From kitchen to table

What's more perfect for our summertime appetite than tomatoes and basil? While thinking of making this classic pasta for the night, I realise those lovely colours will look great in watercolours too! It looks as fresh and sweet as it would be on the dinning table. Summer is not my favourite season, but it's surely is a well of inspirations!

When life gives you tangled yarn

Here is my recent crochet project – a summer bag with layers of tassels. It’s required to use double yarn to give it a stronger body, so you can imagine the trouble when I had to undo almost half of it! When I almost made it to the edge, I realised I left too little space between the lines of tassles, and they were too close to each other, and I had to undo from the first layer otherwise it would not be what I wanted. It hurt so much to undo it and it hurt even more to tidy the messy yarn!

So, what should I do in this situation? I decided to do nothing. I gave up tidying the mess, instead I just started from where I left with the tangled yarn and smoothed it along the way. It was easier than I thought it would be and I quickly caught up! Isn’t our life just the same? Sometimes we try so hard to solve the problem and drill so deep that it causes so much pain. The best way perhaps is just right before us, to live on and see how it goes.

Crochet Summer Hat

Hi, today I’m gonna take a break from drawing as I’m so excited to show you my latest crochet project – a summer hat! I followed a pattern in a Japanese book named 定番の帽子とおしゃれバッグ エコアンダリヤで編む(http://amzn.asia/1Wi0uwm).  I so recommend this book as it themes around summer hats and bags using cellulose rayon yarn, the special texture of which will create a fresh summer look. 

As much as I love to try the patterns, I hesitated at buying the book at first because, like many of you, I do not read Japanese at all. Imagine the bummer if I have the book in hand but can’t understand the Japanese instructions! At last I decided to give it a go, hoping my limited knowledge in diagrams would help. In fact it did (thank you Google Translate!). I love the stitches on the side of the hat and its wonderful protection from sunshine. I will be so proud wearing this for the whole summer.

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I’m not gonna share the whole pattern as I don’t own it, but I’d love to show you up close how to do the side of the hat. In the photo below, it’s basically four dc (US) in the same space. On the fourth dc, yarn over and hook into one stitch before the space where you have hooked the first three dc, pull over an extra large loop that naturally covers part of the three dc. Then the rest is like a common dc, just yarn over and pull through two loops on hook, again yarn over and pull through two loops. The result is a beautiful fan-shape stitch like below.

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Half way done

 

 

 

 

Thoughts on Ink Paintings

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I was lucky enough to see many Chinese calligraphy and ink paintings, both ancient and contemporary, because of my work in the past. I admire these arts so much but I can’t say I know how to appreciate them. Last week I went to see this mini exhibition of Chiu Ling-ban, a local artist, and realised that I don’t need to know Chinese art to appreciate ink paintings.

The artist has excellent skills in traditional Chinese art, inherited from his father who was also an artist, and was influenced by western styles and skills while he studied abroad, so his works show a blend of both cultures. Like this ink painting above, which captured Tai O, a fish village in Hong Kong decades ago, the skills and style are definitely ‘Chinese’, but some western influence can be seen in the composition. I especially like the vivid and smooth lines of the houses. It looks so effortless and harmonious.

I left the exhibition with some questions though. Putting aside how much it takes to get the skills, even if I can manage the skills, does it mean that I can create paintings like these? Sadly, it seems almost impossible to me. I need to form a picture in my head first for me to draw it. If I can’t depict a Chinese painting in my head, how can I create one, given the same landscape? No one can manage all art styles in the world. I just learnt that I need to see things with that eye when I want to do a particular style, for example, how can I draw an abstract-style painting without having first depicted the landscape/object abstractly in my mind? Excuse me for this late ‘discovery’, I’m sure many of you probably have known that. To do that, I think one way is inevitably to practice and improve the skills, the other way is see lots of good works to immerse yourself in that world.

上星期,我欣賞了本地畫畫家(兼財經人)趙令彬在美專舉行的畫展,畫展雖小,卻令人大飽眼福。趙令彬幼受庭訓,自小已練就一身好畫功,展覽中不少畫都是畫幾十年前的香港,見證著上世紀的滄海桑田。這些雖是水墨畫,其中也不難看出西方畫的構圖和線條,我覺得尤其是上面畫大澳的這幅有少許吳冠中的感覺。欣賞之餘,我想,為何現今很少有人畫得出這種感覺呢? 我的愚見是,技巧只是其一,更重要是一個人心裏有沒有圖畫。即使是石屎森林,在懂畫的人眼裏都可以畫出味道,那需要看大量的好作品去浸淫出來。當然,背後還有一大堆原因,我就不說太多了。

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To draft or not to draft

I love watercolours. However, as a self-learner and beginner,  there’s always one problem that bothers me – should I draft with a pencil first? I bought some gorgeous peonies from the flower market, and they’re just perfect for me to do a comparison.

The drawing above is my first try with pencil draft and watercolour. I’m quite happy with it because with the help of the draft, I can draw the details of almost every petal. The clear lines also tell me where I should leave it blank or add shadows, and I would not be confused when handling layers of petals, so the result looks somehow more clean and organised. The second drawing is an attempt with watercolour only. Without any lines, I tried to use bold colours to express the contrast because I love how every petal is affected by the light differently. I think the result gives a free style though I want it to be more elegant and get more details.In this little experiment, I think I feel more comfortable with a pencil draft. That’s only for me of course, as there are so many artists who can do great in both. Well, I have to admit I’m not quite there yet, but no matter which medium I’m using, I would say confidence (and practises) is the key. Even when there are lines, it won’t look nice if the lines are choppy or hazy. I think a recent saying on the internet lately can be applied here: It takes efforts to work effortlessly well. Which style do you prefer? Drop me a few words to let me know 😉

Can’t help to do a pencil drawing
My favourite snacks while I draw!

A Walk in the Woods, oil on canvas

Oil on canvas, 457 x 610mm
Hi everyone, I hope you all had a great Easter. For me I spent most of the holidays on my new painting and I’m really delighted to show you my work.

The painting was inspired by my trip to Bruges, Belgium last year. I had a lovely walk in the woods of Begijnhof, and I loved the serenity when the sun shone through the leaves. The picture stayed on my mind and I had been wanting to re-create it on canvas. 

In the painting I hope to capture the light and the beautiful and vibrant colours of leaves. I’m not very familiar with using oil actually, though there’s some common knowledge that can be applied, for example  using the shadows on the ground to make a contrast to light. I enjoyed doing this painting so much and it brought back so much good memories, I hope you like it too. 

Begijnhof, Bruges

Spring in the city 

While spring means sunshine and blossoms in many places, it’s a lot more subtle in Hong Kong (usually comes with the unwelcome fog and wetness), but when you take a closer look, you can still see some lovely signs of spring here. 

I was so moved by this beautiful view when crossing a pedestrian bridge today. I loved how the trees blossomed so quietly yet so elegantly. It also made such an amusing contrast to the busy traffic , kind of giving an impression that human and plants were minding their own business, busying for their own lives. 

Well, I think the sketch could be better, but as I did it on the bridge I had to finish it quickly before the wind blew my stuff away or the people started commenting. Good thing is I found a cute corner in the urban jungle.