Euphoria in Christmas

Week 13.

Submission of our final assignment: A scene in the story you wrote in class.

Two weeks prior, Professor Kelly gave us the topic for our final assignment. It wasn’t exactly a one word or a one sentence topic. Rather, she posed us with question prompts to craft a story based on our memory, triggered by ‘food’.

For my final piece, I’ve decided to embark on a composition triggered by Chimney Cakes, locally known as Kürtőskalács in Hungary. The flavour of the Chimney Cake I had was cinnamon and sugar.

Here goes my story:
Two years ago, I was at a Christmas market in Hungary. My purpose for being there was pleasure – a Christmas vacation with my parents. The time then was late afternoon/evening, where the skies were turning dark. Though the sun has set, there were still light from the sky. The bulbs from the street lights, as well as the Christmas lightings/decorations contributed to providing light around the area. The air felt cold – a comfortable, cozy cold – and smelled a little smokey due to food being cooked, and wine being mulled, in the stalls around us. I was marvelling at the way Chimney Cakes were made, as well as waiting for my opportunity to savour this lovely cake goodness. I saw people, Christmas lights, trees, and beautiful architecture. There were noises from the crowd and a hint of  varying Christmas songs. Cobblestone tiles were at my feet. Street lamps and the sky were above my head. The Christmas market was set up at an open space area.

Composition Sketches #01 – #03
Sketch #04
Sketch #05
Final Sketch

Euphoria – a feeling of intense excitement and happiness.

The title of my final piece is ‘Euphoria in Christmas‘ because I want to express the state of intense joy I feel during Christmas. Christmas has a euphoric magic on me that I can’t explain. I just feel, happy. The story of my final piece is not based on a dramatic scene. Rather, it is one that is ordinary and can be easily overlooked. It is simply soaking the Christmas atmosphere at a Christmas market. This scene, to me, is one of bliss where I get to enjoy the simplicity of life – being in the moment, not rushing through it, and being with my family.

A Chimney Cake is not a luxurious food item. It is a domestic delicacy one is able to get at an affordable price locally.

Coming from a commercialised, modern Asian city, I am often mesmerised by the architecture in Europe. Perhaps to the masses who grew up with these buildings, the European architecture is nothing special. But to me, the intricacies of these architectures – curves in its details, fascinates me. They contrast the uniform buildings filled with standard shapes and lines that I am used to. There are great details even in the street lamps. Instead of drawing the street lamp that is originally in the picture of the background of my final piece, I decided to draw another lamp which has more intricate details to encapsulate my awe with the details of Europe.

Why have I decided to draw a picture plane of a Christmas festive in Europe, you may wonder. Why not Christmas at home, or Christmas elsewhere – in other continents? Well, I find Christmas in Europe more homely, simplistically, in Europe, than the Christmas we have in Singapore. Not that the Christmas in Singapore isn’t exciting. Rather, it is a little too fancy for a fuzzy feel. Christmas in Europe feels warm and cozy, despite the chilly weather. It is truly a time where families gather. It is also a time I get to spend with my parents without the distractions of the hustle and bustle of the demands of work back home.

Christmas just feels so right to me. I get immensely happy even when I listen to Christmas songs. My final composition is one memory that I would like to keep and relive it. Hopefully it gives the same sense of tranquility and euphoria to you who see it too 🙂 .

As the semester concludes, so will our art class – DA1000. It has been an exciting journey filled with discovery. Art is something I’ve always wanted to try my hand at, but never had the chance to do so. Despite the short duration of thirteen weeks, I’ve learnt a great deal, and feel like I have a more intimate walk with art than I do in the past. Thank you Professor Kelly and all of my course mates for this interesting art journey. It gave me the opportunity for a couple of ‘first times’. From life drawing to clay sculpting, art is a lesson I always look forward to, and would be pumped about. All the best for your upcoming examinations, and your future endeavours. May you have a wonderful winter hauls, and a beautiful Christmas. Till we meet again (hopefully in the next art class), cheers!

Stephanie Composed

Week 12.

Stephanie Composed.

After the two mini activities we did at the start of the lesson, we begin to work on our composition of Stephanie. Unlike other life drawing sessions where we had to focus on the model’s poses, we had to focus on the details around the model – Stephanie, in this composition. In this class, we were taught to make use of the patterns we observe around our subject to bring our composition to life, instead of solely working on the subject itself.

Nature at its finest

The assignment given to us for week 10/11 (to be submitted on week 12) was “Our relationship to Nature“.

We were to talk about our relationship to nature with the aid of these question prompts:

  1. How or where do you interact with nature?
  2. What is nature to you?
  3. How does Singapore the city interact with nature?
  4. How does the commercialisation of nature effect the way you interact with nature?

(We were required to make three sketches investigating different compositions, then make one final drawing.)

Three composition sketches.
Final drawing.

The venue where I decide to base my composition on is Upper Seletar Reservoir.

Nature to me is simple. It is nothing complicated or ‘fancy’. Nature is somewhere I can be myself, be at peace, and appreciate the intricacies of life. Reflecting, I see myself interacting with nature (more so) when I’m abroad. Especially in winter. I remember walking on the pathway of a national park in Slovenia last December – listening to the sounds of water gushing don the stream, the birds chirping, and just taking a deep breath of the cold, fresh air. Bliss. I’m not sure how typical this may be, but my interaction with nature is rooted where the tranquility of it surrounds me. Nature, to me, is not limited to trees, flowers, animals, and water, but the magnanimity of the vast skies included. I love watching the clouds, sunsets, sunrises, and gazing at stars. To describe the sky in one word – breathtaking.

I would say Singapore interacts with nature in a unique way – somewhat like an obligation without (exactly) the negative connotation. For every road paved, or building built, one will notice trees and flowers planted within the vicinity. In fact, Singapore is pride to be a Garden City. Measures as such to incorporate nature into our commercialised state are taken to ensure nature is still present despite our rapid development.

The commercialisation of nature makes me appreciate and value nature – to not take it for granted. It serves as a reminder for me to ‘stop and smell the roses’, or in our context, stop and appreciate the flowers and plants – whatever they may be – and not brush pass them like how Singapore’s increasingly accelerated pace of life is carrying us. Because of the commercialisation of nature, authentic nature became my escape route.

Amongst the three composition sketches that I’ve done, I chose to base my final piece on composition sketch #02 as I found it most apt in describing my relationship to nature, as well as Singapore’s. The sign that displays ‘No fishing’ is an evidence of Singapore’s commercialisation of nature – that while you are given a scenic view and a serene environment, you are not allowed to engage in an activity associated with nature – fishing. Despite the restriction, however, this atmosphere of nature in the tropics is still tranquil – reflecting the authentic nature I seek. One is still able to hear the swishing of the water, observe the reflection of the sun rays glistening on water, see the clouds and birds in the sky, and feel the cozy warm heat on your skin. Albeit the commercialisation of nature in my city, such a venue where authentic nature can be felt exists!

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These are some pictures I took at Upper Seletar Reservoir. Do give this lovely place a visit if you’re ever keen! It’s a scenic place to go for a jog in the early morning and catch the sunrise.

Night Drawing

Week 11.

Class started late for this week’s tutorial as we were doing a night drawing.

Night drawing from the perspective of the road opposite ADM.

We used crayons, pastels, and charcoal on brown paper, to compose this piece of drawing. We were taught to observe the middle tones, light tones, and dark tones of our picture plane. It was fascinating how the night scene of our drawings are brought to life with the use of the appropriate colours. I’m not sure about you, but these days when I walk about at night, I’ll start to take notice of the lights that affect our surroundings, and (possibly) compose a similar picture plane, or a rough sketch, as with the one above, in my head. The wonders that art does to one is curiously amazing.

Life Drawing – IV

Week 10.
(We had no lesson on week 9.)

As the title of this post suggests, we had our fourth life drawing! Only this time, we had a male model instead of a female model as per the previous three life drawing sessions. It was a tricky challenge drawing this week’s life model as he had a muscular and well-defined body. Many details had to be looked into for his features to be brought out. The following are the sketches I did during the lesson (in sequential order – from the start to the end of the tutorial):

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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,  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:

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