Sunday, August 30, 2015

More Sketches from Singapore

While I really enjoyed attending Urban Sketchers Symposium in Singapore, I had very little time outside of the workshops to sketch on my own, so I woke up early before the first workshops to sketch the nearby scenes. Singapore has a fascinating mix of modern and old buildings and multi-ethnic history, and I wanted to capture as much of it as I could. All the watercolors were done directly in my sketchbook without any preliminary pencil or pen lines - a lot of times that's the fastest way to jot down an impression!

On the very first day, my flight was delayed so it was around 7am by the time I arrived at the hotel. I dropped my bags and headed off to Sultan Mosque in Kampong Glam section of the city.

This mosque is at the end of Arab Street, which is lined with shophouses with various stores and restaurants below. From this view I could see the tip of the minaret of the mosque.

I joined a group sketchwalk in the afternoon at Purvis Street. I like the contrast of gray modern highrise in the background and colorful shophouses in the foreground.

On next day I went inside the courtyard of Raffles Hotel, which is a white colonial-style building. This sketch came out too busy with lots of elements, but it still reminds me of the peacefulness of that morning. 

I went to Waterloo Street on following day on recommendations from several sketchers. It was fascinating to see a Jewish synagogue, a Christian church, a Hindu temple and a Buddhist temple near each other on the same street. This one is a very quick impression of Sri Krishnan Temple from afar.

I had more time to sketch this Kuan Im Temple the next day, which happens to be right next to Sri Krishnan Temple (coincidentally represented by a stamp from the Symposium on the left - big thanks to the organizers for providing a fun souvenir!)

Another must-have element in Singapore is food. Everything I ate tasted great, and there are a wide array of cuisines that blend Malay, Chinese, Indian, Eurasian and Peranakan influences. I usually don't sketch food because I'd rather be eating though it helped to get some pointers I learned from food sketching activity led by Anita Ryanto: use warm colors, and you can add texture to watercolor washes by sprinkling salt (which should be pretty easy to find if you are eating!) The dish below is Nasi Lamak sketched during the activity.

I do take my trusty Uniball Signo gel pen out to do small, quick "reference notes for later" type of sketches. This is a collage of odd and ends relating to food. The empty brown eggshell and teh (tea with condensed milk) on bottom right are remnants of kaya toast breakfast - the toast is not in the sketch because I ate it before I remembered to draw it :-)

I also made sure I didn't miss Gardens by the Bay. One of the attractions there are 16-story structures covered with a vertical garden called Supertrees. They are similar scale and shape to naturally tall trees, and they are lit up at night. The sketch below doesn't do justice, even after I added blue wash for night sky at home (It's a struggle to do watercolor painting in the dark), but it was a magical sight.

I also visited Cloud Forest at the Gardens, which is a plant conservatory with tallest indoor waterfall in the world. Interior is kept misted and cool while glass windows let in the sunlight. Backlighting on the plants as I peered and painted through the grotto added to the their beauty. Here are a few photos and some small sketches. The purple background on the second sketch was painted at home - I'm still learning to get dark colors really quickly on location!

People take elevators up to start their visit at the the top, and walk down spiral walkway. Fortunately I am not afraid of heights, but I made sure I held onto my pen and sketchbook while I was sketching so I don't drop them! The space was tight and I tried to squeeze against the railing to let a continuous stream of visitors pass through, so I did the linework on location, and painted this sketch at home.

After a whirlwind of sketching in Singapore, I went to Cambodia with a group of fellow urban sketchers - more sketches will be posted soon!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Sketching at Urban Sketching Workshops in Singapore

I really enjoyed attending Urban Sketchers Symposium in Singapore - the energy of people gathering to draw on location is contagious! I appreciate the hospitality shown by local sketchers, and it was fun to meet new sketching friends in addition to meeting familiar sketching friends I met over the last few symposiums.

I've taken some workshops at the Symposium to concentrate on learning to paint as opposed to "drawing with color". In the meantime, I also took workshop taught by Lapin on 180 Degree Sketching to capture the scene as if with a fisheye lens - and it was a lot of fun to think of perspective in an organic way.

Workshop taught by Nina Johansson was about observing and expressing how the light tend to fade from the sky to the ground. This Selegie Arts Centre was part of many shophouses on Prinsep Street. The wedge shape and different colors on the building made it challenging and fun to paint at the same time.

Workshop taught by Shari Blaukopf was about using a big brush to paint in broad strokes. This helps to cover the paper with paint quickly to better capture the moment. This is a view of the National Museum, which is at the same place where Worldwide Sketchcrawl took place. Painting in hot, humid conditions meant that my washes (and paints in my palette) almost never dries completely, so it was hard to add darker colors without it running. I finished adding some dark values at home for this piece.

Workshop taught by Matthew Brehm was about learning to study the color values and making clean watercolor washes. I did many thumbnail sketches at Singapore Management University - this is one of them. Singapore has a bright light that is ideal for seeing the contrast on the buildings very clearly.

While sketches I do at workshops are typically not my personal best, I know what I learned at the workshops will sink in and help me advance my sketching skills - so I did as much sketches as I could in the short amount of free time I had in Singapore. More of those sketches will be posted later as I finish scanning them....

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Illustration Friday: Heart

An oldie but a goodie - this is an illustration I did a long time ago, and happened to fit this week's Illustration Friday topic, "Heart".

I've been busy scanning my artwork - more to be posted soon!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

An Afternoon Outing, Sketching by the Sea

I spent a bit of afternoon sketching with Pete Scully, who was visiting Santa Monica - his account of the weekend is here.

While I've sketched at Santa Monica Pier numerous times, sketching together and chatting with a fellow sketcher made me look at the familiar scene with fresh eyes. Using a panoramic format (a Handbook panoramic sketchbook that I found in my stack of sketchbooks) made me notice the expanse of the ocean and the sky. I don't like the crease in the middle of the spread, but this sketch is a fun reminder of escaping my daily routine in my own town.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

47th Worldwide Sketchcrawl at Venice Canals

Shiho Nakaza "Los Angeles" sketch sketching sketchcrawl Venice "Venice Canals" watercolor

For Worldwide Sketchcrawl, the Los Angeles group went to Venice, which is a section of the city modeled after the Italian city with the canals. (This Wikipedia article shows the photo taken from the same section of the canal I happened to be sketching, if you're curious.)

It was an overcast but still a beautiful day to sketch, and it was convenient to not have to wear sunglasses to shield my eyes from typically glaring sun. I had to leave early, so here is only sketch of the day, done in about 30-45 minutes, standing up with my sketchbook propped on a trash can. (The last time I sketched at the canals was also overcast - I took more time with this sketch.)

Big thanks goes out to Stephanie Lowe for bringing her Ánimo High School students to sketchcrawl! It was good to see young urban sketchers at work.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Colorful Kites On the Beach

Shiho Nakaza "Los Angeles" "Santa Monica" beach watercolor watercolour sketch painting "plein air" kites festival

The beach by Santa Monica Pier was transformed by colorful kites puncturing the usually flat blue of the sky this weekend when Kite Festival sponsored by Otis College took place. I used a mix of wet and dry brush strokes in the sky to show movement. Otis College provided small white square kites that people decorated, and those kites happened to fly among big kites set up by a corporate event next to them. I haven't flown a kite since I was a kid myself, so it was fun to see kids flying kites with help from their parents.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Costume Sketching at WonderCon

I enjoy sketching people dressed up in creative costumes at WonderCon event even though I am too pop-culturally clueless to recognize most of the characters. It's always fun to sketch cosplayers who are posing still for photos, but it's even more fun and challenging to sketch those who are caught in casual moments like drinking coffee, chatting with each other or texting (sometimes doing all three at once). This year, there was even a sketching gnome!

shiho nakaza "los angeles" sketching people costume cosplay wondercon watercolor pen