalyst to paint.

Casa en Chile

(Medium: Acrylic)

This painting started as a cost saving exercise. Ever the spend-thrift, I detest waste. I had just finished 'Jessie and the three bears' and I couldn't possibly waste the colours that were still left on my palette (well, a make shift palette made out of an old bowl). With no preparation or plan, I quickly went about creating the background layer of the painting. I wanted to create a piece based on the traditional houses of Chile. Why Chile? It's because my friends, Alex and Cote, are from Chile and I wanted to create an abstract based on a typical Chilean abode. Anyway, the foreground image is based on a photo I researched and it fit the canvas...appropriately. 

Le lac du Borget et Chambery

(Medium: Watercolours)

Watercolours have always been my bete noire. It was the first art medium taught to me and perhaps because I struggled to rein it in, this medium was never a favourite. I have always admired those who have mastered it. Beings with inertial gravitas. I have tried to improve my knowledge through hours and hours of gallery study, both in Sydney and abroad. But I discovered that it is not about control; rather it is about letting go. It is not about getting the exact definition but be content with the strokes that have been achieved, via your paint-soaked brushes.

Anyway, these two small pieces are my experiments with this medium after a ten-year hiatus. The scenes are based on a beautiful part of France. A place at its most stunning during l'hiver (winter).

Be expecting more watercolour pieces in the next ensuing months. 

Ester at the Cloey

(Medium: Watercolour pencils)

When I feel the urge of creating a watercolour effect, without the pain and frustration, I resort to my trusted watercolour pencils. First introduced to me by a former housemate, back in the nineties, I have never looked back. They are so good for quick sketches and studies. This particularly beautiful subject is the daughter of my very good friends. I wanted a simple narrative and composition but creating portraits, regardless of medium, is a tricky affair.


(Medium: Ball point pen)

One of my most favourite things to do, while travelling, is to doodle. I would doodle to my heart's content. When there is nothing else to do, I doodle on. Cock a doodle do!

But this particular occasion, the result was quite strange. My family would attest that I have an affinity for eyes and faces. This 'drawing' would not disappoint them. Anyway, I never know what comes out from a doodle session and hence, the wicked attraction.


I don't generally buy cards, except on the odd occasion when I know the recipient is not receptive to 'homemade' cards (and I have experienced the wrath of such people). I thought I'd share some of the cards that I have designed. They are customised to taste and preference but normally, they are a product of my whim and mind implosion.

Last but not least, I wanted to show you what one can do with a bit of homemade latex (wonderful melange of gelatin, glycerin and water) and face paint. I must admit, it was quite an enjoyable experience. Another tangent to explore? Hallowed Eve = Create Scars To Scare.

Until the next entry....