Botanical workshop at Bynd Artisan. by erwin lian

Thank you, everyone, for your tremendous support.

Today is the last day for our watercolor botanical workshop at Bynd Artisan. The basic botanical workshop was conceived two years ago and over the span of these two years, I have learned so much about the arts, commerce, and life. Unknown to many, the workshop was first initiated due to a mistake made during our Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign. Though it is often frowned upon to declare mistakes in businesses, it was perhaps the most worthwhile chapter to share.

 Last session of Botanical Painting workshop. 

Last session of Botanical Painting workshop. 

 Last few sessions and we worked on Color temperature, color mixing and color theory. 

Last few sessions and we worked on Color temperature, color mixing and color theory. 

The best solutions and opportunities were often uncovered through accidental mistakes and random encounters. The reason is simple. Few would plan for mistakes and hence solutions from these uncalled-for events usually yield the most unique competitive advantages.. 3M's sticky pad, the Sony PlayStation, and many other products shared similar successes.

Background story:
During our Indiegogo campaign, we made a procurement mistake and accidentally ordered hot press instead of cold press paper. Unable to declare such a mistake to our backers, we flew in a new batch of paper from Italy.

 This was the entire stash of hot press paper from Fabriano.

This was the entire stash of hot press paper from Fabriano.

Despite a slight delay, we completed production and fulfilled all orders. Clueless with what we should do with hot press paper, the idea of a botanical workshop was proposed and I took up the challenge of creating teaching materials and started the class. Honestly, I didn't think the workshop would last for more than 2 months. My social media reach was limited and I wasn't confident that these classes could sustain. Thankfully over time, more knew about the workshops and it took off.  There were so many people to thank for this and I would like to give a big shout out to celebrity blogger, Yina Goh, Evonne Ng and all their beautiful blogger friends. They were among the earliest attendees and shared our workshop on their social network. 

 Celebrity Bloggers and their friends: Yina, Evonne, Tricia, Min, Reenie, Jess, Ying and Jeneen 

Celebrity Bloggers and their friends: Yina, Evonne, Tricia, Min, Reenie, Jess, Ying and Jeneen 

 Special thanks to Yina, Evonne and their friends for their support.

Special thanks to Yina, Evonne and their friends for their support.

The Botanical workshop also earned a feature on Time Out magazine and I met quite a number of distinguished guests through these workshops.

Some important things I learned from conducting these workshops:

1) Good work or great workshop won’t sell itself. On numerous occasions, I observed how Bynd Artisan’s sales team grind to get sales. They not only opened doors to invite passer-by to step into the shop, they also put in a lot of effort to introduce their products and our workshops. Talking to strangers, eliciting for their attention and educating them about products is not easy. I was especially moved when I witnessed how they educated customers about our art show. It’s remarkable because Art was so alien to them but they didn’t just leave our work there and gave up.

 I don't know how he does it.  But he is always breaking the ice and striking conversation with customers even when some can be so unfriendly. Sales team matter a lot and the hustle is real.

I don't know how he does it.  But he is always breaking the ice and striking conversation with customers even when some can be so unfriendly. Sales team matter a lot and the hustle is real.


2) For most, skills are secondary because the experience of accomplishing something new within 3 or 4 hours can be a lot more valuable than skills. This is why the workshops went through numerous iterations when I realized that what I taught was not achievable by most within 4 hours.

3) Network = net worth. On so many occasions, I have forgotten about this and regrettably wished that I have crafted more opportunities for participants to know one another. It’s an important element that I needed to integrate into future workshops.

DSC00673.jpg


4) Through these workshops, people recognized my ability to paint botanical work and approached me for commission work. This is so interesting because I have never thought about painting flowers prior to these. I can paint them really well but I have never thought about them.  It’s ironic.

 A commission work painted for a local Bank.

A commission work painted for a local Bank.

5) Fresh flowers are worth it. I am one of those guys who used to think that buying flowers is a waste of money. However, when I painted real flowers, I noticed their differences and realized the importance of having them around.  Flowers are the epitome of life’s fragility and beauty’s impermanence. To put a monetary value to its lifespan is equivalent to a dollar value on one’s beauty and life. Though we technically never needed real flowers for our workshops, I love their presence and the sight of people getting flower is nice. One last reason to why I used real flowers is the fact that I love seeing Mr. Chong packing them back for his wife. It’s really nice to witness these candid act of love.

 A lot more work to prepare real flowers but I think its worth it. 

A lot more work to prepare real flowers but I think its worth it. 

 Mr Chong, master craftman at Bynd Artisan attended our workshop as well :) 

Mr Chong, master craftman at Bynd Artisan attended our workshop as well :) 

Speaking of which, I absolutely love this article written by Alisha Gorder on NYTimes Modern Love:
https://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/15/fashion/one-bouquet-of-fleeting-beauty-please.html

“Why do we send flowers? To make up for what is intangible? Those feelings we can’t hold in our hands and present as a gift to our loved ones? And why is it that the placeholders we choose — the dozen red roses, the fragrant white lilies, the long-stemmed French tulips — are so fleeting? Hold on to them for too long and you end up with a mess of petals, pollen, and foul-smelling water.” – Alisha Gorder

 Some earlier batches where the practise was a little tougher. 

Some earlier batches where the practise was a little tougher. 

This is it. Thank you, everyone, for your continued support. Thank you, Winnie, James, Kenny, Donavan, Grace, Mr. Chong, Corinne, Brandon and the entire team at Bynd Artisan for your years of trust, support, and work.

I will be setting up new sketching experience when I settle into another city.
Farewell , for now.

Sketch Jakarta, April 2018 by erwin lian

Went for a short weekend trip to Jakarta and held a spontaneous sketching workshop there. Despite the short notice and zero advertising, we had a great turn-out. Special thanks to all my Indo Buckeye friends for their extended help and support. Shout out to Andre, Dino, James, Donald, Jeff and Hongy for their hospitality in Jakarta. 

Read More

Cycling and sketching in Taipei by erwin lian

I took a short trip to Taipei from April 26 to April 29 and managed to squeeze in some time to sketch and cycle. Special thanks to Paul Chui and Hughes Lu for loaning me their Brompton bicycle. This isn't my first time cycling in Taiwan and I was pleasantly surprised by the amazing cycling routes in Taipei City. It's absolutely beautiful and quite easy to get around. 

 Took Flyscoot 889 red eye flight to TPE. Painted this in Changi Airport. I was to arrive in TPE at 5 30 am !!!!

Took Flyscoot 889 red eye flight to TPE. Painted this in Changi Airport. I was to arrive in TPE at 5 30 am !!!!

 My first stop happened to be the lockers at Taipei Main Station. Had a heavy bag and Hotel check-in time is at 3 pm

My first stop happened to be the lockers at Taipei Main Station. Had a heavy bag and Hotel check-in time is at 3 pm

 Nothing is opened at 7 so I decided to go to Visit Long Shan Temple and be among the earliest to make a wish.  Wish didn't come true..... YET

Nothing is opened at 7 so I decided to go to Visit Long Shan Temple and be among the earliest to make a wish.  Wish didn't come true..... YET

 Then I headed up to Tamsui to meet Hughes. He's super duper nice and loaned me his black Brompton bike that is crazy decked out. Also guided me around and off I went from Tamsui down to Shilin area.

Then I headed up to Tamsui to meet Hughes. He's super duper nice and loaned me his black Brompton bike that is crazy decked out. Also guided me around and off I went from Tamsui down to Shilin area.

 Crazy beautiful weather . I was super lucky.  The cycling route in Taipei is super nice.

Crazy beautiful weather . I was super lucky.  The cycling route in Taipei is super nice.

 Entire cycling path runs along the river. 

Entire cycling path runs along the river. 

 After Beitou , I found a spot to paint in the shelter. It was super nice.

After Beitou , I found a spot to paint in the shelter. It was super nice.

 Half way there.

Half way there.

 Somewhere near Beitou

Somewhere near Beitou

 Then I sneaked out from Yuan Shan area and ride towards Shilin area.

Then I sneaked out from Yuan Shan area and ride towards Shilin area.

 Somewhere near Dadao Cheng Pier. Another great spot to paint

Somewhere near Dadao Cheng Pier. Another great spot to paint

 Like Seoul, Plenty of bridges and beautiful scenes. 

Like Seoul, Plenty of bridges and beautiful scenes. 

 It is so so so beautiful at some spots,  I can't believe I was in Taipei.

It is so so so beautiful at some spots,  I can't believe I was in Taipei.

el_TPE_bike-20.jpg
 I spent some time cycling around Dihua Street and thought I may bump into a dear friend there. 

I spent some time cycling around Dihua Street and thought I may bump into a dear friend there. 

el_TPE_bike-62.jpg
 The power towers were interesting enough to earn a page in my sketchbook.

The power towers were interesting enough to earn a page in my sketchbook.

 Baopiliao Old Street was quite a nice spot to paint as well. Interesting old buildings well preserved.

Baopiliao Old Street was quite a nice spot to paint as well. Interesting old buildings well preserved.

 I sketched the Brompton in the hotel and gave this sketch to Hughes. Thankful to be able to ride his Brompton in Taipei. It would have been a lot more troublesome to bring mine.

I sketched the Brompton in the hotel and gave this sketch to Hughes. Thankful to be able to ride his Brompton in Taipei. It would have been a lot more troublesome to bring mine.

 I enjoyed the new Taipei MRT to the airport. Its really comfortable and easy

I enjoyed the new Taipei MRT to the airport. Its really comfortable and easy

 Flyscoot my way back to Singapore. Taipei will always have a special spot in my heart. 

Flyscoot my way back to Singapore. Taipei will always have a special spot in my heart. 

 Finally got up the Mao Kong after numerous failed attempts.  Its quite a sight and I am glad I finally scaled up. 

Finally got up the Mao Kong after numerous failed attempts.  Its quite a sight and I am glad I finally scaled up. 

Thank you, Paul Chui and Hughes Lu from Bike Gang for sharing their Brompton with me.  Super grateful for all your hospitality and I look forward to your visit to Singapore :) 

 An old sketch I did of Taipei from a hike up Elephant mountain.

An old sketch I did of Taipei from a hike up Elephant mountain.

INTERLACE, A Group Show Featuring The Sketchbooks of 20 Artists by erwin lian

INTERLACE will be closing this weekend, 31 March 2018.
I did a few guided tours in the past few weeks and I just wanted to share some thoughts that went into this sketchbook exhibition

 Guided tour at Bynd Artisan

Guided tour at Bynd Artisan

Special thanks to all participating artists for making INTERLACE, a reality. 
INTERLACE IS A SKETCHBOOK EXHIBITION, showcasing the works of 20 prominent artists who supported The Perfect Sketchbook.

How did this start?
A sketchbook is known to hold an artist’s most intimate ideas and processes. Naturally, with a higher quality sketchbook, I thought it will be a great idea to showcase the works of our best and most influential backers from The Perfect Sketchbook campaign. I also truly believe that only great art can make a sketchbook perfect.  Knowing early on that I couldn’t turn The Perfect Sketchbook project into a sustainable business, I reserved some books after every release and would approach galleries and museums to pitch the idea of a group show. Even with book sponsorships, these galleries, mostly in America, would turn me down. A few informed me that it will not be profitable and I shelved this idea until Winnie, the owner of Bynd Artisan suggested that I hold the show in their retail store. We would be limited by space but the location is great and there would be considerable foot traffic. To mitigate the cost of shipping these books to our Artists, we would sell the last reserved copies (about 50) of The Perfect Sketchbook B5 during the launch of our group show, Interlace. 

Since the art show would feature 20 sketchbooks, we needed to create custom frames that would hold these sketchbooks and at the same time allow for easy page changes. E.g. If the sketchbook has 5 painted spreads; someone must be able to easily remove the sketchbook from the frame, flip to the next page, and reinstall it. 

A more detailed interview to these can be found on James Gurney’s blog at:
http://gurneyjourney.blogspot.sg/2018/03/sketchbook-exhibition-in-singapore.html

Who are these 20 artists?
They are all backers of The Perfect Sketchbook and their complete profiles can be found in this PDF file

James Gurney (http://jamesgurney.com)

 The Perfect Type Writer by James Gurney

The Perfect Type Writer by James Gurney

One of the most prolific plein-air painter in this world. New York Times best-selling author of The Dinotopia Series and author of the book Colors and Lights. I was really fortunate to receive
his support when I first launched The Perfect Sketchbook on Kickstarter. James was generous enough to share my project with his audiences and play a crucial role with success of The Perfect Sketchbook

Nathan Fowkes (http://www.nathanfowkesart.com/)

 Jerusalem by Nathan Fowkes

Jerusalem by Nathan Fowkes

A veteran in the entertainment industry with credits in more than 11 feature films. His work is amazing and I am a fan. Super fortunate to receive his support and was completely over the moon when he agreed to participate in our group show.

Catherine Hamilton (http://mydogoscar.com/birdspot/)

 Purple Gallinules by Catherine Hamilton

Purple Gallinules by Catherine Hamilton

Catherine's exquisite paintings and studies of birds caught my attention. She’s an ambassador for Zeiss and travels around the world studying birds.

Marvin Chew (https://www.marvinchew.com/)

 Shop houses along Kreta Ayer Road by Marvin Chew

Shop houses along Kreta Ayer Road by Marvin Chew

Former vice-president of The Singapore Watercolor Society. Marvin’s work is well known in Singapore and he has been supportive of The Perfect Sketchbook since the first edition.  During our Indiegogo campaign, Marvin shared professional tips on using watercolor.

Don Low (http://www.donlow-illustration.com/)

 Chinatown by Don Low

Chinatown by Don Low

One of the most underrated artist in Singapore who is well versed in just about any medium.


Isabella King (http://isabellakung.com/)

 Crystalized by Isabella Kung

Crystalized by Isabella Kung

An award-winning children book illustrator based in San Francisco.  Talented and helped share The Perfect Sketchbook campaign to people in North Cal.

Jerome Moo (http://jeromemoo.com/)

 Inverlocy Art School by Jerome Moo

Inverlocy Art School by Jerome Moo

I got to know Jerome because he backed the most B5 Sketchbooks and caught my attention. I later learn that he worked at Lucasfilm and is a great Plein-air painter. He now works as a senior matte painter at Weta Digital in New Zealand

Justin Pastores (http://www.justinpastores.com/)

 Collector no.7 by Justin Pastores

Collector no.7 by Justin Pastores

One of my earliest instagram follower whom I noticed to have great work and paints diligently. He’s been a great supporters for all our sketchbook.

Audrey (https://www.instagram.com/audrey_ish/)

 The Subjective Vertical by Audrey

The Subjective Vertical by Audrey

Audrey and I partnered on a few business ventures in the past and most of the inspirations for The Perfect Sketchbook were extracts from her. A pivotal supporter and an amazing artist with a passion in animation and dance.

Tracy Lewis (http://www.tracylewisart.com/

 Risk to Blossom by Tracy Lewis

Risk to Blossom by Tracy Lewis

An amazing watercolorist who is known for her transparent watercolor with a candy coat of Easter-like color.  Beautiful work that also caught my attention when I noticed how she painted.

Fawn Veerasunthorn (https://www.instagram.com/fawnv/)

 Year of the Dog by Fawn Veerasunthorn

Year of the Dog by Fawn Veerasunthorn

Known for her amazing storyboard work in numerous Disney Featured Films. I was lucky to have gone to school with her and managed to garner her support during The Perfect Sketchbook Campaign.

Ryan Green (https://www.instagram.com/ryangreenart/)

 Bah by Ryan Green

Bah by Ryan Green

Husband of Fawn. Ryan also worked at Disney featured film and saved Hei Hei from getting killed in the movie, Moana. Super fortunate to have gotten his support early on during our Kickstarter Campaign. He paid attention to my campaign and advised me to disengage with adversary early on during our campaign.

Hiroshi Hayakawa (http://www.hiroshi-hayakawa.com/

 Vanitas by Hiroshi Hayakawa

Vanitas by Hiroshi Hayakawa

My talented Photography Professor from Columbus College of Art. He supported heavily when our kickstarter was literally stuck and not making it. Hiroshi is also well versed in traditional medium and is the author of a series of Kirigami books.

Nathaniel Underwood (https://www.instagram.com/nathaniel_underwoodart/

 Composition 3 by Nathaniel Underwood

Composition 3 by Nathaniel Underwood

Painting buddy from Columbus College of Art who supported my Kickstarter and is an amazing painter currently represented by Sharon Weiss Gallery in Columbus

Iuri Lioi (http://www.iurilioi.com/

 Desert Symmetries by Iuri

Desert Symmetries by Iuri


Visual Development Artist at Dreamworks. I know Iuri from Graduate School at The Ohio State University but knew he was such a good painter until I saw his work in The Perfect Sketchbook.

Anthony Francisco (https://www.instagram.com/anthony_francisco_art/

 Baby Groot dances by Anthony Francisco

Baby Groot dances by Anthony Francisco


Known for his involvement with Marvel Comic Universe. Anthony is a Visual Development Concept Artists at Marvel.  Was fortunate to receive his support during our first kickstarter.

Namchai Saensupha (https://www.instagram.com/namchai_sketches/)

 Nov 27 by Namchai

Nov 27 by Namchai


An Architect from Thailand who caught my attention with his amazing watercolor landscapes.
One of my favorite artists when it comes to style and attitude.

Steve Mitchell (http://stevemitchelldesign.com/)

 Transparent watercolor by Steve Mitchell

Transparent watercolor by Steve Mitchell

A prominent Youtube Artist with the channel, Mind of Watercolor. I approached Steve during my Indiegogo campaign was very fortunate to receive his support. He was generous enough to share my campaign with his audiences.

Jackson Dryden (https://www.instagram.com/drydenart/)

 Transformation of a Diety by Jackson Dryden

Transformation of a Diety by Jackson Dryden

 

An amazing artist with a passion for sketchbooks. Jackon caught my attention when it comes to stylization and skills.

WHY ?
I started all these to prove to myself that I don’t have to be rich or famous to make great things. Traveling around the world, making our own products and hosting our own group show with very little capital, I did it all and I am eternally grateful for everyone's support along the way.

The show, the sketchbooks, and traveling have given me great insights into numerous delusional thoughts or ideas that I have had about art, business, and life. Truly grateful for all the support that I have received from everyone.

 

 

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 :) 

How to make use of fresh pigment to paint on-site. by erwin lian

Perhaps the most useful technique by watercolor plein-air artists.

This technique allow you to complete a painting on-site without getting bugged down by details or with too many glazes.  Theoretically, you can complete within 3 layers. However, apart from time constraint, there aren't any rules to why you should limit yourself to just 3 layers. Bear in mind that this method is most appropriate when you use fresh pigment from a tube.. 

Here's how you work the magic. By the way, I am demonstrating with just two colors. Why ? Because beginners too often have problem managing colors . If you can't even work with 2 ? Reduce it to one. There's no prize for the artists who uses most colors.  


At the most fundamental level, one just need to ensure that that the correct sense of color temperature is in place. Excessive colors rarely enhance an image when the temperature shift is nothing but a chaos. 

Important things to remember when painting: 

  • Shapes + Composition (Simplification and design is key. It is literally impossible to paint everything)
  • Value structure / Good drawing / Chiaroscuro (extremely important for watercolor since it rely extensively on light versus dark dramatic structure )
  • Soft versus hard edges
  • Color temperature (warm versus cool) . There is no need to score accurate color. A painter merely depict a color's relationship to its surrounding. e.g does the color have more warmth (Red or orange) or cool (Green or blue) in it ? 
 Think about the density of tea, milk or cream to assess how thick or thin your paints are. Maximum coverage is made with the thinnest layer, mid tone and shadow mass are all connected with milk layer and details are left in for for thickest coat of paint. (error - Tea layer was yellow orche and not burnt sienna as written above:)

Think about the density of tea, milk or cream to assess how thick or thin your paints are. Maximum coverage is made with the thinnest layer, mid tone and shadow mass are all connected with milk layer and details are left in for for thickest coat of paint. (error - Tea layer was yellow orche and not burnt sienna as written above:)

Putting it all together: (two colors)

The technique sounds all easy but can be quite a challenge when you are on-site and overwhelmed by the gamut of colors and details that mother nature throws at you.

The truth is, no one can paint everything on the spot. A good painting isn't a good photo and how you capture the essence creates the impression that mattered the most. (Paint language)
A few things to note:

  • Things will change.
  • You are painting an illusion and it doesn't have to include everything. 
  • A quick thumbnail study is exceptionally useful for a complicated scene. I often make the mistake of painting without preparation, only to regret after I lay down the first wash. 
  • Resolve your value structure before you paint. Changes in light cannot affect your vision if you have this road mapIts also a whole lot easier to focus on other aspects of painting if you have this. 
 An illustration of how this works. Putting it together for a scene . Note that you want to cover as much as possible with the first lay-in wash.

An illustration of how this works. Putting it together for a scene . Note that you want to cover as much as possible with the first lay-in wash.

 The watercolor clock as illustrated here and taught by the famous water colorist Joseph Zbukvic. On this clock, he documented the way to assess pigment's consistency versus the result on the various degree of wetness on the paper. His book however is out-of-print but this remained a crucial technique for anyone trying to paint on-sight.

The watercolor clock as illustrated here and taught by the famous water colorist Joseph Zbukvic. On this clock, he documented the way to assess pigment's consistency versus the result on the various degree of wetness on the paper. His book however is out-of-print but this remained a crucial technique for anyone trying to paint on-sight.

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. 

James's Gurney Vol 1 , The Living Sketchbook by erwin lian

I was pleasantly surprised when James Gurney invited me to review his latest app, Vol 1 Boyhood Home.  James Gurney lives the life of a painter/illustrator and shares his work extensively on youtube. He is also the artist and author of the book ‘Color and Light’ and Dinotopia.  Yup! I am a huge fan of his work.

 His latest app, Vol 1 Boyhood Home. 

His latest app, Vol 1 Boyhood Home. 

When I found out about his app, I thought to myself: “Why didn’t I think of that?”  It embraces technology and allowed user an opportunity to get closer to an artist’s sketchbook.  The app functions as an ebook with the option of voice narration. Some pages also included videos to his painting process. Imagine a talking sketchbook with videos.
 

 Finally, a sketchbook that talks to you :) 

Finally, a sketchbook that talks to you :) 

The only 3 buttons in this app. 

Unlike a physical book, there were few words to read and users can zoom into every painting for its brushstrokes and details. Each painting is also accompanied by a voice narration and James carefully recorded the ambient sounds of each setting to give us a better sense of the actual environment. With sights and sounds, he takes us through his decision-making processes and introduced us to his painting tools, techniques and materials.

 I mean, real details. Something analog books can't offer

I mean, real details. Something analog books can't offer

The app was really intuitive and easy to navigate. To go to next page, you swipe the image.  To zoom in, you pinch outwards. Last but not least, there are buttons that brings out the voice narrations with occasional videos of how he has painted on-site. Though most of his fans may have seen his paintings videos on his youtube channel, this app presented a uniquely seamless and comprehensive experience to peek into James Gurney’s sketchbook.  

 Video process of his work. One click away. 

Video process of his work. One click away. 

I love how James is constantly improving his work and exploring new avenues to showcase them. This app is a great example of how traditional art can co-exist with technology and deliveries

 The first volume of the Living Sketchbook app will be available March 20 for $4.99 for both iOS and Android phones and tablets (go here for updates).

How to Commute Sketch like a ninja by erwin lian

SECRET UNVEILED !!!!!!!

 The Secret Manuel to Ninja Sketching in the commute. 

The Secret Manuel to Ninja Sketching in the commute. 

Step 1 :
Find a good spot to draw
 If you can find a seat, perfect . Otherwise. look for somewhere you can lean against to secure that support. A hardbound sketchbook is crucial and  Its imperative to bring a small sketchbook.  Simple logic. Something huge = attention grabber. If you want attention and want to be invisible, this may not be  for you.  Really. 

Step 2:
Tempo
Since your hand and the train are often moving in opposing directions, it is wise to gauge the speed of the vehicle before you push ink around. When the vehicle stops, it is the most stable. When it accelerates, its not wise to lay in intricate lines . When its at optimum speed, its stable again. Finally, if it stops abruptly, be ready to stop. In short, gain a sense of the tempo and movement. 

Step 3
Be invisible:
Its really easy. Don't lock eyes with anyone no matter how cute he/she is, Don't smile or try to wink at them ,  avoiding wearing something loud and try to blend in as normal person, sitting still,  pretending to take note.  Always keep a 45 degree tilt and look at sketchbook, with occasional peek at your subjects.  If he/she is really cute, alone, and you did a fantastic job ? Consider parting that precious piece of drawing for his/ her number. Remember to assess risk versus reward. This is all well within the code of ethic in my ninja book. You go !

Step 4:
Overlap and fore shorting:
To draw fast, you need to be economic with your strokes, Its absolutely imperative to master foreshortening . Take mental note of overlapped shapes with that magical "T" . Allocate sufficient white spaces to secure foreground/backgrounds shapes.  You don't have to draw with pen, pencil works great as well. Pen is just another one of those ego boaster for people who can draw.  No kidding  !! STOP IT, Mouthbreathers who brag about your ink drawings. 

Step 5: 
Chose easier subjects if you can't deal with that kid who has ADHD. Life is stressful enough and a ninja don't get promoted for catching Flash on the subway . Consider the following subject if you are just picking up Ninjatsu :
1) Sleepers- duh
2) Phone drones -double duh
3) Reader s-Triple duh
4) Back View. ( i know what you're thinking but hey its a start)

Step 6:
Montage:
A montage is a great way to get into the flow of just drawing. Once you gather more confidence and speed, you can sketch an entire row of commuters without breaking a sweat.

Step 7
Ethics:
If someone notice ? You can either stop or ask for permission. Obviously, its riskier if you ask for permission. However, you will be surprised by how many nice people there are on the commute.  At any given rate, if they get real mad at you for drawing their cute husband or wife ? Be prepared to give them that piece of drawing, and bounce.  Really, its not worth fighting for Art. The last time I saw someone fighting over who use  some ABC pen first versus who drew triangle before there is even squares ? I almost cut myself.  

This is it. Its that simple/ Have fun sketching on your commute :) 

PS: if you are a transit company and wish that I can teach my Ninjastu to your customers ? Holler !  POOF*

Commute Sketchers by erwin lian

I started the Commute Sketchers Facebook group a while back to gather and discuss about commute sketchers. Recently, I approached local transit companies, SMRT and SBS to see if they would be interested to showcase our work. Both companies expressed interest and SBS transit was most proactive. This is a trial run and we managed to get our sketches into Bedok, Bishan, Boon Lay and Clementi Bus interchange. SBS is currently pending approval from LTA to exhibit our work in the MRT stations of their downtown line. 

 Commute Sketchers at Bishan Bus Interchange 

Commute Sketchers at Bishan Bus Interchange 

The media took this news well and we were featured on all the major newspapers in Singapore. 

 We were in The Straits Time. Zao Bao, The New Paper and even Channel News Asia

We were in The Straits Time. Zao Bao, The New Paper and even Channel News Asia

 Chee Chew's take on our sketches :P

Chee Chew's take on our sketches :P

Here are some challenges that I faced when it comes to getting the commute sketches onto the transit system:

1) Territory:
Art is undeniably territorial.  In Singapore, the Artwork in MRT stations are commissioned and selected by a committee that determines who deserved to be in the stations. The MRT stations are also governed by LTA (Land Transport Authority).  In short.  LTA elect a committee who will select the artists and commission them to make Art for the station.

 Art in Transit -  An Art Commission by the LTA in our MRT Stations.

Art in Transit -  An Art Commission by the LTA in our MRT Stations.

2) Red Tapes:
Apart from territory, there are always bureaucracies. Some of the train companies’ staff I communicated with expressed concern about privacy and influences. They worried that by showing our sketches. It would mean that they are promoting a less ‘safe’ environment. Some were concerned that if they showcase our work, others would approach them for visibility and they would not be able to justify these. (Bear in mind , I emailed their CEOs and it is ALWAYS their CEOs who would instruct them to explore possibilities.)

Having sketched in the trains for so many years, I am certain that no one can recognize anyone from my drawings. The train cabins are installed with an insane amount of security cameras. If there is any concern about privacy? It would be the train companies' CCTV and the numerous smartphones commuters carry.

3) Art for Art Sake:
We wanted to showcase commute sketches. Unfortunately, one company couldn’t conceive this notion of showing the real landscape and suggested that we sketch what they feel would be ‘beneficial’ in terms of promoting their company’s cultures and value.  I found this ironic because what we drew was genuinely what they offered and delivered. Shrugs*

4) Money:
I am blessed to have gathered a bunch of friends who were willing to share their work and are just happy to see them in the public. Right from the get-go, we didn’t expect remuneration unless the transport company commissioned us to do work tailored to their needs. Of course, all of us would be happy if remunerated for our talents and contributions.
 Making money from art is a tough nut to crack.

5) Group:
Coordinating a group can be challenging but I am very fortunate to have work with a really responsive group.  They all submitted work when I asked and there was no politicking. Everyone was fun, enthusiastic and understanding. I reckon the key is to work with a small group and to be ultra transparent.  Our group included: Alvin Mark, Francis Theo, Benedict Tay, James Tan, James Lim, Pocholo Issa Estremos & Ken lee. They are the founding members. 

Congratulations to everyone involved and hoooray to the commute sketchers ! Special thanks to SBS transit Limited for partnering with us. 

To join us ? Visit our facebook group at
https://www.facebook.com/groups/commutesketchers/

 The commute sketchers !

The commute sketchers !

https://www.facebook.com/groups/commutesketchers/

 

In Transit 2016 by erwin lian

In-Transit

Sep 01, 2016.
One month in America.

During this trip, I caught up with so many friends and held a show at Curt’s new tattoo shop, Enso Tattoo.  My flight was delayed in Hong Kong due to the weather. When I reached Dallas? I missed the connection to Ohio… Luckily, there was another flight scheduled for CMH and I reached at about 2am. (Thursday night)

Jet lag consumed me and I couldn’t sleep… Awake the whole time, I proceeded to set up my show with Curt until midnight on Friday. I was completely destroyed on Friday night but In-Transit was scheduled to open on Saturday and we have 29 paintings to frame and hang….  
 

 Eventually we succeeded and put everything up right before Gallery Hop !

Eventually we succeeded and put everything up right before Gallery Hop !

 It came as a nice surprise when one of my backers, Cassandra for The Perfect Sketchbook notified her mum to visit my show on Saturday. What's interesting is that Cassandra who now lives in France was actually from Columbus, Ohio. Her mum bought a painting that day before the show opened!!

Framing and putting up 29 paintings within 48 hours wouldn’t be possible without my amazing friends. Special thanks to these amazing friends: Daniel Painter (Decal) Curt Everitte (everything) Joe Galati (Cutting Matts and frames) Nathaniel Wood (Cutting Mattes and frame).

 

 Professor Hiroshi an Jonathon with his wife stop by my show :) 

Professor Hiroshi an Jonathon with his wife stop by my show :) 

 Marshall Shorts :) 

Marshall Shorts :) 

 Nate and Dr Yu with me

Nate and Dr Yu with me

 Randy Liu from 1GR Builders

Randy Liu from 1GR Builders

 Charlotte Belland = Best Animation professor !

Charlotte Belland = Best Animation professor !

 Taught a watercolor workshop to a bunch of Tattoo Artists and Enthusiast at Enso Tatto 

Taught a watercolor workshop to a bunch of Tattoo Artists and Enthusiast at Enso Tatto 

The show successfully opened on Gallery Hop night. Unfortunately the traffic wasn’t that great since there was an Ohio State game. However, I was super stoked to have caught up with many of my college friends and professors. It was defiantly one of those moments where I felt a genuine sense of belonging.  Realizing that I haven’t done much to promote my show, Professor Hiroshi suggested that I email the Columbus Dispatch to notify them of my show. I thought it was harmless and emailed. Interestingly, the Columbus Dispatch responded and wrote a full front page feature on their life section in the papers. A few more sales resulted from this feature.  Thanks to Charlotte, I was also given a chance to speak to an audience of about 100 students in the Cazani auditorium at The Columbus College of Art. 

 Interview by The Columbus Dispatch 

Interview by The Columbus Dispatch 

 Speaking at CCAD 

Speaking at CCAD 

There’s so much I wanted to write here but the most important things really aren’t my paintings or my crowd funding projects. It’s actually my amazing friends in America who saw me through the toughest time in college and life; they are my family’. Mad thanks to Dr Chilin Yu for always sharing her wisdom with me and not forgetting the Yue family and CaregiverUSA for providing me with shelter in Columbus, Ohio again.

 I didn't have much advertising. So we printed a bunch of cards and we just try to plaster as much as possible, wherever possible. (bad idea).. Here's one at CCAD. I didn't get approval because I was out of time. 

I didn't have much advertising. So we printed a bunch of cards and we just try to plaster as much as possible, wherever possible. (bad idea).. Here's one at CCAD. I didn't get approval because I was out of time. 

 The Yue Family provided shelter and cycling ! Thank you 

The Yue Family provided shelter and cycling ! Thank you 

 We cycled to the zoo to sent Nora away. 

We cycled to the zoo to sent Nora away. 

 Then one day, I just rent a car and gun it all the way to Canada to see this. 

Then one day, I just rent a car and gun it all the way to Canada to see this. 

 Went Plein-air with Curt at The Hocking Hills. Listened to radiolab on the roads.

Went Plein-air with Curt at The Hocking Hills. Listened to radiolab on the roads.

 My painting at Hocking hills. 

My painting at Hocking hills. 

 Got to join Nate, Hiroshi and a bunch of real top notch artists in figure drawing at the Ohio Art league.

Got to join Nate, Hiroshi and a bunch of real top notch artists in figure drawing at the Ohio Art league.

 Pretending to be serious = looking like a kungfu master

Pretending to be serious = looking like a kungfu master

 she was an amazing model .

she was an amazing model .

 Cleveland Musuem of Art is one hell of an impressive musuem 

Cleveland Musuem of Art is one hell of an impressive musuem 

 Met a gentlemen who works for a major eCommerce store when I was sketching here. He offered some freelance work. 

Met a gentlemen who works for a major eCommerce store when I was sketching here. He offered some freelance work. 

After Ohio, I took a flight to California and spent two weeks there to catch up with west coast buddies. I finally managed to visit Yosemite. It was amazing and I am so thankful. Thank you Youn and Hao for making it all possible. pd thanks to Janice and Pencil Cafe for convincing me to visit them.  I love you all.

 So lucky to know yall !!!

So lucky to know yall !!!

 Yosemite is for real. 

Yosemite is for real. 

 Pencil Cafe is my Favorite Cafe. 

Pencil Cafe is my Favorite Cafe.