Thursday, March 9, 2017

Escape to Hong Kong (with Oils)

So after a couple of exciting projects that I kick started 2017 with, it was time to take a short breather before continuing on. I packed my bags and left for Hong Kong to meet my old schoolmates and some new friends from Urban Sketchers Hong Kong.  The cool Spring weather was perfect for painting. Not to mention the good food the have there! Here are some of the highlights:

I seldom post pictures of me painting, but Alison from USKHK, 
took some shots of me working on the streets. Thank you!

I started this one at 12 noon. This, I would never do in Singapore. :)
Hong Kong is filled with street signages and I'm happy to be able to capture a pawnshop sign 
at the Sham Shui Po area.

Thank you USKHK for being warm and friendly, and also for sharing the streets with me.

I ventured to the Aberdeen side of Hong Kong Island. A lot of water on this part of town.

Still at Aberdeen, but later in the evening. What got my attention were the pinks
and that this butcher was right next to the street.

Not often do I get to hangout in high places. So here's chancing the opportunity to paint.

Here's a short doc of my time in Aberdeen, enjoy! 

See my Ink and Watercolour sketches from Hong Kong:

For more videos of me painting, go here:

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Escape to Hong Kong (with INKS)

The first 2 months of 2017 kept me extremely busy. There were the series of vessels to paint for a shipping company, a private wall mural, 2 lion statues and of course the next book I'm working on.  I needed a breather, and also had to catch up with some old friends. And so I packed my bags, painting equipment & an empty stomach and left for Hong Kong. Here are some of the highlights:

After the plane landed, and after checking in, I headed straight to this Noodle House 
called Cart Noodle Expert on 104 Jervois Street. 

Last year (2016), I remembered sketching a butcher right here on Gage Street down by Central. Now, it's gone. 
Just a sketch left to remind me of the place. And this is one of the reason why I sketch.

Hello Toy Story Land! 

OK, so I fell for it. Right after the new Iron Man ride (that was made from the former Star Tours ride), 
I had to eat this at the restaurant. 

This curry fishball stall just outside Sham Shui Po MTR station seems to be very popular! 

Many buildings like this is up for redevelopment in the Sham Shui Po area.
So that makes it a fantastic location to sketch.

Met some of the wonderful people from USK Hong Kong. 
I had plenty of great tips of where to paint from them.

Sketchbook Exchange with Alison Hui. She spent several months in South America doodling.
If you are interested in my book, Ciao Firenze!, it can be found here: 

I love the food so much, I had it for lunch and dinner... on the same day!! 
Maxim's MX 美心

See my Oil sketches from Hong Kong:

For more videos of me painting, go here:

Monday, March 6, 2017

How to make a simple 360 panorama image on FB

I posted a 360 degree sketch of my sketches from Cafe Asia 2017 on my Facebook art page last week (click here to view 360 image), and got some requests to share how it was done. This is what you do if you want the quick and dirty method, without all the backend programming involved.

What you will need to create one of these:
A) Photoshop,
B) a really long sketch (I stitched seven A4 sketches),
and C) Download the template by clicking this.

1. Open your panoramic sketch on a jpeg file.

2. Open the above mentioned link "360template.jpg".

3. Place your panoramic sketch in the 360template.jpg file.

4. Make sure it's centred, then flatten the file. 

5.  Hit "Save" (not "Save As").

6. Drop image in Facebook and it will automatically detect that the file is a 360 pano image.


Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Strada Easel 31-day Challenge Jan 2017

I just completed a 31-day challenge in the month of January organised by Strada - an easel company. The idea of the challenge is to post a painting from life every single day and hashtag the word stradaeasel on every post. I also added day 1, day 2, day 3... to help both organisers and viewers follow and track each day's upload.

A bit about the last 31 days.  Some days were real tough. I had to balance a full day's worth of work load and that extra bit for the challenge. The last few days which coincided with the Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations were the most trying. It is a time where all businesses cease to operate. It is also important to visit and spend time with family and close friends, and along with the regular day-to-day work that I do, sleep had to suffer. But a challenge is a challenge, and that's why it's called a challenge. :)

Here on this post, I present the paintings' time lapses. Except for the days I did live figure and portraits in a shared and very tight space. 

Thank you Strada for organising this challenge. Thank you for all of you from the bottom of my heart who followed my 31-day challenge daily and made comments, it did cheer me on.  :D  Do share which one/s are your favourite/s too. 

Day 1 - Balinese Door 

Day 2 - Paddy Field, Bali

Day 3 - Cold Brew still life

Day 4 - Chin Mee Chin

Day 5a - Figure Study, Day 5b - Foot study

Day 6 - Nonya Kueh 3

Day 7 - The Ice Cream Vendor

Day 8 - Koon Seng and Tumbling Corner

Day 9 - Maguro, Ikura and Amaebi

Day 10 - Dove Playground

Day 11 - Traditional Coffee and Eggs

Day 12 - Portrait of Salvin

Day 13 - The Flower Vendor

Day 14 - Reunion 2017

Day 15 - Teong Theng Co.

Day 16 - Portrait of Mr Tan

Day 17 - Al Falah Restaurant

Day 18 - Salak, Cinnamon & Star Anise

Day 19 - The One Price Shop

Day 20 - Tong Heng Egg Tart

Day 21 - Susan Ang Flowers

Day 22 - The Glades

Day 23 - Portrait of Mr Low

Day 24 - Prosperity Cake and the Year Cake

Day 25 - The Fishmonger

Day 26 - Portrait of Beby

Day 27 - The Lee Brothers

Day 28 - Mandarins and Hong Bao (Red Packet)

Day 29 - Year of the Rooster

Day 30 - Of Love Letters and Pineapple Tarts

Day 31 - Goodbye Rochor Centre

For the original day-to-day posts, see my uploads at my Instagram page or Facebook art page.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Balinese Retreat

I was in Bali at the end of 2016 to work on some projects. More news on them in due time. It was also an opportunity for me to reflect what I did in 2016 and what I was going to do for 2017.  I had a great time being away from skyscrapers and smart phones. :)  I was surrounded by turquoise seas, paddy fields, great food, and warm friendly faces. 

I kick off the end of the journey with a 31-day and into the new year with the #stradaeasel challenge. It's a challenge to get painters in the habit of painting from life daily for 31 days in the month of January. The story behind this is interesting.  While in Bali, my Soltek easel's tripod gave way. I couldn't prop it up anywhere unless I find a flat surface at hip level (like a table) to place it on. 

At the very last hours on New Year's Eve, a friend from L.A. told me about the Strada Challenge. It was just hours before the registration closed.  Having wifi at that moment, I entered myself to be a participant.  I will want to post throughout all 31 days and hopefully win myself a brand new easel to replace the former one that broke.  It's going to be tough with other painting projects and many other great painters from around the world.  So, here goes! 

You can follow my daily postings here: 


But for now, I leave you to the highlights of my trip. 
A Happy New 2017 to everyone! Thank you for following my posts online. 

Wake Up Juice in the mornings to greet me

Cabana at Alila Manggis

Ice Cappuccino from the Revolver Cafe

There were these ladies who were transporting rocks on their heads from one point 
of the beach to another, and were doing this to provide a secondary income for their families. 

Cappuccino with fresh coconut milk at the Sea Circus
(served in a coconut husk) 

Great December waves to cheer me on during my morning workout
(My easel tripod broke, so I have to prop it on a table to paint.)

Gateway to Petitegnet Beach

Paddy Field at Sardine #stradaeasel

Helpful staff assisting with my make shift easel stand while painting this traditional Balinese doorway

Inspired by the beautiful food I find in Bali, I create still lifes to help me remember.

I sum up this post with a video of my painting of Alila Manggis Beach. Notice the ladies carrying rocks 
who walk pass me halfway through the video. 

–  end  –

To contact Alvin for commissions or collaborations, email him at

Monday, December 5, 2016

Asia-link Sketchwalk 2016 - The Paintings

Last week, I had an amazing time in Bangkok with my sketch buddies. There were over 350 sketchers that attended the event so there were also so many new sketchers to meet. They come from 12 countries: China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, The Philippines, India, Singapore and the host country, Thailand. 

Kwin Krisadaphong, main organiser of festival and member of Bangkok Sketchers, reminded all of us that the event is not so much about sketching, but more the sketchers.  Indeed, I came to Bangkok with that in mind... 4 days earlier, so I can sketch before it's time to mingle with other artists.  During the time of the event, I observed other sketchers, discussed materials, found out what kind of food my friends like to eat, heard their travel stories, their art journey... network, network, network!
Definitely not enough for a 4 day event. 

The passing away of Bhumibol King Rama 9 was the main focus of the locals during my stay in Bangkok. Every local, out of respect for their father King, wore black or white. This gesture is extended to foreign visitors too, but not mandatory.  During the entire year of morning, people from all over Thailand come to Bangkok to pay their final respects to their former King. The area around the Grand Palace gets a little more congested than during other times and services like free hair cut, food and water are available for those visiting the Grand Palace. One can't help but feel the love the Thai people have for their late King. 

Here are my oil paintings during 23 Nov to Nov 28:
A section of Wat Thepthidaram

Tuk Tuk parked at Khao San Road 

Night eating of Wat Sunhat. The lights go off at 10:34pm.

El Chiringuito, near chinatown.  I love this place.

A section of the Grand Palace

A section of the Grand Palace

The last time I saw my Go Pro. :-(  But looking forward to new and exciting times!

I began this sketch and without a moment's notice, it started to pour.
Took me 5 minutes to pack and find shelter. 

Painting in the morning around the Mahakan Fort area

Golden Mount night sketch

 Demo on the last day of the event at C-Asean Center

 Q&A during the demo

Thank you, p Pratana Sangpongchawal for the photos! 

See my ink and watercolour sketches of Bangkok here: 

And finally, as always, I end with a video. Enjoy this timpelapse of 
one of my favourite pieces from the trip:

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Asia-link Sketchwalk 2016 - The sketches

The inaugural Asia-link Sketchwalk 2016 finally took place in Bangkok, Thailand, from 24 Nov to 28 Nov 2016. Over 350 sketchers representing 12 nations met and sketched to their hearts' content. For many, it was a trip to meet old friends. For others, it was an experience like none other - meeting like-minded people who love sketching.  Never have I seen such fired-up sketchers before: meeting at night to paint after a day's worth of sketching, doodling each other whenever possible, sketching during talks and presentations, drawing food before consuming it (i.e. eating cold food), etc... what nerds. ;-) 

I remembered joining Urban Sketches Singapore in March 2012. That nudged me to go down the path I walk today - being a full time artist.  It was great seeing old faces after a 3 and a half year hiatus from the asian urban sketching scene. For those who do not know where I went, I left for Italy in April 2013 to study Traditional Art, specifically Natural Realism.  I am glad to be back in vibrant and bustling, yet warm and serene Asia. And I was absolutely glad to be a part of this historical event. May the sketchers forge true, deep and lasting relationships for many, many years to come. Not just on an event level, but on a much grander Asian perspective. Looking forward to doing many more things, unheard and unthought of between the 12 countries. 

Here are some of the highlights of my trip: 

Sketching commuters at Changi Airport Terminal 2, Singapore
Have I mentioned I love sketching crowds? 

Enjoying a cuppa on board Scoot's Dreamliner. 2 hours 10 mins to Bangkok only. 

Phad Thai at Thipsamai - a local favourite haunt.
Try their popular Phad Thai wrapped in an egg. They open from 5pm - 2am.
Queues get really long around 7pm to 9pm on weekdays. Forget about
going there on the weekends. :)
See time-lapse here:

Nestled in busy Bangkok is Vanilla Garden in the Ekamai area. It's a good  place to get away 
from the noise for a while. I'm at the Vanilla Bakeshop (next-door) for a cappuccino. 

Demi Concept is a food truck serving fabulous soft ice cream. They are parked right outside
Platinum Shopping Mall with other food trucks. I tried the green mocha and charcoal twist.
All ingredients are from Japan. 

El Chiringuito. I found this lovely shophouse in the chinatown area turned into an Air B&B with a bar.  
It looked so pretty online I had to go see it with my own eyes and paint it.

Kope Hya Tai Ke (โกปี๊เฮี๊ยะไถ่กี่) is a historical coffee shop right in front of Bangkok's Cityhall.  

Once Again Hostel is right around the cultural Bangkok area. If you love to experience art and culture more than shopping, this is a great location (for artists, photographers, writers, etc) to stay in as it's walking distance to most of the heritage sites. This is the cafe called Holiday, managed by Cafe Velodrome in Once Again. 

Mont Nom Sod is a milk and toast cafe. I stumbled upon the original store
near where I live. I had a custard egg and pandan spread toast. Their ingredients
are free of preservatives and they only buy from suppliers they trust.  

Here's a sketch while having local drip coffee at El Chiringuito: 

See my paintings of Bangkok here: 

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