And it was done.
After nights of sketching, backed by some last minute research, I have completed the colour pencil portrait of my parents and framed it up in time for their ruby wedding anniversary.
Mum joked that I should have sketched a more current, and wrinkled version of them, in place of the smooth, youthful faces in their original wedding photograph.
Dad, who happens to be a non-practising alumnus of the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, was tempted to launch his critique of the sketch the moment I unveiled it in front of them.
He smiled and took a long look at the sketch. Then he said, “You could’ve used a darker hue to shade the face. And my neck is not that long.” Mum pointed out that he was much thinner 40 years ago so his neck did appear longer in the photograph.
“Look, your hair is finally visible too,” Mum added. She noticed that I had replaced the background colour. Dad’s neat crop of Brylcreemed hair, previously swallowed by the darkness in the poorly lit studio, could now be admired in its full glory. At least that was what I was hoping for.
And so, other than the disagreement over the exact length of Dad’s neck, both seemed rather pleased with the final product.
I guess that means I have passed the biggest test of the year.
Let me share the results in the final hours of 2012.
The completed colour pencil sketch, based on my parents’ black and white wedding photograph. My way of adding colours to their 40-year marriage.
A closer look at the final product.
Posted in days to remember, the idle doodler | Tagged myvanillaworld year-end wedding anniversary ruby portrait colour pencil sketch drawing art 2012 | 2 Comments »
Counting down to the delivery date for my sketchy little project.
Amazing how you could start out on something thinking that you’ve got all the time in the world, only to realise in a blink of the eye, that time’s up.
So I decided it was time to hurry down to the public library near my workplace to do some last minute research on orchids. I definitely can’t sketch a decent petal without having a photograph to refer to.
Haven’t visited a library in a long time. Hovered around the children’s section for a few seconds before I realised that books for adults were located on the second floor. Felt like a tourist in Biblioland. Wonder what my band mate, Ivan, would say about that.
I walked up the stairs to the adult section. The first shelves I came across held rows of books on law, crime and military history. Got distracted by a book on maverick military leaders for a couple of minutes before I recalled what I was there for and headed towards the gardening literature.
To my delight, there was a shelf of books on orchid cultivation waiting for me. There was even one on the Asian varieties by a local gynaecologist who had cultivated several award-winning hybrids. Excellent. Now I can cultivate my orchids on my sketch paper.
Frankly, I can’t tell from my parents’ photograph the type of orchid my dad had in the corsage on his suit jacket. Neither can I see what my mum had in her bridal hand bouquet. I’m no orchid expert and can’t tell a specie from its outline. There’s only so much I can gather from a black and white photo that well, definitely predates my existence.
I guess I could try to imagine what colours they would have liked to mark their big day with decades ago. Perhaps a dash of whimsical pink here and some romantic lilac there? Let’s see what clues these books might offer.
Posted in days to remember, the idle doodler | Tagged anniversary, art, colouring, myvanillaworld, orchids, sketch, wedding | 2 Comments »
Spent my Sunday afternoon toying with my two old boxes of colour pencils.
The wood has become dry and brittle to the touch. And the pencil leads kept breaking in defiance whenever I tried to sharpen them.
I haven’t taken any proper lesson in colour pencil drawing before, so I am rather clueless about the palette to use for the portrait and how best to apply the strokes. Since the original photo is monochrome to begin with, I guess much will be left to my imagination.
So this was what I ended up with after an afternoon of experimentation. A sketch of my father’s youthful face with colour codes jotted on the sides, so that I would remember the colours to apply when I finally pluck up the courage to transfer them onto the actual portrait.
Striving for the best colour mix to create a healthy tanned look – he used to spend much time outdoors in his youth. But my test colours looked either too light or too sallow.
I’d better do more research on colour sketching methods before I work on the actual portrait.
Posted in days to remember, the idle doodler, thinking aloud | Tagged anniversary, art, color, colour, myvanillaworld, palette, pencil, portrait, sketch, test | 1 Comment »
Finally got around to buying a block of A3 drawing paper after realising that the ones I have at home are too small for the frame that I bought.
Yes, I know my priorities. They’re just different from other people’s sometimes.
The wooden IKEA frame I bought probably didn’t require much sculpting. But looking at it sitting pretty and purposeless on my floor, I can’t help but think that it deserves more than a plastic shrink wrap for company. It’s time I get back to the portait I was working on.
Still doing the grids and outlines. The smaller sketch I did earlier comes in handy somewhat since this is my first attempt at a sketch this ‘big’.
The real challenge will come when it’s time to add the colours. Let’s deal with that later.
Starting my sketch on a bigger canvas now.
Posted in days to remember, the idle doodler | Tagged anniversary, art, myvanillaworld, portrait, sketch, wedding | Leave a Comment »
I’m rather thankful for the revival of those big round retro glasses.
Got myself a pair a week ago and I’m absolutely loving the clarity of vision I’m enjoying now. With smaller lenses, my vision would have blurred whenever I rolled my eyes (not that I do that often) or looked out of the corners of my eyes (I don’t snoop around much either). Didn’t notice the difference until I put on this new pair of goggles.
In the meantime, I think I am looking very much like an owl, like the one perched on my shoulder here, though not half as adorable as one. Way past the age to be associated with that sort of attribute anyway.
In case you are wondering, this little bird is a Scops Owl. And she’s a distant relative of the cute one spotted on this lovely blog, at least on paper.
Don’t ask me how it ended up on my shoulder though.
Wait a second. This hair’s getting a little unruly.
Time to get a trim.
Posted in the idle doodler, thinking aloud | Tagged comic, glasses, illustration, myvanillaworld, owl, pen, retro, scops, self portrait, sketch | 1 Comment »
Woke up one morning to the busy lyrical exchange going on outside my window.
Some birdies had convened on the treetops close by, perhaps having a break after their breakfast of grubs.
One was singing a low steady note. Then another would respond with a quicker tune, at a higher pitch.
In the distance, a tinier voice joined in like it was in a hurry to make its point heard.
They went on and on for what seemed like a long time as I laid in bed, listening and smiling at their very entertaining conversation.
So here are the minutes of that early morning meeting attended by those avian friends outside my window.
Posted in days to remember, the idle doodler, thinking aloud | Tagged avian, birds, breakfast, chorus, illustration, meeting, morning, musical notes, myvanillaworld, singing, sketch | 2 Comments »
Sing a melody and everyone around you could be playing it to a different beat in his/her head.
That’s what I realised after making my latest half-yearly appearance on my ccMixter (ccM) page. (In case you are wondering, ccM is a Creative Commons-licensed music-sharing site and home to an international music-loving community.)
I was halfway through the first of John Campbell’s two-volume biography of Margaret Thatcher when “The Iron Lady” reached our shores.
The combination of Campbell’s vivid writing and Meryl Streep’s exemplary acting set me thinking: what could have gone through a person’s mind – and a famously tough one – when she was faced with naysayers and obstacles in her path to the top?
So I wrote a song.
The title, “Heart of Steel”, is admittedly nothing creative for a song inspired by a book and a film about a lady with a metallic nickname.
It’s not a political commentary, just a song about an imaginary emotional world of a person. This person could be anybody.
In our quotidian lives, we too would come across people who do not share our dreams and beliefs, challenge us or even try to put us down. I’m not doing a poll here but my guess is that there could perhaps be some kind of universal experience shared by those determined souls who doggedly pursue their dreams and succeed against all odds.
Anyway, when the Muse visits, he would usually present me with either the lyrics or the melody each time. It’s always one or the other, but they hardly appear together. So I was somewhat excited when the lyrics and melody came to me together this time. This is definitely a rarer occurrence than the transit of Venus happening next week.
And so, I recorded this vocal track on my iMac with an imaginary piano playing in my head. (No, I still can’t play any instrument decently.) I had to keep my imaginary accompaniment simple; it can get rather confusing when I record a cappella stems without any real music track.
Not long after posting the stems on ccM, I received two pleasant surprises.
One fellow ccM musician, Jeris, showed me that this track could be given a Celtic treatment. Another ccM musician, stellarartwars, responded later with a dubstep version.
This is amazing.
The beauty of music mesh-ups is that you can’t predict what you’re going to get when you share your music. And it is intriguing how people could come up with songs that sound so different when they are presented with the same raw materials.
I don’t know how this works in our brains.
One thing’s for sure: this world gets a lot more musically interesting when we share the songs playing silently in our heads.
Posted in my music box, thinking aloud | Tagged biography, ccM, ccMixter, Creative Commons, film, Heart of Steel, inspiration, Iron Lady, John Campbell, lyrics, Margaret Thatcher, melody, Meryl Streep, mesh up, movie, music, myvanillaworld, songwriting, transit of Venus | 3 Comments »