Monday, December 23, 2013

Preparing for Angkor

In just over a couple of weeks, I will be heading up to Siem Reap with some Urban Sketcher friends to visit Angkor. It is my first trip to Cambodia, and from what I've read, the 6 days (inclusive of 2 traveling days) there will certainly not be enough to sketch all (or even half!) the temples of ancient Angkor. A second trip would certainly be needed, and maybe more.

In an earlier post, I documented some of the tools I was planning on bringing. I already tried to cut down. That was until we met for a trip planning gathering with local artist Tungtong.

Tungtong has been to Angkor many, many times over the years. He draws on 1m x 1m sheets of paper (huge!) and has made many friends with the locals. His sharing really opened our eyes to many things, including how to approach our art. He challenged us to think bigger, and perhaps draw bigger, and not try to stinge on materials, extra baggage costs, etc. If art is what we are going for, art should be our priority. Who knows, sometime down the road, somebody may want to pay top dollar for a sketch we did there, but if we compromised on materials, quality, etc., it would just devalue our work.

So much for trying to pack lighter...

Tungtong won an award with the Singapore Art Society this year. He is a very experienced artist and photographer. I should take his advice seriously.

On another note, I just acquired a tube of Quinacridone Gold. This pigment is no longer being produced, and it appears that Daniel Smith is the only art materials supplier that makes watercolours with the original PO49 pigment (other brands have since substituted the pigment for others). I've reshuffled a couple of half-pans in my travel kit, swapping a Raw Sienna for Quin Gold, and changing my Cerulean Blue to Daler-Rowney's Aquafine's Cerulean Blue (Hue). The Aquafines are actually student grade, but one of my artist friends said it was one of the better ones he has tried. I did a quick test comparing it with Winsor & Newton's and Rembrandt's, and found I liked the Aquafine's shade better.

#20 is Permanent Green, I think. I meant to check before taking the photo, but forgot.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

I'm Featured on Parka Blogs!

My friend who runs the famous Parka Blogs, which reviews art books and posts lots of arts-related writeups, is currently doing a series of articles on art tools. Today, he has given me the honour of featuring some of my tools!

You can visit the post at

Be sure to bookmark his page. He updates it practically every day.

Oh, and one more thing, I'll be travelling with him to Siem Reap next month with a few Urban Sketcher friends to sketch Angkor! So stay tuned!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

My Travel Kit - well, most of it...

I meant to draw my sketching kit for my last trip, but never got about to doing it. So, in preparation for the next trip(s), I decided to sketch my travel kit in my trip preparation sketchbook! I am using a Daler Rowney Graduate A5 paperback sketchbook for my trip prep this time. It's very affordable, and it is great for multimedia. The paper takes wash pretty well - especially light washes - without buckling. It's also great for markers and dry media.

I tend to be quite a packer when it comes to traveling. I don't know why, but it's just me. This kit is already thinned down from my previous trips, and will easily fit into 2 of my cases. Anyway, that's enough of talking. Maybe you could share with me what your travel kit is like too!

Copyright © Favian Ee  Dec 2013

Copyright © Favian Ee  Dec 2013
P.S. I forgot to include my Tombow HB pencil and my white pencil. The felt brush-tip markers included are only representative of the entire set of 20+ colours. Several other tools are not included in the drawings, such as my inks, water containers and pencil cases. Maybe I'll do one more page and include some other stuff.

UPDATE 23/12/13:
Here's the third page of my tools, featuring my carrying cases!

Copyright © Favian Ee  Dec 2013

Monday, October 21, 2013

Northern Capital, Western Peace - A Sketchpacker's Diary (2/2)

Continued from Part 1.

Copyright © Favian Ee  Sept 2013
The Great Wall at Mutianyu

Copyright © Favian Ee  Sept 2013
The Great Wall at Mutianyu

Copyright © Favian Ee  Sept 2013
I meant to finish this sketch of the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests
in the evening light after getting back, but decided to leave it as a
reminder that once the moment is lost, sketching it would never be the same...

Copyright © Favian Ee  Sept 2013
Waiting for our train...

Copyright © Favian Ee  Sept 2013
High speed train from Beijing to Xi'an

Copyright © Favian Ee  Sept 2013
Ticket of Xi'an City Walls and sketch of the Big Wild Goose Pagoda (大雁塔)

Copyright © Favian Ee  Sept 2013
The Bell Tower (钟楼) and Drum Tower (鼓楼)of Xi'an

Copyright © Favian Ee  Sept 2013
The Great Mosque. This is the only on-site sketch I did in Xi'an because
the rest of the time I was either on tour or with another bunch of tourists.

Copyright © Favian Ee  Sept 2013
The Muslim Quarter

Copyright © Favian Ee  Sept 2013
Forest of Stone Stelae (碑林) Museum

Copyright © Favian Ee  Sept 2013
Terracotta Army of Qin Shihuang and Qin Shihuang's Mausoleum

Copyright © Favian Ee  Sept 2013
Xi'an night tour

Copyright © Favian Ee  Sept 2013
Shaanxi History Museum artifacts
The museum gives out 4000 free tickets a day.

Copyright © Favian Ee  Sept 2013
Han Yang Ling (汉阳陵), tomb of Emperor Jingdi

Copyright © Favian Ee  Sept 2013
The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests (祈年殿) in the Altar of Heaven Park (天坛公园)

Copyright © Favian Ee  Sept 2013
Buildings and structures around the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests
and Circular Mound Altar (圆丘)

Copyright © Favian Ee  Sept 2013
Things around the Imperial Vault of Heaven (皇穹宇)

Copyright © Favian Ee  Sept 2013
Left: Information on China's music history one one panel
in the Divine Music Administration
Right: People exercising and playing shuttlecock in the Altar of the Sun park (日坛公园)

Copyright © Favian Ee  Sept 2013
Left: Stone boat at Altar of the Sun Park
Right: Lunch at Qianmendajie and Dazhalan, including
siew mai (a kind of dumplings) from the famed 都一处

Copyright © Favian Ee  Sept 2013
Left: My loot from Liulichang (琉璃厂)
Right: Chinese Christian paper cutting of Christ's resurrection

Copyright © Favian Ee  Sept 2013
Waiting for our flight back

Copyright © Favian Ee  Sept 2013

I guess that's all, folks! I hope you enjoyed the sketches and travelogue (I actually kept a separate notebook for a more detailed travelogue), and found the information in the links useful. Hope this also inspires you to keep your own travel sketchalogue! This is one souvenir that you can never get anywhere else!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Northern Capital, Western Peace - A Sketchpacker's Diary (1/2)

I've scanned my sketchbook from my China trip to Beijing and Xi'an. There are a total of 43 two-page spreads, so I'll split them into 2 posts. This is the first half.

Not all the pages are of my sketches, though. Several are just tickets and receipts of places visited, and a few pages are of writings. For the most part I used an A5 Stillman and Birn Alpha sketchbook (all the portrait format ones). The 2 landscape format sketches of the Forbidden City and Great Wall were done on a Daler-Rowney Graduate A4 landscape hardcover sketchbook.


Copyright © Favian Ee  Sept 2013
Waiting for our plane to arrive at Changi Airport. We took Malaysia Airlines, not Tiger.

Copyright © Favian Ee  Sept 2013
Flight to Kuala Lumpur

Copyright © Favian Ee  Sept 2013
Transiting at Kuala Lumpur and Sunday service in Bejing

Copyright © Favian Ee  Sept 2013

Copyright © Favian Ee  Sept 2013
Arrow Tower 箭楼, Zhengyangmen 正阳门, Beijing.
This is all that is left of the once-great Beijing city walls

Copyright © Favian Ee  Sept 2013
Outside Mao Zedong's Mausoleum and NCPA

Copyright © Favian Ee  Sept 2013
Tiananmen 天安门

Copyright © Favian Ee  Sept 2013
Panorama of the Forbidden City 紫禁城 as seen from Jingshan Park 景山公园

Copyright © Favian Ee  Sept 2013
Hall of Supreme Harmony 太和殿 in the Forbidden City

Copyright © Favian Ee  Sept 2013
Imperial clocks collection

Copyright © Favian Ee  Sept 2013
Imperial Treasures exhibition

Copyright © Favian Ee  Sept 2013
Hutong scene and the CCTV Headquarters

Copyright © Favian Ee  Sept 2013
Ming Tombs 明十三陵

Copyright © Favian Ee  Sept 2013

Copyright © Favian Ee  Sept 2013
Statue of Emperor Yongle at Changling

Copyright © Favian Ee  Sept 2013
Suzhou Street in The Summer Palace 颐和园 in Beijing

Copyright © Favian Ee  Sept 2013
Left: Scenes of the Summer Palace
Right: Ruins in the Old Summer Palace 圆明园, which was burnt
to the ground by the Anglo-French Allied Forces in 1860

Go on to Part 2!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Some Reflections on Sketchpacking, and a Photolog of My Sketches from My China Trip

I just returned from a 2-week trip to China (Beijing and Xi'an) a few days ago. It will take a while before I scan all my sketches and put them up, but I did take some photographs of my drawings along the way to show that I've "been there, drawn that!"

I brought a lot of materials on my trip and had big ambitions: Complete at least 1 sketchbook with nicely finished drawings that I can publish; keep a travelogue - no, two! - one written nicely with a calligraphy pen, another for my random scribbles, to be organized later into proper writing/typing. I spent a lot of money on materials and gear specially selected for the trip too - Pitt pens, camera pouch, watercolour box, other pens... But in the end, my great ambitions had to adapt and change like my itinerary, and give way to the practicalities of travel. It turned out that this trip - far from being one where I would create great art for publication - was one where I would learn much about myself and my travel habits, and one of the biggest lessons I would learn was the reality of the wise adage: LESS IS MORE.

One doesn't need a lot to create good art. Take my friend James, for example, who took half a year off to travel and sketch the world. His kit is minimal, but his works are many and admirable. I can't wait till he publishes his travel sketches (I hope he does!). Having a small kit helps you focus on drawing rather than fussing about what to use. As one artist said, "I find limitations liberating." I tend to want to do too many things when I travel (for this trip, I wanted to see many things, try my hand at travel writing, take photos, take videos, sketch, meet up with family and friends...). After all, I'm paying that much to go overseas to see and experience a different place. There's so much to see and do! But sketching is something that requires you to slow down, which might mean having to forgo seeing some things you would've liked to. Prioritizing and flexibility is thus necessary, unless you can spare the time (and money) to stay longer and take it slower. Not all of us have that luxury.

During my trip, there were those who saw me drawing and remarked, "Why not just take a photograph?" We sketchers hear that from time to time, and sometimes I'm tempted to retort, "Because I can (and you can't)." But there is a deeper and far better reason why we do it. You see, we experience the place through sketching. When you sketch, you take time to observe, to soak in the environment, to experience the sights, the colours, the smells, the sounds - something no photograph nor video can reproduce. You become connected to the place at that moment in time, and your impressions, feelings, thoughts, get captured on paper forever. And when you look back at your sketchbook, you are there at that place again. That is why we sketch on-location, even though I sometimes have no choice but to sketch from photos (such as when I'm on a group tour where nobody will wait for me). And no matter what people say about you being crazy sketching everything everywhere, or about why you don't just take a photo, they too will enjoy looking at your sketchbook when it is done, if they are not already enjoying observing you as you transform a blank sheet of paper into a work of art. But all this is possible only if you spend time in a place, and allow it to make an impression on you, which rushing through with cameras clicking never can.

On this trip, I didn't manage to draw as much as I had hoped. Some of the more finished pieces which I completed on-site were done when I split from my travel buddies, but at other times they were kind and patient enough to wait for me (including the time when I took 2 solid hours to draw the Forbidden City). Neither was I able to keep 2 travelogues. I managed one, but barely: it took me the whole 7-hours' flight back to catch up on 5 days of backlog, and I still had a day's journaling left to do, not counting my reflections from the trip! Sketching and writing were hard work! I slept later than my buddies every night updating my sketchbook and travelogue. But in the end, it's all worth it. You just need to know your limits and keep everything in balance.

Alright, I think I have rambled on long enough. Here are the photos for now. The scans will come later.

Waiting at Changi Airport

We took Malaysia Airlines, not Tiger. This was before our plane arrived at the gate.

The plane from Singapore to KL was pretty small. We switched to a larger one for the flight to Beijing.

The worship leader was drawn from a photograph.

First meals in Beijing

Arrow Tower of Zhenngyangmen, Bejing

Statue at Mao Zedong's Mausoleum

National Centre for Peforming Arts
Otherwise known as "Giant Egg"

Tiananmen - Gate of Heavenly Peace
Repainting works going on for National Day on 1 Oct

Forbidden City as seen from Jingshan Park

Taihedian - Hall of Supreme Harmony, Forbidden City

Imperial Clocks Collection

Imperial Jade Seal

Cypress tree in the Forbidden City


CCTV Tower
Also called "Big Underpants" because it looks like 2 legs squatting

My niece looks on as I add wash at night

Ornamental pillar at the Sacred Way, 13 Ming Tombs

The Sacred Way (or Spirit Way / Divine Way)

General statue at the Sacred Way

Stele Pavilion of Divine Merits and Sacred Virtue of Changling


Emperor Yongle

Suzhou Street in the Summer Palace

Long Corridor in the Summer Palace

Nanhu Island

Ruins in the Old Summer Palace

Great Wall at Mutianyu

Lunch on the high-speed train to Xi'an

The Great Mosque at Xi'an

The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests in the Altar of Heaven Park, Bejing

Stone Boat at the Altar of the Sun Park, Beijing

Our plane back from Beijing. The flight was delayed 7 hours.

I used about 80 pages of my sketchbook (including pages for tickets, brochures, and receipts. It's probably the most sketching I've done for any trip so far.