Where do you find autonomy?

Week 8.

Unlike the past three weeks where we did live drawings of models, we drew our classmates and Kris for our in-class assignments this week. We focused on faces – how one feature is in relation to another.

In-class assignment – An incomplete drawing of Julius.
In-class assignment – A drawing of Kris.

The question posed to us for week eight’s assignment was: “Where do you find autonomy?“. We are to do two rough composition sketches, and one final drawing. For our final drawing, we were given a choice of drawing a space, place, somewhere we feel we can do what we want, somewhere nobody else tells us what to do, or to draw ourselves doing something we feel we have the freedom to make our own decisions.

Answering this question was a little tricky. I’ve to search deep within me, asking myself where exactly do I find this freedom of being my own individual self. According to dictionary.com,  autonomy is the independence or freedom, as of the will of one’s action. In my two sketches, I was exploring my interpretation of autonomy.

Sketch #01 – Autonomy in the dark, where the streets are relatively quiet, and most people are asleep. 2.01am at the area around Central Business District.

There is something strangely serene being by yourself in the hours where no one is really present. Not in a ‘creepily quiet’ way where it’s dangerous. Rather, the stillness of the air, the quiet streets and roads, starkly contrasted to the hustle and bustle of the day, that allows me to be at peace with myself – to have some healthy ‘alone’ time. I guess I found autonomy, though not full, in the wee hours of the night simply because the city is asleep. For a brief moment, I’m able to let go of the demands from the day – where I’m needed to be up and running. With my headphones plugged in, listening to my favourite songs, I’m able to unwind and I feel (relatively) free. Sketching our nation’s iconic landmark – Marina Bay Sands, away from the public eye.

Sketch #02 – Bathroom in the comfort of my home.

The second sketch is a drawing of the bathroom in the comfort of my home. I guess many might relate to the biological ‘autonomy’ they feel when they’re in the bathroom. The autonomy I’m referring to in this sketch is not one of biological intimacy but of isolation (not in a bad way). Contrary to feeling trapped and (possibly) claustrophobic in a small room, I feel somewhat free – free to express my rawest emotions without having to explain what might be written on my face. Because when the door of the bathroom is closed, there will be no questions asked. Perhaps it is when I’m alone that I’m able to find autonomy – to be able to freely think, reflect, and confront the voices in my head, with music as my companionship.

Final piece – a drawing of ‘doing something I feel I have the freedom to make my own decisions’.

After exploring my definition of autonomy in the above two sketches, I’ve decided to do my final piece based on a drawing of ‘doing something I feel I have the freedom to make my own decisions’ – that is when I’m holding a pen or a pencil. A place which I feel I can exercise full autonomy is in my mind – no one else has the authority to tell me how to think and what to think, but me. Writing and drawing are the mediums I use to engage in autonomy. I’m able to translate the thoughts I want to project physically, or conceal them by choosing not to make my mark at all. In my opinion, a pen and paper are powerful tools, powerful weapons if you may. With these two objects that may seem routine, I have the independence and liberty to make decisions on my word choices, syntax, expression – writing – and how harsh I want the lines, or how dark I want the shades to be – drawing.

Week Seven’s Home Assignment.

We were tasked with an assignment based on three question prompts:

  1. What would you like to change about where you live?
  2. What do you struggle with?
  3. What do you love and enjoy?

In this assignment, we are to make three sketches investigating different compositions, then make 1 final drawing.

Sketch #01 – The view of the buildings at Central Business District from Marina Bay Sands; night scene.
Sketch #02 (left) is a drawing of my Mom eating a chocolate ice-cream on a cone. Sketch #03 (right) is a sketch of a tree at Holland Village at night.
Final Sketch: A combination of compositions – Citibank building at Central Business District (CBD), Street lamp along the roads to Marina Bay Sands, a tree, and my parents sitting on a bench under the tree.

What do I love and enjoy (about my nation)? I love the peace and security we enjoy, and our laws, albeit its harsh nature, for it ensures the two entities (as stated above) are in place. I love the fact that Singapore is made up of a melting pot of cultures, that we are one despite our varying backgrounds. I enjoy the prosperity and economic success of my nation. However, the very success of Singapore is perhaps the thing I struggle with most.

I struggle with the competitive nature and fixated mindset of our society. My society is systematic, which is probably why we rose to success within a short span of thirty years. I can’t help but wonder if somewhere en route to our present day success, we lost our creativity, freedom of thought, and cast away our innate desire for curiosity.

My Junior College (JC) literature teacher used to say ‘literature is not about forcing a square peg into a round hole’. On a similar note, yet somewhat slightly different, I feel that many of us are forced to be moulded into uniform square boxes in a bid for perfection (thus Singapore’s success). Instead of square pegs, I see each of us as our own uniquely different lines. Some of us may be straight lines, some may be jagged. Others may be squiggly, full of curves, or simply a mixture of both. The combinations are endless. Yet, because our society subjects us to conformity and perfection, many of these lines never (exactly) realise their full potential. They took the safe road. ‘Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,’ most would take the one well-trodden.

I struggle with society’s expectation of wanting nothing but the best, to be the cream of the crop. Lest you just might be less than mediocre, even if you’re one of the better ones, losing the rat’s race. Society’s expectations of dictating who we should be as individuals is what I would like to change about where I live. A change that I would like to see is that it is okay to not be a standard box. It is absolutely alright to be who you want to be – loud, free, and proud – in your own creative individuality.

The architecture (high rise building) drawn is a reflection of this struggle I face, the conflicting views on my nation’s success – that we are systematic yet effective, restrictive and subjected to conformity (as shown by the harsh, and bold straight lines of the architecture) yet economic prosperity is brought about (the architecture being luscious with glass panels, and within the vicinity of CBD).

The tree is a representation of our individual selves. Trees of the same type of seed, even when planted under identical conditions, will never grow to be copies of one another. Likewise, each of us, though governed by the same rules and similar upbringing, will never be the perfect same as another due to our own individual characteristics.

That being said, one can never have his/her cake, and eat it too, can he/she? Easier said than done, I think balance is essential. Through it all, however, I am immensely grateful and blessed to have a wonderful set of parents who, despite society’s expectations of conformity, never once impose on me. They have never once placed any academic pressure, nor any other forms of pressure for that matter, and have never wanted me to conform. Instead, they constantly shower me with words of encouragements to be me – boldly, courageously, and uniquely free. As such, I drew them in my final piece for they are ‘what’ I love about the place I live.

Clay Sculpting at Dragon Kiln

We went on a clay sculpting adventure at the Dragon Kiln on the Saturday morning of week 7. It was an interesting and exciting experience – watching the clay you mould come to live, or to shape at the very least, is rewarding. Clay sculpting is also rather therapeutic.

Here are some pictures of what went on during the clay sculpting session:

A picture of Haifa and the rest concentrating on moulding their figures, getting rid of the excess clay.
A picture of Professor Kelly demonstrating and sculpting her clay model.

The following are process pictures of the clay sculpture I did:

img_8552 img_8556

(Relatively) Side (and top) view of the finished product.
Top view of the finished product.


Life Drawing – III

Week 7.

Week 7 sure was an eventful week. We started class on Monday with an examination of lights on different objects – lightest light, middle tones, darkest dark, shadow, cast shadow, reflective light, and tone next to tone. Thereafter, we began our third life drawing. This time applying all the techniques we’ve learnt previously, such as proportions, relativity, and toning.

Toning Exercise
In-class assignment: An examination of lights and shadows on different objects.

The pictures below are of the assignment we did in class – life drawing III.




Live Drawing III - Toning; Sketch 01
Applying the technique of toning in Life Drawing III – Sketch #01
Live Drawing III - Toning; Sketch #02
Applying the technique of toning in Life Drawing III – Sketch #02
Live Drawing III - Toning; Sketch #03
Applying the technique of toning in Life Drawing III – Sketch #03

We ended the last week of the first part of Semester I with a trip to the Dragon Kiln on Saturday. It sure was an interesting experience to end off the hectic week! Our trip to the Dragon Kiln will be further elaborated in the next post.