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Phuket: A sketch in time

PHUKET: “A picture is worth a thousand words.” For me, this statement always rings true.

By Anthika Muangrod

Friday 21 February 2014, 09:58AM

One painting can describe itself without long descriptive texts, drawing the viewer’s emotion without uttering a word. Drawing is not only reserved for an artist. Drawing is fun. Drawing is thinking. Drawing makes you interesting. And all you need to start are a piece of paper and a pencil.

The Sketchwalk Workshop was recently held by The Attitude Club in collaboration with Saturdays Condominium, Phuket Thai Hua Museum, Phuket City Municipality and Urban Sketcher Phuket group. It is a part of the Phuket Old Town Impression Sketchwalk exhibition 2014, which is being held until February 28 at the Phuket Thai Hua Museum on Krabi Road in the heart of historic Phuket Town.

Three international artists from Penang, Malaysia were invited to the exhibition, along with more than 20 well-known artists from Bangkok and Phuket. The artists were asked to go around Phuket’s Old Town to paint pictures that would then go on display. The resulting works included scenes such as the old Chinese temples, the unique Sino-Colonial architecture, the many food stalls, and so on.

“This project is part of the Phuket Old Town 2014 Festival,” said Kawee Tansukatanon, deputy mayor of Phuket. “We contacted the Urban Sketcher Phuket group to help us pass on knowledge, feelings and emotions about Phuket’s old-style buildings and the town’s lifestyle, both in the past and present.”

According to CEO of The Attitude Club, Weerachai Panwerapaiboon, “The main point of this sketching activity was to push Phuket to have more art activities. We are in a town that has culture but we lack arts. I want to be the one who starts this activity, so that other people can continue this in the future.”

“Sketching is simple and easy to do, and you don’t need to prepare a lot of things. You can do it anywhere and at any time you want,” he added, “If you try to do a serious artwork like what we see in an artist’s studio, that is like something else because it’s all about skill. However, sketching doesn’t necessarily require a lot of foundation or skill, you just have to like it, you have to have that passion.”

A large group of locals attended the morning activity, with the artists teaching how to sketch a picture. After the lecture, everybody was invited to paint and learn from artists’ painting demonstrations.

“Inspiration is a good thing but art is not all about inspiration,” said Koay Shao Peng, one of the visiting Malaysian artists from Penang. “To me, the most important thing is skill and technique because people need foundations [on which] to build their inspiration.”

Koay suggests watercolour as the best way for beginners to start learning. He says that the technique is very convenient as the paint dries fast, while the equipment – brushes, paper – are easy to carry around.

The artist, who has more than 5,000 paintings in his home, then introduced the idea of colour theory. As he explains, the human eye can see at least 7 million colours, which affect our feelings and sensibility.

Because a picture must have a feeling,” explains Koay, “One should learn about the atmosphere of the whole picture. Many people like to use too many colours in a painting. But you should understand how to use them or else it will mess up everything. You can notice that most artists use few colours.”

Laguna Golf Phuket

Also at the Sketchwalk Workshop was Koay’s fellow Penang-based artist Ch’ng Kiah Kiean, who was surrounded by a sea of people before I managed to catch his attention for quick chat about his art.

Ch’ng, a trained architect who also goes by the nickname KK, uses self-made sharpened sticks from trees and bamboo branches, which he dips in ink. He is known for his sketches of heritage buildings.

I think urban sketching is something really fun to do,” says KK, “As we are all connected in this world. Last year I was invited to Barcelona to do a demonstration like this and I made a lot of friends.”

The last Malaysian artist I spoke with was Khoo Cheang Jin, the leader of the visiting group from Penang. He explained to me that drawing can be easy for everybody, but you just have to practice.

You have to start doing something. Begin from a simple idea, then get a pencil and paper and draw something. Even while you’re waiting for your lunch to come, you can start drawing a picture.”

Khoo revealed that the three artists from Penang would be donating their finished paintings to the Phuket Thai Hua Museum before they left.

I will donate the piece based on two reasons: We were invited to take part in this special event so I feel that our art is appreciated. But most importantly, after I visited the museum I was so touched by the history of the Chinese in Phuket and about how difficult it is to provide Chinese education locally.

I salute the ancestors of Phuket Chinese for their determination. That's why I decided to donate my painting of the [Thai Hua] museum to them. The other two artists from Penang, KK and Shao Peng, also donated their [museum] paintings,” said Khoo with appreciation.

The global Urban Sketcher network consists of people who love drawing living in 30 cities around the world. In Thailand, this list includes Bangkok and Phuket. The local group – search Facebook for ‘Urban Sketcher Phuket’ – plan to meet every weekend in the Old Town to sketch and share ideas.

Writing this story did raise one quandary for me though. If one picture is worth a thousand words, perhaps I should have drawn something instead of writing this?

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