17 April 2015

Drawing small in The Perfect Sketchbook

Below are some sketches I drew in The Perfect Sketchbook, a small 3.5 by 5 inch sketchbook that was made possible by a successful Kickstarter campaign. Unfortunately, the sketchbook is not sold commercially and is available only to those who backed the project.

Anyway, this post is about drawing small. This is the smallest sketchbook I've drawn on. I like detail work and I imagined this sketchbook would be extremely challenging to work on. It's challenging sure, but it's a different sort of challenge.

Drawing on a small sketchbook requires some different skills than drawing on a larger sketchbook. The most important of course is to be able to simplify your art. That would be making important subjects more prominent, not sweating the small details.

Sometimes it's fun to break out of your comfort zone to grab a different material to work with, in this case for me a sketchbook size that I don't usually work with.

Drawn at Changi Airport

A talk inside a bookstore

Singapore skyline from the Esplanade waterfront.

Student hostel at Nanyang Technological University of Singapore.

Singapore Art Museum

- Parka

26 March 2015


Sketch by Tia

For this month's sketchwalk, we want to celebrate Mr Lee Kuan Yew's life and what he's done for Singapore. So we will be sketching around the Padang and Esplanade on Saturday. From this area, you will be able to get a good view of the Singapore skyline and Marina Bay. There will be much to explore, draw and reflect on around the area. The nearest train station is City Hall Mrt Station - a short walk over. (10mins)

Meet: 9AM  at the waterfront outside the Esplanade (See map below). After a short briefing, we will spread out and explore/sketch the area. Start at the Padang, and plan your route so that you eventually arrive back at the Esplanade's waterfront at 12PM

Endpoint: 12PM at the waterfront outside the Esplanade. We will do our show and tell there.

Might get hot. So bring a hat. If not, there will be trees for shade.

See you there!
Taken from Google Maps.

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15 March 2015

Hanoi Vietnam travelogue sketchbook (Mar 2015)

Here's my travelogue sketchbook of Hanoi, Vietnam. I spent one week there walking around, sketching. It was fun.

Apparently the best time to travel to Hanoi, as I'm told by a hotel manager, is in October. It was drizzling for a few days and their drizzle is really fine mist-type drizzle. It's quite humid also. All the lines were drawn on location, and a handful were coloured back at the hotel with the help of the convenient hair-dryer.

Hanoi is really quite an interesting city. It's a bit disorderly but it has its charm. Hotels are surprisingly nice even though you won't be able to tell by the clutter of the streets.

I'll be making an ebook of my sketches with travel and drawing tips which should be out in May. But first, you can preview the pages above. I managed to use 57 out of the 60-page sketchbook I brought.

- Parka

13 March 2015

Ann Shiang Hill , Singapore

Ann Siang Road, in Chinatown, begins from a road known as Ann Siang Hill and ends near the Ann Siang Building and the historical site of Anglo-Chinese School. Named after Chia Ann Siang (1832 - 1892) who was a businessman, both the roads are situated atop a hill known as Ann Siang Hill and lie within the Central Business District. 

HistoryAnn Siang Hill was originally known as Scott's Hill and was owned by Charles Scott who cultivated a nutmeg and cloves estate on it. He sold it to John Gemmil who re-christened the place as Gemmil's Hill. The hill's name was changed again when it came to be owned by Chia Ann Siang, around the turn of the 20th century and the hill was renamed as Ann Siang Hill. A Cantonese burial ground, one of the oldest Chinese burial grounds in Singapore, used to be located at the foot of this hill where it met Mount Erskine and was in use until 1867. This graveyard was exhumed in 1907 and a portion of it was developed as a part of the Telok Ayer reclamation project. In the 1890s, when this hill was known as Gemmil Hill, a Malay college and high school was moved to this place from Telok Blangah to provide education to the son of the Temenggong of Johor and other young tungkus and ungkus. Apparently Ann Siang Hill and Ann Siang Road, being situated atop a hill, did not probably share the camaraderie of the 19th century Chinatown with its hustle and bustle and was a rather quiet, predominantly residential, place. The roads, presently, are under the Chinatown conservation area.

Both Ann Siang Road and Ann Siang Hill are today still lined with quaint old restored shophouses and richly decorated terrace houses. Most of these buildings were constructed between 1903 and 1941 and are today home to offices and enterprises. The layout of the streets are informal. Eating places, commercial units, trendy bars, restaurants and eating places on the streets have made the roads popular upmarket places. Efforts are being done by the Singapore Tourism Board to boost tourism and bring business to leisure pursuits such as the bars and eating places located here. The Damenlou Hotel, a small hotel opened in the 1994, is located at the junction of Ann Siang Road and Ann Siang Hill. Ann Siang Hill Park in the vicinity of the road, constructed in early 1980s, was renovated in 2003. The first Anglo-Chinese School in Singapore is located in the vicinity of Ann Siang Road at number 70, Amoy Street. Started by Methodist missionaries on 1 March, 1886, it is now called ACS House and has been gazetted as a historic site since the late 1990s. Another historic site, the original building of the Pondok Peranakan Gelam Club or Pondok Gelam, is located at Club Street near Ann Siang Hill. Home to a Bawean-Malay community from 1932 to 2000, this last pondok building in Singapore was declared a historic site in 2000.

Naidu Ratnala Thulaja

26 February 2015


Our sketchwalk this saturday will start from the new Paya Lebar Square mall. At 9AM, please meet outside Ya Kun Kaya Toast on the outside of the mall. It's just beside Paya Lebar MRT Station). After a short briefing, you are free to explore the area in any direction.

Look at the map and you will be able to find two old malls and also the new OneKM mall. The old malls have this very old atmosphere inside. It's like stepping into the past. You can also relax at a cafe and draw if you are at one of the 2 new malls. The industrial buildings are on the other end. Please watch out for big vehicles when sketching there. Closer to Aljunied MRT station are two big temples which some of you might find interesting. One is very ornate. The Geylang East Library is a quiet pleasant library just beside the MRT tracks. And not far from there is the famous Geylang area where if you like drawing shop houses, it's all there. 

At 12PM, we will gather outside Aljunied MRT station below the tracks (facing the library). There, we shall do the show and tell.

For lunch, I recommend a Penang restaurant located at one of the shophouses just outside Aljunied MRT station. Try the Penang Char Kway Teow ($5) or Assam Laksa. Their other dishes are good too. The indian food next door is also decent.

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13 February 2015

Tips for choosing your location for USK-SG Vol.2

To all the contributors to the USK-SG Vol.2 book,

This note is just to make sure that when you are submitting a sketch, you are choosing the right location. I know that it takes some time to write a story. So I do not want you to spend a couple hours writing about locations that will not get chosen for the book.

We've gotten quite lot of submissions already, but some of them fall into the grey area. And although we really want to say "OK, can lah!", some will have to be re-submitted because the location doesn't fit the overall theme of the book. We found that the word "meaningful locations" can be interpreted in other ways than what we intended. So to be extra clear, here are some things to consider when choosing a location.

The location fits the book if it's a place:
1. you grew up at.
2. frequent very often in the past or present.
3. where something interesting/important/life-changing happened to you.
4. where a building that was meaningful to you used to stand. (your story will help us imagine the past.) eg. If the building has been renovated, you can draw the new one and talk about the old version in your story.

It won't fit the book if it's a just a place:
1. that reminded you of another place you have fond memories of.
2. you sketched because it was very interesting to sketch
3. that makes you feel nostalgic but you don't have any history in that place.

Some grey areas:

1. Drawing the interior of your house - This is a bit tricky because the interior of your house could look like any house in the world. But perhaps if you said or showed how your house relates to singapore homes, that might work; the general public who reads this book will be able to relate or find more interesting. I would try to avoid drawing the interior if possible. Instead, I would draw the outside as it is more recognisable to everyone. Even if it is a simple HDB block. People can then say, show their friends overseas and say"my HDB book looks like this!"

Same goes for drawing the interior of your workplace.

2. You drew it because this is where you had a fantastic sketch outing with your friends. Hmmm. Well, then the outing would be why it is memorable and not because the place was meaningful to you. Try to avoid this also because the public who will be reading the book may not care about sketching or sketch outings. They just want to know what's interesting about this place you drew and how it relates to your life. We are using sketches to talk about that and not using our sketches and stories to talk about sketching (at least not in this book.)

3. You drew it because it is a place you always see since young and it is going to be torn down. Well, unless you had a direct interaction with this place, and have some history or incident happened here, I think it won't do because it is just not meaningful enough to you.

4. Drawing the scene outside your window. That may be meaningful to you, provided that your story does mention what you do around those places you see outside the window. Basically, the scene must be of places that are meaningful to you too. So that when people read your story, they can imagine you doing those things in those locations. eg. you drew your carpark. Then tell what happens to you in that carpark. You always forget where you park your car?

If you've found that your sketch you submitted didn't fit the theme, you are welcome to resubmit using the same submission form.


11 February 2015

Fountain pens and colour pencils sketches

HBD flats at Queen Street
Sketched with fountain pens and colour pencils

Singapore Art Museum
Sketched with fountain pens and colour pencils

Church of Peter & Paul, Queen Street
Sketched with fountain pens and colour pencils

Singapore Art Museum and 8Q , Queen Street
Sketched with fountain pens and colour pencils

Raffles Place
Sketched with fountain pens and colour pencils

Ocean Financial Centre , Raffles Place
Sketched with Fountain pens and colour pencils

07 February 2015


Hi all,

The sketches and stories for Vol.2 have been coming in. There are some very good ones and some that still need that extra spark to make it an interesting read. For those that need some work to make it shine more, we will give you a call. Or you can work on it some more and re-submit your story to us.
If you have yet to submit your stories, please go through this list to see if you have hit the key things that will make your story a better read and avoid the things that should not be in there.  Let's make this book a quality book with good art and stories that we can all enjoy reading:)

Key things to include:
  1. What is the name of this place? (This is the title)
  2. Describe the sights, sounds, smells here (if interesting). This makes your sketch more alive.
  3. Why does this place have special meaning to you?
  4. What is ONE INTERESTING THING YOU EXPERIENCED AT THIS LOCATION? This is the most important part of your story. So you MUST answer this. This part will be what makes your story JUICY.
    Eg. “I was in a gang fight here….” Or “I proposed to my wife here by asking her…” Or “a grumpy auntie runs this prawn meet stall here and she would...”  In short, give us the juicy details! Don't be stingy with the juicy details! This will be what makes your story much more interesting to read. It can be something non-dramatic and routine but give us a slice of life, like playing a video recording of what you did there. Bring us into the scene. Walk us through it.
  5. Are there any interesting facts about this place that not many know? eg. which food stall is best in this hawker centre. Give your food review! Small nuggets of information will make your story better.
  6. How has this place changed?
  7. How did you feel about it then? And now?
Of all of the above key things, the 2 most most important things are to 1) describe the place and 2) recount one interesting thing you did or experienced here (in some detail).

Key things to avoid:

1. DO NOT write like a historian or architect or an urbansketcher. DO write like a person living and experiencing the location in Singapore.
2. DO NOT just write about your memory of you sketching the location or going on a sketchwalk. We want to know how the location touched you during your everyday life while you are not sketching. The general public who does not sketch will be able to relate to that better.
3.  DO NOT just say you "used to come here everyday" and have fond memories of the place. DO tell us one of those fond memories in detail. We want to read that!
4. DO NOT submit sketches and stories of places that are just interesting to you. Visiting a place once and sketching it doesn't count as a meaningful location. DO submit stories of sketches with locations that have special meaning to your own life because you've experienced the location first-hand and spent a lot of time there in your day-to-day life. Think nostalgic places from your past (or recent past) that you have fond memories of. And tell us those specific fond memories.

Here are some examples of what we are looking for:

This is by Don Low:
Title: Geylang Lorong 27

Geylang, according to some, is a rich and colourful neighbourhood. The area bounded between Geylang Road and Sims Avenue, is interspersed with clans, places of worship, shophouses, offices, malls, and residences. Most would remember the place as a red-light district. I remember the location more fondly as one with lots of eateries. We used to frequent the “Beef Hor Fun” store, the “Tofu You Tiao” store, and one or two “Zi Char” places. My parents loved to go there for food too, despite the congestion and the crowd. When foreigner friends visited Singapore, Geylang is the place we would bring them for food. Besides eating, I would visit Geylang to sketch, more so recently for the last 2-3 years. Every time I was there, different things happened. This round, an uncle on bicycle pulled up right in front of where I was sitting and began to hurl loud but friendly exchange with apparently his pals at the table, who in turn nonchalantly returned the conversation as though this happened everyday. I don’t see this everyday though. This carried on for like 5 mins and immediately after the man on the bike rode off. I could see this as the opening scene to a movie or a drama series on TV. I spent the next 20 mins finishing the sketch.

This is by me, Andrew. There is nothing exciting or dramatic here. But I try to put in a few interesting details into the story to bring the sketch to life:


This is the start point of the jogging path that begins across the road from Buona Vista MRT station and runs toward Clementi. It’s part of the park connector network (PCN) and it follows a canal. If I start at this end, run to the other end and back, I would cover 4km and it would take me 45mins. I usually do that when I’m not too lazy. Whenever I manage to get there in the mornings between 7-9am, there would be all kinds of people already on the path. I would see elderly folk standing along the track flapping their arms and doing other curious movements in order to improve blood circulation (I assume). I would also see aunties with hats chatting with one another as they went for their morning stroll. And I would almost always see this caucasian lady with a bouncy ponytail, brisk-walking a dog and she would be talking enthusiastically on her handphone with her free hand for the whole walk. I would always imagine she was talking to her sister or good friend over on the other side of the world.

I’ve used this path for over 20 years. It has helped me get ready for national service, pass my army fitness exams, and help me keep fit in general. On many evenings in the past, I remember cycling to this particular start point, chaining my bike to a railing, and waiting for my good friend from the army to meet me. We would run at a relaxed pace and chat about what was going on in our lives. We did that for a few years before we started having kids.

This is by Chit Seng

Title: KTM railway bridge
Every time I pass by this railway bridge that cross over head in upper Bukit Timah Road, it brings me to my childhood days of riding the night train to Malaysia (Penang ) to visit my great grandma during Chinese New Year.

During those days, the train seats are not numbered. When it is time to board the train, everyone will rushed into the carriage and “chop” their seats. Those who fail to get a seat will have to stand all the way their destination.

One year, we could not manage to “chop” a seat. It means that we have to stand all the way to Penang! Luckily a kind young man let us children to have his seat. I remember seeing him standing near the carriage doorway on my way to the loo.

After the rail bridge, the train would pass Ghim Moh area. We live in one of the block just beside it. We would sometime go spider hunting along that track.
We missed the sound of the train when the Keppel railway station stop its operation.