Png:Sg Trip 01: Summary of my Penang Singapore Trip

January 13, 2014 | 2 Comments

Before I start the big scanning task of the 3 x A4 Moleskine sketchbooks from my recent trip to Penang (Malaysia) and Singapore, I thought I would do a summary post that records my initial ‘back home’ thoughts of the trip.

As I have said previously, my trips are not vacations in the terms of relaxation or even seeing all the tourist sights. They are more opportunities to spend some serous time focussing on sketching.

In the last 12 months or so they have also become opportunities for experimentation.

I am finding that because I am so greatly inspired by new sights and engaging in a special way with the scene in front of me, it is a perfect time to push the boundaries and try something different. In addition, the continual sketching gets me in the rhythm,  gets my artist brain ticking over and the creative juices start pumping big time.

I want to get myself in the mood where my sketches just flow … and this is my big agenda when I travel. I realize that this is different from most other peoples priorities when they travel – I have opportunities because I am travelling solo that most other people with spouses, family, friends do not have.

Not every trip offers the chance for serious time for sketching and thinking – for example my July trip to Barcelona/Cardiff/London was so full of socialising and being around people that it was hard to try anything other than use my ‘reflex sketching’ approach. There was also a big pressure to be a tourist in Barcelona as well – I don’t know if I will ever get back there. I tell myself on my more local trips in Australia and Asia that there are cheap flights and I might be back again soon (whether I will or not is another matter) and this takes away the burden of rushing around to see everything.

This years trip was broken into 3 parts. The key (from a sketching point of view) was the first where I had some time on my own.

Week 1: Solo in Georgetown Penang. 

I had  friends around (who I did catch up with), but in the main, most days I explored the historic area of Penang on my own. It gave me plenty of time to think and I was also inspired by meeting and sketching with Ch’ng Kiah Kiean (KK) and the Penang USKers.

I was thinking about how to achieve texture with watercolour….


and expressive lines (tried using a KK stick with ink and starting using my sailor calligraphy pen which doesn’t flow perfectly but was giving me lovely variation of line)

Also I often painted more than one sketch from the same location – here are sketch 2 and 3 at the jetties one afternoon.

Week 2: Church Conference and hanging out with local friends
(also some international friends that came for the conference)

Sketching was well and truly secondary to the great time I had with special friends – hearing and sharing the word of God.  However as I was already in the groove I was able to maintain short spurts of sketching in any free time. I often used the morning: the view from my hotel was perfect for doing some experiments with painting water – using some of the texture ideas I had explored the first week. (BTW I am not trying for realistic effects!)

Week 3: Singapore. On my own again… well not really. 

Hanging out with various members of the amazing SG USK group. They are a very serious group of sketchers – even though social, we always stopped talking and started sketching!

Lots of great art chat and ideas to think about… but I still made sure that I had plenty of time for some sketching on my own. Getting rather tired by this stage of my trip so I ended up spending a lot of time in air-conditioned cafes!

I  started using different brushes (more later) and trying to mix up painting and drawing.

Also thinking of different approaches for sketching food – rather than Lamy pen and round brush, I started using my Sailor Fude pen and a dagger or flat brush.

Anyway…there is a lot more to share but this is a little teaser of the full pages soon to start appearing!


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