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So it's been a long time since the last newsletter. I do apologise. There's a ton of teaching, a ton of travelling and family matters that took quite a lot of energy. Having excused myself for the great big absence, it is good to be back here now and on with the show.
To start the post off. I'd like to invite you all to this talk about Colour.
Most of you know that I love this watercolour brand, I use it with passion, and I buy Daniel Smith with rigour. So here's an opportunity to geek out a bit more with watercolour.
Meet Daniel Smith's owner John Cogley on the 18th of December 2015, He will be in Singapore represented by Arters', our friendly supplier of Daniel Smith's watercolour here, and some of you might already have this watercolour brand and met with Whee Teck Ong.
Anyways, I am passing on the information for all of you, Don't miss it if you can.
It's been a while since the last blog post. I've not had anything worthwhile to post until now.
I've been going more and more away from big pieces of work, away from abstract art, away from thick paints, and more and more I am drawn to watercolour, back to illustrations, and I've been posting a lot more on instagram and I've had a lot of fun seeing random people liking and following me. It feels like a great sharing place, and not so much words, just images. Images makes me happy. Pretty things, good compositions, good colours.
My most recent hangout with friends made me drew some cards to illustrate what I am thinking about. Those first five cards that I did illustrate what I think about summer, and I drew rain drops, wet grass, swirls of soft ice cream, and the smell of lemon rinds. (imagining what if people could scratch and sniff my cards for all these swells of smells of my summer?) Inspired from that....
This is a new art project I started. It's mainly going to be posted on Instagram. The 'Grateful Art Cards' are cards to remind me what I am grateful for, I started making a list, and the more I think about it, the more the list grew and I realise it's so much fun to make.
You can see them all here
If you want to follow me, do it! Why not?
What are you grateful for?
If you want to suggest more things I can draw that you're grateful for, send me your list, write to me here
This drawing I did a few years ago is called Alice the Bunny. This was a marriage of animal fable often seen in children's books and the desire to test my new set of Daniel Smith watercolour palette. In the spirit of Alice, this Halloween, I decided it's time to escape at least for an evening or two, and be someone, or something else.
These first one was modelled after the Creepy Clown sightings in cities, the eery character that is often lurking in night, poignantly unsettling is what I am going for. The sketches are done to include some Goth elements, with slashes, tutu and leather chocker. The face painting is a white mask with red nose and red lips that carries out into a perpetual creepy grin ala the Batman Joker. It's very effective.
So the end result was shot in front of a closed shop front of a clinic.
I thought about the second costume after discovering this guy's 3D cut out mask patterns of forest animals. Imagine the end result, and I will get it as close as possible to it. The imagine image is of a fairy tale female fox, maybe modelled a little after Mrs Fox from the Fantastic Mr Fox animated film. The dress must be feminine and has the retro look of the 50's, the shoes must be mary jane with a low heel, and there is some beautiful wild flowers around this character. I imagined the Fox head to look like paper-mache and a combination of fantasy and reality where the shading are modelled after actual fox heads but because the shape is angular, it steps away from reality.
The opening was an incredible success, I am so happy lots of people came, friends brought their friends, and my family flew in for the occasion. The speech by Prof. Steve Dixon, was touching on the main issues of my work, presented in a beautiful mixture of Michel Foucault and light-hearted down to earth humour. And the weird obnoxious guy on the phone who end up singing random money songs is a good friend who's also a Tenor for hire. This was our little silly way of adding a twist into an already awesome night. You can contact Mik Rossi here for singing gigs.
And now, here's some details of some of the individual artworks. A few of them have sold now and I've already begun the 'what's next' of the series. Stay tuned for more updates on that in the next article.
Naturally One Manolo and the Greenback Manolo's are of the famous shoe designer Manolo Blahnik. His shoes was made ultra popular in the early 2000's by the TV series Sex and The City. Some of my portraits focuses on designers and people in the industry who are often unseen or their names precedes the person. Some of you might have a pair or two of Manolo Blahnik. Well here's what he looks like. There are symbolism behind the numbers. One being the first number that projects and proposes the one and only, the ultimate, the first! This piece has sold.
The greenback series, are all done with watercolour and prisma pencils, the focus is obvious, the colour green that symbolises the American greenbacks, here the colour is used in a much brighter hue, not the dark green in the US Dollars. The portrait is of Vogue editor extraordinaire Anna Wintour. She is known best as the woman which inspired the book and movie Devils Wear Prada, and was wonderfully dramatised by Meryl Streep. There's also a documentary based on her called The September Issue. She's iconic because she's also known to have never changed her page boy bob hairstyle and wears the sunglasses indoors, in runway shows and everywhere. Here's a small snippet of her and her personality. In my historic past, when living in NY and working in the garment district. I have had bosses like her. Her's is quite a character that's often demonised and called the ice queen, however I highly appreciate the no-nonsense work ethics. The warmth and small talks we project to others is often how we want to be treated by others, and some are so good at it, it becomes a mere front that doesn't hold much sincerity. In my humble opinion, being direct and real as long as you're sincere and respectful is a good thing.
This is one of my favourite because she's 92 years old, and she's famous for wearing avant garde haute couture. Here she's wearing the beautiful butterfly headdress by Alexander McQueen. You can read about Savage Beauty, an exhibit in the Metropolitan Museum of Art about 3 years ago of Alexander McQueen's designs by blogger Garance Dore, here. The story of Alexander McQueen is a tragic one. The headdress was actually produced for McQueen by the famous Miliner Phillip Treacy. This design was inspired by the Singaporean Samsui Woman, the Japanese Ukiyo-e woodblock print and of course influenced heavily by Art Deco. Kinda random? Indeed...That's how I roll.
This piece has also sold.
This large scale illustration is of Alexander McQueen, and I'd rather call it an epilogue, rather then an homage because what his story represents is tragic yet so common in the history of tormented geniuses, they end up taking their own life. The artwork felt like an epilogue, because there are words not yet articulated that will forever remain silent after his death. The piece was a departure from only using ink, and moving towards illustration techniques and use in the end a combined process on rice paper. I enjoyed producing the typography for the letters, it's one extreme remove from abstraction and the change on abstraction is subtle in the serial numbers of all the bank note illustrations.
Every pieces of bank notes has it's story. I shall be writing about a whole other selection in the next blogs. Meanwhile, enjoy these stories.
Doing Good feels Good! And this is one favourite painting I did in 2007 that I've always thought would be a lovely addition to a private home, or an office. The work was part of a series I called 'Storm in A Teacup' . Then I was producing extremely textured works and aiming to project a spiritual tone into the visual sensibility.
Come to the preview if you're free on the 2nd and 3rd of October.
Click anywhere below to go to their Website and download their E-Catalogue to see all the lots.
It Feels Good to do Good!
Here's the image of the painting for closer inspection.
How has living in Indonesia and the UK influenced your art?
It’s expanded my sense of belonging beyond my origins. As the world becomes more homogenized, my artistic influence is defined by constantly refining my understanding of what it means to be Asian. I realize the importance of being flexible and open to thrive these days, especially in the speed of change of Singapore.
Tell us more about the inspiration behind your latest work?
This series started about a year ago. Led by some frustration about how expensive Singapore has become, I thought of channeling this frustration in a more productive way and analyzing the value and meaning of money through my illustrations.
What was the most challenging thing about your creative process?
As an artist and a designer, there’s often a clash in perspective between the rational of design, and the philosophical meaning of art. This tension can often be quite frustrating, but in a very good way.
What are the best and worst things about money?
The best thing about money is that it’s an excellent medium of exchange that gives me more time, more freedom and helps me make more art. The worst thing is that money is often confused with our worth as a person and produces emotions that create distance and separation.
What was you rationale behind the selection of the various fashion icons?
The fashion icons were chosen as a response to high-end fashion brands where the designers' names often precede their personhood. The portraits are meant to highlight the people behind the brands, who are often overlooked. I decided to choose designers who are quietly just doing excellent work, and whom I highly respect.
Lastly, how do you hope people respond to your artwork?
I’ve always thought that art should provoke our sense of curiosity, but it should also have the ability to educate and entertain us. I hope people will feel they’ve learnt something, and at the same time enjoy the tongue-in-cheek social commentary the series is making. I’d also love to know who people think might be worth portraying in the next series of banknotes.
See "Priceless" by Susan Olij until Sep 30 at Artistry Space. Free.
- See more at: http://is.asia-city.com/city-living/news/money-often-confused-our-worth-person-susan-olij-rants-about-dollars-and-cents#sthash.wbgL2KEG.dpuf
I thought I take this opportunity to elaborate the intention of this exhibition. While there's a lot of text already established and press releases sent out, there's a layer or two of background stories that just doesn't get said. While all the things written as the general premise of this body of illustration work has been said, I would like to elaborate all that enfolding process from the seed of the idea to it's served outcome you seen in the exhibition. So if you are curious, this will help give the exhibition more in depth context and background.
The obvious statement firstly is that my background and training in Fashion Design has never left me entirely, despite the fact that I've more or less established myself as an artist. The need to return to some form of 'fashion' in it's most casually used term is always something inevitable in my mind. The second statement is perhaps only obvious if you are currently my student, or have been in some type of class with me at the front talking passionately about Fashion Illustration. Fashion Illustration is an area of interest that I've always been interested in ever since I was about 7 years old. A fashion illustrator was what I would have liked to be when I grow up. Instead I took the route of the practical and studied Fashion Design, and Fashion Buying and Merchandising. I did the later for 10 years between New York and Singapore, and had enough in 2006. Eight years later, I am finally able to return in a small way or a big way, depending on your perspective, to producing something 'Fashion' focused.
The cotton jersey Kaftan you see in the exhibition, is the first piece of wearable work I produced since I left the business of fashion. That piece is a small homage to Gabriel Chanel for introducing cotton jersey to the world in the 1920's. It's a prototype or first trial of a clothing line I'd like to produce eventually. The direction of the Kaftan line is menacingly unclear because I wanted was to reproduce the illustration to something one can wear, something I can wear. The silhouette appeared quite regal despite the casual fabric. At the same time it's a humorous piece, who could take you seriously when you wear a bank note on your back? The silhouette is androgynous and gender-free.
The bank notes design idea first came from a frustration about money, and progressively, it turned a lot more complex then that. The questions I ask myself while producing them in the context of fashion is obvious at first, such as what is money in the context of art, and what is fashion in the context of art. Here are how I re-define those terms:
Money is a medium of exchange, of value and a medium that perpetuate capitalism and exploitation. The bank note has in some ways lost its inherent meaning of the past, which is as a promise to fulfil an agreement of exchange. According to some holistic practitioner such as Dr Maria Nemeth and Bruce Lipton, Money is Energy.
To me, Art is something that provoke our sense of curiosity, with the ability to educate and entertain a larger segment of people and Fashion is a tool to enhance an individual’s sense of self; that also endows the user or wearer with a particular emotion
Make good art says Neil Gaiman, Make a lot of art says Ira Glass, all words that resonates now when the school semester is out and I am shifting my focus on my art practice, part of it is leaning towards the uncomfortable and challenging my fears and focusing on wholly showing up. Gratitude and trust goes well together when I can interrupt the unconscious patterns of thought causing constrictions. The book I used to refer to a lot is the aptly called Art and Fear by Ted Orland and David Bayles says the fear artist have is not about making good art but having the expectation of having made good art that seems to become pressure without a base.
Drawing is a spiritual practice.
- Brings you to a space where you cannot be in the past nor in the future. It keeps you in the present.
- When fully engaged, the self-conscious self disappeared and the artist unfolds his or her truth.
- Allowing mistakes, adjusting, adding, teaches a healthy aesthetic attitude. An aesthetic attitude is the place where the artist engages with his/her expression, a healthy aesthetic attitude is the absence of fear and trusting the process of production. Often this production is not comfortable, frustrating even and it is just part of the artistic process.
- Stepping into blank canvas or paper with assured confidence that whatever expression comes out is your doing and that it is a good doing.
All art making is a good doing, not necessarily a good outcome or a good result. But it is key to understand that artists keeps doing and all doing is good for the artist.
- Approaching results with grace, with acceptance and with a sense of trust that wherever you are, you don’t stop doing.
- Being comfortable in uncertainty about each decisions, such as strokes and lines is the path towards good art.
Resources: john Ruskin on Drawing
Drawing as a spiritual practice is centering the mind on the deep unwavering level of the self by the act of repetition, observation, coordination are all visual meditation.
A visual meditation prolongs the attention on a single observation and takes you out of the rudimentary noise that tends to overwhelm us in every moment. This promotes the pendulum swing of our mind to swing closer towards the center, a center that is often referred to by meditators and spiritual seekers as the center of the universe.
IMPORTANT – GET CLEAR
Work out what’s important to you. This will help a lot in figuring out plans to move towards it. If you’re vague about what’s important to you, your experience will be vague too. The clearer you can be about what’s important to you, the better and clearer your experience will be, and that means you can fully be IN the experience, without any questions and worry that you might not be in the right place.
So how does one work out what’s important? Some therapist will go through the core belief cards with you, to figure out your 5 top needs. Some self-help books will teach you how to find your core desire belief (Daniel LaPorte’s Desire Map is a very good example). If you are to do this by yourself, here’s a way I started it. It might help you.
1. Feeling your body.
2. Slowing down your movement for one hour a day.
Not quite but very similar to the effect of meditation, this is a technique that can be assisted with some ‘minimal sound of music’. Example: AIR or Brian Eno’s Music for Airports)
Start the timer for 60 minutes, and whatever you are doing, slow the speed down to as slow as possible without changing anything. If you are writing, write slower, if you are typing or being on facebook, just do it slower, if you are drawing, cooking, reading, just slow it all down. Be aware more of every word, every movement, every piece of carrot you slice….etc)
Observe your breath as you do this.
3. Sit quietly with a pen and paper
Count down from 5 to 1, then start feeling the subtle differences in your mind.
Jot down thoughts that come.
Have fun with it.
The blog explores, questions and ponders on ideas, thoughts and life.