drawing

4 days of sketching and cycling Taiwan by erwin lian

Took part in Taiwan's Brompton World Championship racing event last weekend at Chang Hua.
Went a few days early and did a little bit of sketching and cycling here and there.

Tools:
1) My Brompton
2) A pocket sized Accordion Moleskine.
3) Clutch Pencil, Kneaded eraser and a sharpener

Day 1:
Started from my hotel, near Taipei Main Station to Dihua Street. Was planning to sketch some of the beautiful buildings there but ended up cycling aimlessly.... until I stopped at a beautifully lit building.

The lights falling off this building and trees caught my attention.

The lights falling off this building and trees caught my attention.

Sketch of a Street Scene near Dihua Street.

Sketch of a Street Scene near Dihua Street.

Rode up north and cycled along the river near Shilin. 

Saw a dead bird when I cycle back to Taipei Main Station.

Saw a dead bird when I cycle back to Taipei Main Station.

Stop by Yuan Shan to attend a figure drawing session. Model switch poses like clockwork. 5 minutes, clock vibrates and she switched.  There's a rather distinctive Taiwanese feature on her and I couldn't pin down what it is. 

Stop by Yuan Shan to attend a figure drawing session. Model switch poses like clockwork. 5 minutes, clock vibrates and she switched.  There's a rather distinctive Taiwanese feature on her and I couldn't pin down what it is. 

Stop by CCH Studio to attend a figure drawing session. It was a great gathering and I sat beside a retiree.  The studio was packed and the instructor was very welcoming and friendly. I really dig it. 

Day 2 : I woke up early to cycle along Tamshui and check out the market. 

tamsui.jpg
My Sketching Companion & Tools 

My Sketching Companion & Tools 

Stop by Jian Tan and noticed that the shops have changed from a few years ago. New bicycle shops and this Louisa Coffee Cafe

Stop by Jian Tan and noticed that the shops have changed from a few years ago. New bicycle shops and this Louisa Coffee Cafe

Day 3:
Taipei drizzled a little and its time I escape to Taichung via HSR. When I got to Taichung, I have assembled my bicycle again and got some Milk Tea at a local 85c Cafe. Sketched some scooters here before I cycle my heart out just to Taichung Confucius Temple. Only 30 minutes to sketch this scene. 

Taiwan's national commute = The Scooters. Their daily dosage of hugs and snuggles.

Taiwan's national commute = The Scooters. Their daily dosage of hugs and snuggles.

confucious.jpg
Got to rest early before I take part in the cycling race tomorrow at Chang Hua 

Got to rest early before I take part in the cycling race tomorrow at Chang Hua 

Gotta look sharp when riding a bicycle in Taiwan. 

Gotta look sharp when riding a bicycle in Taiwan. 

Day 4: Brompton World Championship day at Chang Hua

Didn't bring a cover and was hoping to not get caught in the Train.. hehe lucked out 

Didn't bring a cover and was hoping to not get caught in the Train.. hehe lucked out 

I woke up early to take the local train to Taichung HSR but jumped on the wrong train. Instead of one-stop south to Changhua, I went on an express train and it shot passed all stations and reached Zuoying. I love the HSR and actually didn't mind this incidental round island affair. Jumped onto the next train North and got to the race, on time. Nope. they didn't charge me extra .... this is probably the trick to get a total HSR ride down and up for a fraction of the real cost :P 

I made it to the race on time, after all !

I made it to the race on time, after all !

Race of 12 Km and the fastest guy finished in about 19 minutes. 

Race of 12 Km and the fastest guy finished in about 19 minutes. 

My entire trip in a piece :) 

My entire trip in a piece :) 

Overall, a great trip. 
Thank you all my Taiwanese friends who came out to spend time with me.
 

Cycling from Seoul to Busan ( 4 rivers cycling pathway) by erwin lian

 

Sept 5.  2017
I packed my tiny bicycle and flew to Korea. 

Needed to discard more stuff for the trip.  Excess baggage is bad.

Needed to discard more stuff for the trip.  Excess baggage is bad.

This was a rather spontaneous trip and a much needed one for me to clear some matters off my head.  Besides, I enjoy being out and about, getting lost and figuring my ways around. It’s something I always wished I could do in college but was never financially capable. Given my present good health, a bit of saving and plenty of down-time from work, I thought it was high-time I complete these to-dos.

Brompton all packed and ready 

Brompton all packed and ready 

Flight to Seoul. Quite a pleasant flight.

Flight to Seoul. Quite a pleasant flight.

Not really a sketching trip:
Since I wanted to pack as little as possible, I only managed to bring a tiny sketchbook and broke a few decent brushes to fit them into a small hard-case.  To shrink everything down, I brought 2 tiny plastic cups and used them as water containers. With two set of cycling attires, some washing detergent, I am off to Korea’s 4 rivers cycle path way.  My goal is to reach Busan from Incheon via her dedicated 600+km cycling path. I had about 7 days to do so and did not plan much. Fortunately, I found someone’s itinerary on google map and it was super nifty. Thanks John Graham
 

Map I found online that got me through the entire trip.

Map I found online that got me through the entire trip.

Day 1:
I woke up around 8/9 am and took the airport train to Cheongna In’t City Station. Inflated my tires and proceeded to the starting point at Ara West Sea Lock. I also bought a mini passport to collect all the stamps along the way.

Journey of a 1000 miles began with one step. Starting point at Ara Lock 

Journey of a 1000 miles began with one step. Starting point at Ara Lock 

Today, I rode more than 60km to Seoul and stayed overnight in a motel near Gil-Dong. It rained a little but thankfully not too heavy and I managed to arrive safely.  Daily routine of washing clothes began...

Rained a little but I got to Gil Dong.

Rained a little but I got to Gil Dong.

Day 2:
Rode about 100 Km today towards Yeoju and passed by the city of Hanam to arrive at Sun Valley Hotel in Yeoju. It’s a water theme-park hotel and costed a little more but I thought there would be a nice view for me to do some sketching. Passed by numerous tunnels built specially for cycling today; It was spectacular.

Check into Sun Valley hotel with a super nice view of the river and did a sketch 

Check into Sun Valley hotel with a super nice view of the river and did a sketch 

Day 3:
Woke up super early today at 6 to start my ride at 7.  It was a little foggy and I met Gaith from Canada and Mangi from Korea during today’s ride. We rode about 100km to Suan Bo. At first, I was feeling ambitious and wanted to try for 150 km.  Mangi laughed and didn't think I can make the distance. I forgotten that I will be facing some serious elevation pass Suan Bo until Gaith busted out his maps and discussed about the journey ahead. We reached Suanbo and I checked into a hot spring hotel.  Suan Bo was a quiet town with a bunch of restaurants and hot spring motels.

Met Gaith and Mangi along the way. Mangi was super nice and paced down to accompany me all the way to Suan Bo. I felt bad slowing him down.

Met Gaith and Mangi along the way. Mangi was super nice and paced down to accompany me all the way to Suan Bo. I felt bad slowing him down.

Checked into Suan Bo

Checked into Suan Bo

Day 4:
Woke up at 6 and started my ride a bit before 7. It was super foggy and the climb started right after away. There were a few teaser climbs before the eventual climb…500 metres over a stretch of 5km. The down ride was superrrrrr fun.

Climbing is always a struggle and more so if you are fixated with the thought of pain.

Climbing is always a struggle and more so if you are fixated with the thought of pain.

I reached the peak eventually :) It was gorgeous. 

I reached the peak eventually :) It was gorgeous. 

I eventually made it to the top.  It was a really pleasant feeling and I wanted to hang out there for a little more but have some serious distance to go .

I eventually made it to the top.  It was a really pleasant feeling and I wanted to hang out there for a little more but have some serious distance to go .

It took me a while and I struggled a little with my tiny bike. Since I don’t know where I am going and how far it will take, I throttle ahead.Eventually I reached the peak.

This stretch from Suan-Bo toward Mueng Yong is the most beautiful . It also happen to be the most strenuous. I don't know if they planned it that way. 

This stretch from Suan-Bo toward Mueng Yong is the most beautiful . It also happen to be the most strenuous. I don't know if they planned it that way. 

100 km later, I reached Nakdong-Ro at about 5pm and check into a small love motel. Those funky lights they had in these love motels were awful. Accidentally, I flipped them on a few times and thought I entered a haunted house. It was funny.

Day 5:
Mega foggy day. Though I intended to ride down to Hyeongpung-Myeon, I realized from the weather forecast that I may be cycling into a thunderstorm. The forecast indicated 95% rain. Decided to jettison today’s destination and cycled into Daegu. Checked into a nice hotel and will take the KTX (bullet train) to Busan tomorrow. That way, I can spend an entire day in Busan. One free day in Seoul too.

Checked into a hotel in Daegu and got upgraded to a suite.  Super good sleep

Checked into a hotel in Daegu and got upgraded to a suite.  Super good sleep

Best sleep through the journey. No funky lights in this hotel :P 

Best sleep through the journey. No funky lights in this hotel :P 

Day 6:
It poured in Daegue and the forecast was right. It rained all through Busan. Managed to jump onto the subway, then KTX and kept myself mostly dried.

Haedong Yonggunsa is so sublime. I paid my respect to the Buddha here and thank everything for the safe journey. I got lucky and saw the storm from the distance. 

Haedong Yonggunsa is so sublime. I paid my respect to the Buddha here and thank everything for the safe journey. I got lucky and saw the storm from the distance. 

When the rain stopped in Busan, I hopped onto the subway and cycled to Haedong Yonggunsa, a 14th century seaside Buddhist temple. It was magnificent and I speed sketch a little of the coast.  Fukuoka (Japan), from what I remembered is just about a boat ride from Busan.

A quick sketch in The Perfect Sketchbook pocket

A quick sketch in The Perfect Sketchbook pocket

 

Spend the night feasting sashimi at Jagalchi Market. Kind of crazy to be chewing down moving octopus.

Checked out Gamcheon Cultural Village before I set off to Seoul . I envy artists from abroad having spaces to work their craft. I read that there are lot of artists who lived out here. 

Checked out Gamcheon Cultural Village before I set off to Seoul . I envy artists from abroad having spaces to work their craft. I read that there are lot of artists who lived out here. 

 

Day 7:
Took the KTX back to Seoul. Cycle a little through the city to stayed near Hongdae. Lots of hills in Seoul but it was quite fun to cycle through the back alleys and narrow streets. Eventually, I reached my hotel room and explored the nearby universities and fashion streets.

Finally got to sketch Seoul a little. 

Finally got to sketch Seoul a little. 

Day 8:
Time to ride back to Incheon from Seoul. Today I got more time to sketch along the way and did a few tiny sketches before eventually resting in a hotel at Incheon. My cycling trip is finally over.

Finally some time along the cycling path. 

Finally some time along the cycling path. 

Farewell Seoul :) 

Farewell Seoul :) 

Can Drawing be Taught ? by erwin lian

Every time I tell people that I teach drawing.  I am faced with this assumption that it cannot be taught. 

portfolio_workshop_students2.jpg

Half in jest, I often joke about artist profiles that stated how young they were when they started or how long they have served as apprentice to famed artists. These profiles seem to incite a sense of head-start, discouraging others from joining if they have discovered Art later in life.  It is also worthy to note that romance occupied the arts. 

Many love this notion that an artist is born, never made. To me, that’s a little ludicrous. Imagine a baby born and the next thing you know, picked up a pencil and started drawing ! A true and natural talent, ya ? I would personally run if I witness such prodigy ! (traditional arts we talking about here BTW)

Many Asians have this tradition that 'predicts' the future of their kids base of items they would pick during their birthday . This baby shows an affinity towards money. (image from Japanupdate.com)

Many Asians have this tradition that 'predicts' the future of their kids base of items they would pick during their birthday . This baby shows an affinity towards money. (image from Japanupdate.com)

Dramatic, I know…but that also seems to be the romance fantasized by many.  Interestingly, this is also how many artists are commonly evaluated or marketed for his/her monetary worth. 

Dali, clearly understood the importance of being perceived as a born-Artist and introduced himself as the divine Dali and informed his audiences that he was born with the blood of Gala. No kidding.

Dali, clearly understood the importance of being perceived as a born-Artist and introduced himself as the divine Dali and informed his audiences that he was born with the blood of Gala. No kidding.

Are Artists are born?
Well..... Though I can’t dispute that some are born with better hands and eyes coordination. The same can be said for driving, flying or even walking. Some of us just have peculiar motor-skills but we can all learn to be better drivers, swimmers, runners or pilots.

So,.....Yes ! drawing can be taught and everyone can draw.  As far as how well one can draw.. It all boils down to the level of interest, effort and determination.

Personally, I have taught drawing for close to a decade and here are what I have observed:

Sketch of my students during studio time. 

Sketch of my students during studio time. 

  • Improvement and progress are always the most dramatic during the first few weeks of drawing classes.
  • Students are thrilled when they learnt that there are actually proper instructions and technique to drawing/ they would pick up pace on hands and eyes coordination and their observational drawings would improve dramatically during the first 4 weeks. 
  • Depending on the group’s size, progress usually tapers off around week 4 when students noticed the development of their peers. When students notice that others can obtain better results, many start to lose interest and reduce effort. (risk adverse strategy) This is often challenging since it’s hard to justify for the additional effort required.
     
Sometimes, students get so competitive over drawing that they openly criticize outstanding students for spoiling the 'market', guilt tripping them, in collective effort to stop the better artists from widening the gap. (This is a very common scenario in Singapore schools/society)

Sometimes, students get so competitive over drawing that they openly criticize outstanding students for spoiling the 'market', guilt tripping them, in collective effort to stop the better artists from widening the gap. (This is a very common scenario in Singapore schools/society)

Some competition is good but excessive competition and insecurity is death to motivation. 

Some competition is good but excessive competition and insecurity is death to motivation. 

So do I think drawing can be taught?

Well... My conclusion is that it can be taught but only some can accept or afford the necessary effort required. I have also personally come to believe that it’s a lot healthier to learn drawing when you approach it like Yoga, instead of O-level Mathematics.

When you don’t have to reside livelihood on drawing, you won’t be pressured to compare your effort and with less anxiety, you can definitely achieve better results.

You must enjoy art to learn it. 

You must enjoy art to learn it. 

 


I am currently conducting a sketching tour (For beginners) to Bhutan in Jun 15-June 21. Join me and rekindle your love for the arts. Limited to 10 particpants. Visit www.drukasia.com for more information.