Monday, 4 January 2016

The Waiting Game

14" by 18"
Oil on canvas

It's 2016! To start off the new year, here's a painting that I completed a while back. One of the larger works I've done, it shows a Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea) by the edge of a reservoir, waiting motionlessly for its prey while the day warms up around it. The heron has an unbreakable patience and focus; it's survival depends on it. When it hunts, everything balances on a single moment, an opportunity to strike. While the heron plays the waiting game, the sky is restless, with clouds stretching, curling and vanishing. A hunting heron will not and must not look around at the scenery that is full of life - but a full heron may.

I took around one-and-a-half months to finish this one. To get a better idea on how to create the landscape, I visited some of the wetlands in the North of Singapore, which helped show me what types of plants to paint too. Anyway, there it is. Hope you like it!

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Butterfly Colours - Brown

One of my favourite colours, browns are some of the oldest colours in art, with umbers and siennas (clay pigments that derive their shades from iron oxide) being the amongst the first pigments that humans have used. Brown is also very common in butterflies, providing camoflage against predators. Some butterflies from the families Lycaenidae (the Blues) and Satyrnidae (the Browns, Arguses and Morphos) have beautiful variations of brown on their undersides and blues, purples or greens on their uppersides, which are concealed when the insect folds its wings upright. The colour of earth, bark and skin, brown is perhaps the true colour of nature, even though the brighter and somehow more charismatic green has been universally associated with it. Brown has also been tied to humility - perhaps one reason it was the party colour of the Nazi Party, which targeted the middle and working classes

(Left to Right, top to Bottom)

Common Disc Oakblue (Arhopala epimuta)
Dark Brand Bush Brown (Mycalesis mineus)
The Knight (Lebadea martha parkeri)
The Plane (Bindahara phocides)
King Crow (Euploea phaenareta)
The Saturn (Zeuxidia amethystus)
Bamboo Tree Brown (Lethe europa)
Chocolate Sailor (Neptis harita)
Starry Bob (Iambrix stellifer)

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Mr Lee Kuan Yew (1923 - 2015)

Singapore's founding father, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, passed away on Monday, 23rd of March. To many Singaporeans, including my parents, he WAS Singapore. His immense vision and determination made Singapore what it is today. It was a sombre week but as the nation mourned, I felt helplessly detached.

I grew up in the Singapore that was the result of Mr Lee's leadership and I've only lived fifteen years in this country - half of which I remember little of. The reality is that I can never feel the same about Mr Lee's passing as my parents or any other adult Singaporeans. I just don't have that same emotional connection. My journey as a Singaporean has been blissful; maybe even ignorant.

For many of us teenagers, our connection with Mr Lee is about gratitude; being thankful for all the privileges we enjoy today, the beautiful country carved out for us and the bright future ahead of us. It's unfortunate that the next generation may only see Mr Lee as a figure in history; a man who exists only in textbooks. 

But it shouldn't be that way. I feel that it is my duty - and every young Singaporean's - to get closer to him. I have heard and read so many stories about him this week and I think it's the least anyone can do. It is our job to live the values Singapore was founded on and fight for a better future so that Mr Lee Kuan Yew's spirit and legacy will live forever.

And if that's what it means to be Singaporean, then I couldn't be more proud.

Goodbye, Mr Lee.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

A Rediscovery and The Prime Minister - UBIN DAY

Pulau Ubin: An offshore island from Singapore and our last kampung. It's Singapore before all the tall buildings went up - natural, wild and rustic. Last Sunday, we had a celebration of all things Ubin - organised by the amazing Grant Pereira and Ria Tan, Ubin Day 2014 saw a huge range of activities to bring the public closer to the heritage and biodiversity of the little island. Here's something you don't often see on your way to Ubin, a traffic jam!

ButterflyCircle was there to show some registered participants around Butterfly Hill and to teach them about butterflies. I was attached to a really wonderful group of students and their enthusiastic teacher, who were there to learn more in order to set up a butterfly garden. We saw some pretty cool things: a Mottled Emigrant came to lay eggs just in front of us, we found a number of uncommon butterflies and I got them to get right up close with the butterflies that were willing. One of the rarer species around was this form-agenor female of the Great Mormon.

This stunning giant was laying eggs on the pomelo bush and caught everyone's attention. The great mormon is polymorphic, so the female occurs in many greatly differing forms, some of which have not been seen in years. Better still, my group got to see something extremely special - a rediscovery! A strikingly patterned butterfly was flitting incessantly around a tree trunk and I knew straight away that we had something new. And it was - a rediscovery for Singapore, the Malayan Nawab (polyura moori)! It has been suspected to still be extant here and now we have the proof. 

The excitement, however, didn't stop there. We were extremely honoured to have a different kind of visitor to the hill, The Prime Minister of Singapore. He - along with his troop of bodyguards, cameramen and the press - came to find out more about the hill and it's fluttering inhabitants. We took him around on a little tour and shared our knowledge of butterflies with him. What struck me was how willing he was to talk to us and hear our thoughts. Here's me sharing some of the places I love to go for butterflies.

Photo by Mr Loke PF

He was also incredibly friendly and down to earth so after having a short discussion about butterflies, we just had to take some pictures with him. Yes, by pictures, I mean we-fies. It's not everyday that you get to do this! There I am, beaming from the back. As you can see, height is something I don't have very much of...

Photo by Lemon TYK, whose in front

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong also announced at the opening of the event, several plans for Ubin which were mostly about preserving the rustic charm of Ubin and enhancing it. I think it is great that the government is getting involved in the conservation of natural places like Ubin. Hopefully, with events like Ubin Day, more people will understand and respect nature and maybe even get down to help in the race to conserve. I had an amazing time on Ubin Day, all thanks to Mr Khew for inviting me and of course, Mr Grant and Ria for their inexhaustible passion and energy. Here's to the wilderness!