If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you’ll know that I’m obsessed with Miranda Kerr. I always draw her, but I can never get her face right. For example, these two older drawings.
When I started painting again this year, I didn’t think much about the quality of my paints. All that mattered was the color: which ones yielded the brightest colors, which ones gave the prettiest pinks and purples, which ones had the bluest blues. Everything was going well until some of my works started fading. It hasn’t been a problem for me when I was a student, since I didn’t keep my works long enough to see how they changed; but now that I’m selling pieces, I’ve become more concerned with how my paints hold up in the long run. So I did a little reading to find why my paintings were fading, and found that exposure to sunlight played a big part. To avoid fading, paintings had to be kept away from direct sunlight, and make sure that the paints are lightfast. Continue reading
I remember the exact moment when I started to draw a face that wasn’t two dots and an arc inside an egg shape. I was in third grade, and was obsessing over Sailor Moon for some time. It was also that time when school has not quite ended, but was about to; everyone was just killing time until March ended. Out of boredom, I decided to sketch Chibiusa, the little cotton candy haired one, from a playing card that I had in my stash. I did it in pencil and blue ink in a half pad lined in blue and red. I spent a good hour or so copying her bug eyes, arc brows, the teensy mouth, and the little c’s and opposite c’s that were her bangs. The finished product wasn’t anything breath taking, but it was important to me. That was my first portrait (although a friend pointed out that it wasn’t, technically, on the account that Chibiusa was a cartoon character. Thanks, supportive friend :-l).
From 9 to 12, I’ve drawn many faces, mostly anime (like many kids from my generation did), and I guess that’s how I developed a fascination with faces. I can look at faces all day long. Thick brows on slanted eyes, wide noses, and lips the shape of leaves. They don’t have to be attractive, but I like them better when they’re unique. For a time, during my high school and early college years I’d go thrift shopping for old magazine issues, and I’d choose the ones had a lot of head shots.
Ironically, I stopped drawing faces when I took a course that required me to draw every waking minute of my life. During those times, I substituted drawing faces with drawing on faces. In hindsight, I think I got into makeup because I loved faces.
A few weeks ago, I started drawing faces again, after ten or so years of hibernation. I haven’t kept any of my old sketches, so now I’m keeping all the new ones that I’m doing, both good and bad, including studies. I’m also planning to render in watercolor, which is new territory for me. I’ve rendered a face in watercolor just once in my life (a school requirement), for good reason. The finished product of that little adventure looked like the lady was made of jello (which can be good or bad depending on how you lool at it) Pencil, ink, and colored pencil have always been my mediums, and I’m not quite sure if I can do watercolor. But i’ve already bought all my painting stuff, so I’d be forced to do it some time. Just wish me luck on it.
The KL City Gallery is housed in a Moorish style building beside Merdeka Square. The Gallery is run by Arch, a company dedicated to preserving the cultural heritage of Malaysia. What’s there to see in the KL City Gallery, you ask? Well, you see the whole of Kuala Lumpur (in about 1:1000 scale)! I’ll just let the pictures do the talking.
Looking at the models, I did feel that we missed so much of what the city had to offer. Nevertheless, the Gallery was a fitting end to our day tour of the City.
The KL City Gallery is open everyday, 9:00 in the morning to 6:30 in the evening. Admission is free. 🙂
Things I wish I thought of before I went on a day tour of KL:
1. You have to make reservations to get up the Petronas Towers
The tickets were already sold out when we got there so we decided to go to the Menara Tower instead, which brings us to number 2:
2. Things are much farther than they appear.
Where I grew up, we define “walking distance” as anything within your line of sight (or anything within the assumed range of where your lips point). When we saw the Menara from the Petronas, we thought “Meh, let’s just walk. Can’t be that far, right?” Besides, our map tells us that it’s only a few blocks away. WRONG, because number 3 is
3. Maps lie.
House was right. Everybody lies. Even our map lied to us. The few blocks between Petronas and Menara were actually a crisscross of roads that they omitted from the map. On the positive side, the walk wasn’t so immediately draining. Most streets were lined with trees and I don’t recall going over footbridges to get across the street. On the down side, my feet took a terrible beating all because I didn’t think of number 4:
4. Crocs are not walking shoes.
Neither are flip-flops. Fitflops are still flip-flops, so no. I should’ve worn a decent pair of walking shoes because we did’t know number 5
5. Menara is on top of a hill.
Menara is used as a television and radio broadcasting tower. It is therefore strategically located on top of a little bump in the KL terrain. It also houses a cafe, a viewing deck, and other attractions. After pulling ourselves up the hill and refilling our tanks at the concessionaire in the ground floor, my friends and I went up to the viewing deck to get a look at the city.
No matter how much ranting I do about that walk, I’d still say that it was worth it. Any walk, even the most pointless walk around a city is always worth more the throbbing and the blisters and the callouses (my, what a flattering picture of my feet i’m painting). Now despite all that I’ve just said, we took a cab to our next destination, but the walking wasn’t over yet.
“How long will you be staying?” the airport official asked as he looked up from my passport. “One day,” I replied. He scoffed, looked at me again, brows up high like twin hills crowning his round eyes, “One day? Are you sure that’s enough?”
“I don’t know,” I told him with a smile, “You tell me.”
In my mind, I thought that one day was enough. It was just a city tour, after all. A side trip on our way to Singapore. I was just there for the Petronas.
The first order of the day was a hike up to Batu Caves, which was a scenic 30 minute train ride from the city. That Batu Caves is a sacred Hindu site does not have to be stated. You’ll know that with one look at the numerous gods and shrines peppering the site, one of which is the largest statue of the Hindu god Murugan. He stands guard before the caves, tall and golden. He is impressive. Majestic. I can see up his nose.
Joining the statues and temples lining the promenade are tattoo parlors, fruit stalls (not much for eating, but for offering), fortune tellers and trinket sellers. The day that we went there, someone had just gotten married and the wedding party was holding a feast nearby. Women in their best saris walked around with their little girls in a colourful flurry of purple, yellow, and orange silk. The men were seated in a makeshift banquet in the parking lot, talking amongst themselves. Tourists were crowded around the statues taking selfies and flashing peace signs at any camera within a 10 meter radius.
The cave themselves were more than 200 steps above us. A slew of monkeys begging to be fed scampered along as we climbed the steps. Some looked at us longingly with sad eyes, mostly from a distance. A handful of them ran up to us and swiped the bottles that we were carrying.
Halfway through the steps, I found myself trudging. I took pictures of monkeys as an excuse to stop. Every once in a while I looked back down at what we’ve climbed so far, only to be met with temporary vertigo. Once we got to the top, we were rewarded with a view of the plaza below (and lord Murugan’s regal behind).
One of the caves is spacious and airy, filled with sunlight and several more shrines and steps. Another adjacent cave is dark and filled with wildlife, and comes with a fee. We chose the free option. The view inside is not exactly as breathtaking as the one below, but the cave gave us a much needed breather after the 200 or so steps.
After a short survey of the interiors, we walked back down to the station. Haruman stood by the exit, as if asking me “Leaving so soon?” What do you mean, soon? I spent all morning In Batu Caves!
There’s a saying that what you do on your birthday will determine what you’ll be doing for the rest of the year. Spend your birthday partying and you’ll be partying for the rest of the year. On the day we set out to tour Kuala Lumpur, nobody in our group was celebrating her birthday, and yet all the walking and climbing up Batu Caves seemed to map out the rest of our day’s journey. All that walk that morning was just a prequel of what was about to come.