I Think I Can Paint

I have been a little bit caught up with my new pastime lately and it was my elder boy who reminded me to write something on this space! Yes, he’s my biggest fan, more so than his Dad.

After reviewing the Hello Spring Kit in my last post, I went on to play with the remaining paint that came with the kit and discovered that I could actually paint!

I’ve always been fascinated by people who could sketch, paint or draw through visualizing and imagination. It is amazing how they can store every single details of any object of interest into memory, recreate reality or create something that they have never seen before and put it on paper or a blank canvas.

I have met a couple of these people and it was simply mind blowing seeing them work. When you ask them how they did it, they usually can’t provide a very concrete answer and would probably throw you a perplexed look and answer something to the effect of ‘It’s simple, you mean you can’t?!’. These people have an innate skill, they are talented. I am lucky to have met these people but it has also discouraged me from trying because I knew I don’t have that kind of skill or talent.

So what I did the last couple of weeks was really not something I would usually do, to try something that I am totally not cut out for. It has been fun so far and I have been spending many quiet mornings mixing paint trying to get the perfect blend and attempting different kinds of pictures.

This was painted from a photo I took over the weekend. My younger boy playing with his cousin.

We were at one of those shophouses with an old back alley and these 2 boys spent a long time playing there. There were some rocks and a big bag of sand left over from some renovation work.

They set up a battlefield with little rocks as troops and played for hours. When I showed him this picture and asked him how they played their game, this was his explanation.

‘The rocks are the troops, defenders, king and queen. We are the canon. We fire striker rocks to attack the other person’s base.

To play this game, you must build a mountain with flat and smooth edges on the side. You use the rocks as troops and you stuff them into the sand to stabilize them. After you have built your army you can start the game.

Whoever’s older will strike first. You can use your troops to defend your defenders (which are big and fat rocks) who will defend your king and queen. Once the person has no more troops, defenders and king and queen, he loses’

Watching the boys play reminds me of painting. They might have played there for hours but they barely noticed how long they were there because they were having so much fun. Time flies when you are having fun.

So it doesn’t really matter even if I am not cut out to be an artist or a painter because time seems to zip by the few mornings when I sit down to paint. I guess I must be having fun and that is reason good enough to continue painting! Besides, who knows, I might be able to teach my boys a lesson or two. That even though we are short of talent, our abilities can improve if we put in enough effort.

 

2

Learning Something New – Dottishop’s Hello Spring Kit

So I was lamenting to a friend that I was much more productive when my boys were younger. I remember baking cookies till the wee hours for sales when I was heavily pregnant with my elder boy and running charity project during my second pregnancy. I ran an online store selling baby stuff. I did my own product shooting, order tracking and delivery while juggling household chores, cooking and tending to a demanding baby. I had just quit my job to become a stay at home mom and felt the need to fill my time with ‘productive’ work. Work with tangible rewards that could be measured by dollars and cents unlike those that comes from scrubbing the bathroom tiles, the endless cooing to your newborn and watching him try his first food.

More than a decade on, my boys now spend most part of their days in school. I now have a big pocket of time in the morning where I can devote it to me, myself and I. Ironically, with the extra time on hand, I wasn’t half as ‘productive’ as I used to be. I realised that I might have finally figured out what it means to be a ‘lady of leisure’ but now having too much of a good thing is beginning to worry me! Such irony!

My friend and I joked that we should pick up a new skill, learn something new to get our brain active and prevent our grey matter from degenerating. Even with this study, I wasn’t totally convinced that just regular exercise will be good enough.

My friend is an avid online learner. She learned and refined many of her craft skills online. Inspired by her, I did the same and signed up for some painting classes and thought that that would be a good start. Unfortunately, there is always something more urgent to do on a weekday morning. I never find the time and discipline to go through those videos!

Then recently I found out about Dottieshop’s Hello Spring Kit, which comes with step by step instructions for painting spring blooms such as cherry blossoms and roses. I was really eager to try out the kit yet at the same time worried that I might not be up to it.

I have known Dorothea through a group of mother bloggers and have been really inspired by her works on water colour painting and brush calligraphy. She has been really encouraging even when I told her that I have never done water colour painting before and was kind enough to trust me to do a review for her kit!

One of the things that baffles me when it comes to the different kinds of painting was getting the appropriate materials to get started. From choosing the type of paint brush to figuring out what kind of paper and paint to use. The Hello Spring Kit has EVERYTHING to help me get started!

Being a total noob, I was really intrigued by the water brush that came with the kit.

A water brush has a reservoir of water that is attached to the brush. The amount of water you feed to the brush/paint can be controlled by squeezing the barrel of water. What makes a water brush really cool is that artists can paint on the go without having to carry a water container around!

I initially worried that the choice of colours that came in the palette were too dark and dull. To my surprise, each blob of dull paint changed into lovely beautiful colour once water was added.

It just so happens that a good friend was celebrating her birthday this month and I decided to paint something for her from the Hello Spring kit which illustrated some of my favourite flowers.

Dorothea’s instructions were brief and concise and I especially like the fact that she has very clear pictures of how the leaves and petals were supposed to look like. Still, it wasn’t easy to get the strokes and colours right. I fumbled with how much water to squeeze to get the right colour tone. I figured out that it was much easier to just draw the shape of each petal and fill them with colours!

After a morning of mixing colours and experimenting, I managed to churn out what looked like an amateurish mish mesh of everything.

Unlike my usual adrenaline pumping aerobic work out, a morning spent working on this kit was really calming and therapeutic. I was so engrossed and focused on what I was doing that my legs turned numb from sitting too long in the same position without shifting!

It was especially satisfying to see the different blobs of paint come together, creating a decent looking piece of work and I especially love the colours that Dorothea has chosen for the palette!

I realised that I will require many more sessions of practice before I could perfect my flowers and leaves but for now, I gonna make up to my friend with a cutesy bouquet of REAL flowers and just hope she doesn’t notice the flaws in my painting! Shhhh!

The Hello Spring kit includes instructions for painting cherry blossoms, roses and Japanese anemones, quality watercolour paint, palette, water brush, and watercolour paper. Everything comes in a pretty pink folder, so you can bring everything with you on-the-go! Each set is $46 and only available for self-collect – to order email dottieshop@gmail.com

You can follow Dottieshop on Facebook and Instagram.

 

2
This entry was posted in craft.

Growing The Roots Of Tradition And Custom

It’s the 7th day of Chinese New Year (CNY). The Chinese called it Renri and it is said to be everyone’s birthday. It is the day for Yusheng (Prosperity Toss) and Tang Yuan (Dumplings).

I used to chide at my mom for kicking up a big fuss over Chinese New Year, only to find myself just as anal as her when it comes to preparing for this occasion. Why? So that it feels like Chinese New Year.

There probably isn’t any logical or scientific explanation for the many things we do during CNY such as the incessant cleaning and obsession of having new things. New clothes, new shoes, new bedsheets etc.

Reading through my old CNY posts reminded me that I struggled with some sort of identity crisis every year during this time. Yes, I believe that a troubled and confused mind is the reason behind these posts, much like troubled times create poets.

By now, I should have written everything I wanted to say about Chinese New Year.

Or maybe not.

This year, I relearned some of these old lessons, which reminded me that I should just make it a point to read through some of these posts every year!

It struck me again that there isn’t such thing as advance spring cleaning. An earlier start just leads to a longer torment. Things start to get dusty again after 1 week. There is always more things to clean! The grout in your kitchen tiles and the metal parts around the house that were screaming out for Brasso!

Each year, apart from all the incessant cleaning, I couldn’t resist making something.

It wasn’t due to a lack of choice when it comes to pineapple tarts or Kueh Lapis, unlike when we were living overseas. I learned that rational and logical thinking can’t win the deep roots of customs and traditions our mothers, grandmothers and great grandmothers growed.

I am lucky to have 2 great chefs in my life, my mother and my mother-in-law. Both of them have very different styles of cooking. I shall call them the Agaration Chef and the Precision Chef.

The Agaration Chef will steam her yam cake every year but can’t tell you exactly how much of each ingredient she used. The Precision Chef knows the exact amount, right down to how many grams of Bee Hoon she needs to feed each person. She keeps an old industrial size weighing machine in her kitchen and she weighs everything.

After many years of nagging, the Agaration Chef finally sees the light, that precise measurement has its place when it comes to cooking certain food. And through the years, the Precision Chef has lost some of her ability to remember precise measurement due to an aging brain.

This year, I made something that were Chinese New Year Signature food from each chef. They were signature because these are the food that make us think of them.

I made Agaration Chef’s Yam Cake and Precision Chef’s Ah Zhar through a mix of agaration, precise measurement and some trial and errors. My boys thought they were the best yam cake and Ah Zhar.

The fact is, every household will probably have their best yam cake, Ah Zhar, pineapple tarts or Kueh Lapis. It is like my boys may think that I am the BEST cook but my nephews may cringe at the food I cooked.

The truth is, I am far from being the best. My boys are biased. They grew up eating what I cooked and have grown accustomed to my cooking. Any other ways of preparing the same food can only come second best.

So even if I can’t make the best Kueh Lapis, it’s ok. My boys will probably grow up thinking that Kueh Lapis should taste a little charred and a little chewy just like Mom’s. That is to them, the Best Kueh Lapis, the kind that they will miss because in the midst of feeding them these food, I have grown the roots, of tradition and custom, things that they will remember and hopefully carry on even long after I am gone.

 
 

3
Page 5 of 259« First...34567...102030...Last »