Thursday, December 3, 2015

Making a Cola Pen

I went for a workshop conducted by Urban Sketcher Ignatius Yeo yesterday. He taught the art of making and using a cola pen. The cola pen or pop-can pen has been around for ages. Most users are calligraphers who make beautiful typography with it. Google it and you will find countless of artists' work online. If you are a sketcher and are interested in a new tool, you might have found yourself a new toy to make and use! Only time will tell if this new tool can be integrated into my repertoire.

A short clip of how the cola pen is applied on paper.

Here are the list of items you need to make these cola pen:

Sand down one side of the aluminium sheet. This creates a 'grip' and allows better ink flow.

Fold the aluminium sheet in half and flatten it with the mallet. 
Place a credit card in between the fold to create a gap. 

Cut the aluminium sheet using the template. 

Remember also to sand down the sharp edges. 

Cut a little strip at the bottom point of the pen head. 
This will allow a neat alignment to the ice creme stick. 

 Finally, it's all coming together.

Secure the head to the body.

Get some Chinese ink going and have fun! 

If you are interested to know about this pen or attend a workshop making and using it, contact Ignatius at

Friday, November 20, 2015

Natural Realism - Part 2

Alvin Mark Tan hauled back a collection of over 50 pieces from his studio in Florence, Italy, to open Natural Realism Part 2 on 13th November in Singapore.  The exhibition documents both his  training at the Angel Academy of Art and also his personal work.

The show runs until the 26th Nov 2015 at That Spare Room. Click here for more information:

 Alvin with his bag of tricks

 Alvin makes it a point to meet every single one who visits his show

 On display is Spring Picnic, Oil on Canvas

Out fresh rom the oven is Alvin's latest sketch book – Figuring Out!

Here's a video filmed on one of the evenings at the show: 

Friday, November 6, 2015

Prep for Natural Realism Part 2

It's been an incredible journey. Two and a half years in the making... and painting. My show Natural Realism (Part 2) opens in a week here in Singapore!

The exhibition gives visitors a chance to see the entire basic training process of a typical art school in Florence, Italy.  This process is based on the what French academies in the mid 19th century in Paris taught.  Of course all the schools in Florence today have their own variation of the programme, but all of them have one goal in mind - to revive the beauty and calibre of 19th century art in Europe.

The logistics for the show began as early as the middle of Summer 2015.  Event listing platforms were looked up, the media (newspapers and magazines) was informed, and most importantly, the location of the show was secured. Days like these, you wonder if all this was possible without the internet especially when you have to communicate across 10,000km! How did the old masters do it?

During the last 3 weeks, I spent a lot of my time in Florence during 2 things: 1) Going to the framers and 2) marketing the show.  E-flyers for blasting out in the various social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc) were executed simultaneously to tell of this journey. Timing is key. And you also don't want to be uploading either too much or too little information.

Landi Cornici was where I got more of my framing done. I've tried others, but did not get the same efficiency, attention and integrity.  And it's only a minute ride away from my place. :)

Once I decided which framed pieces were going to be shipped, I contacted GALLI IMBALLAGGI E TRASPORTI. They were much quicker in handling the administrative side of things and the cost was nearly half of the common shippers everyone in the city uses.  ;)

I arrived Singapore 4 days ago, and I've been marketing the show non-stop and meeting people who know people who know people... .  My point here is that marketing should consume more, much more than your time spent making the art - at least 90%.  Most artist friends I have spoken to tell me they only spend less than 10% of their time telling people about their work.  For me, I so focused on getting the right crowd to my show that I've only done a couple of sketches in between meals, that about it.  And if you know me, I usually sketch heaps. :)

And not forgetting my friends... the ones who keep me laughing and sane during this super intense period. Well, tomorrow is another day.  Do continue to follow the updates for the coming show.

Facebook Official Page

In case you're interested...

Via Mannelli, 135, 50136 Firenze, Italy
+39 055 234 7036

Via maso di banco, 38, 50143 FIRENZE
TELEFAX: (+39) 055 7130105

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Trying to make an Impression

I spent 2 weeks at the end of summer by taking a Portrait workshop at the Russian Academy of Art in Florence. This school has nothing to do with the renowned Repin Academy in St Petersburg, but most of the instructors there were trained there. The works are are impressionistic, yet the forms are solid like a rock.  And we work only using natural light. Of course, one cannot be a master after just workshopping for 2 weeks. But what it did was to give me insight to how the Russians think and why they do what they do with regards to Art. Here are some highlights from the workshop. 

Portraiture in an academic setting begins with a thumbnail sketch on the top right hand corner, followed by a silhouette drawing of the sitter. Once all the basic shapes are put in, perspective lines are added to keep everything in place.  

And the colours from left are: Ultramarine Blue, Emerald Green, Alizarin Crimson, English Red (Light Red), Burnt Siena, Raw Siena, Yellow Ochre Light and white. Additional colours can include Transparent Red Oxide (mixed with Emerald green) for the drawing stage, Burnt Umber, Periwinkle and Royal Blue.

This is as far as I go with this piece. 
Under natural lighting indoors, the lights are cool and the shadows warm. 

Alongside with the painting in the mornings, we work on a cast drawing in the afternoon. 
Everyday, form and anatomy is drilled into my system. 

A quick sketch of my classmates while the instructor Svetlana does a demo. 

- fin - 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

We Are Not Amused (part 2)

This is George, the handsome British Short fur I spent some time with.
It was a bit tricky painting him. You'll see why, here's a video of the portrait session.

By London's standards, this was a great day to paint Big Ben from South Bank.

This is the probably most dangerous street I passed by - Abbey Road right off Abbey Studios. 
The tourists there just want to get that Beatles Zebra Crossing pose!

Opposite the National Portrait Gallery at Pret A Manger sketching while it's drizzling outside. 
On now is the BP 2015 Awards Show.

I got another private session at The National Gallery. This time, I'm in room 23 with Rembrandt. 

 See me sketch live at Trafalgar Square! :)

If I'm not in the tube sketching, I'll be on the double decker buses catching the sights.

Picked up my new cards at Box Park in Shoreditch.
If you would like to have these and happen to be in Singapore.
Here's a link to a group show that I'm currently in to pick them up.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

We Are Not Amused (part 1)

I spent 2 weeks of summer in the United Kingdom. My primary task there was to cat sit a friend's feline.  But in between feeding George, cleaning his poop and giving him some love, I get to explore London! Here are the highlights from the short getaway I did. 

Police on patrol at Camden Lock

Strolling down the enchanting pathway along the canal around the Camden Lock area.

Spent the morning at Parliament Square painting this. I'm definitely enjoying all this space in the city. 

Yes, the weather has its moments. When it rains, everyone rushes into a museum. :) 
This one is the Natural History Museum. Many of the big museums are free to enter. That is indeed amazing!! 

This sketch is from the main entrance of the Natural History Museum. Did you know that the stegosaur is a vegetarian? 

Dropped by the Kenwood House at Hampstead Heath. My former schoolmate (a local Londoner) and I were surprised to see so many good painting on display here. Check out the cost of Gainsborough's works in the late 1800's. Yup! In sterling pounds.

I went to the London Zoo. Tip: Purchase the ticket online, it's cheaper that way. This is inside the butterfly "garden". While photographing them, a few settled comfortably on me. Here's one of them. 

This was my first sketch at the zoo

I'm glad there are so many Indian eat-outs. I had it almost everyday. Even when buying groceries, it was my first choice. The Southern Indian restaurant above is Saravanaa Bhavan at Ilford. I met a schoolmate's family there. 

To see more sketches, go here:

Sunday, September 6, 2015

It's finally live!! My official art website is online! If you have not seen it, click here to view it:

For those of you who want a behind the scenes of what to expect on the site, 
I will give a breakdown of the navigation on this blog post.  

This is the HOME page. You can arrive on this landing page from many sources like a QR code or a link from the internet. You will be introduced to my logo right at the top where the texture will change from time to time.  The animated gif, too, that takes centre stage will be replaced with new images every now and then.  This home page will evolve eventually, I may insert important news bites or things like a running ticker at the bottom. So keep checking.  And of course I have the navigation part. The other 5 categories are ABOUT, GALLERY, SHOP, BLOG [you're looking at it now :) ] and CONNECT. 

This page tells you about my journey from Graphic Design to Painter and all the juicy bits in between.  This could also double up as a Media Kit and resume.  Some photos are also added to show snippets of my journey.  

This page is why this website was built in the first place - to showcase my work.  It is broken down into 7 categories: Anatomy Studies, Plein Air, Portraiture, Still Life, Academic Work, Illustration, and Commission. Clicking on each image you will take you to a sub-page within the gallery to view individual works. 

Here's an example of what you might find inside (for example) the STILL LIFE sub category.

The next page is my SHOP. Here is where you can buy original work, high quality prints (from Society 6), books or the tutorials I have made. Every cent you spend on this page supports my journey as an artist: Studio bills, model fees, art materials, upgrading skills, exhibitions, brain food, etc.  

This last page is where you contact me and make enquiries should you be interested in buying my art or hiring me as an artist.  You can also find links to follow me wherever you can on the various social media sites.  

Friday, August 28, 2015

Exhibition: Studying Life

Just a quick shoutout:
I'm in a group show with 2 other fantastic realist artists - Sara Chong and Yanyun Chen
Come see our Art if you are in Singapore!! 

Studying Life puts together an array of representational works, including landscapes, portraits and still lives by artists Alvin Mark Tan, Sara Chong and Yanyun Chen. Each of them has been trained in acclaimed ateliers in Florence and Sweden for a period of one to three years. 

This Exhibition runs from 15 September - 4 October 2015 at Artistry,
from Tue-Sun, 10am to 7pm. 

17 Jalan Pinang, Singapore, 199149

Monday, August 3, 2015

La Natura Morta (The Still Life)

Ciao from Florence!! I realised I haven't been painting any Italian themed still life pieces, so here are three small studies of what I see a lot of around me.  I was told that you see more reds growing during the summers than any other time of the year. And since we're in the season, I should take the opportunity to paint what's typical of the summers here -  your orangey reds.  I must point out that watermelons are this summer's favourite for me.

Some of these paintings have a demo video link attached to them. So enjoy the not so still life clips while it's still free!! :) 

Oil on Wood
20cm x 30cm

Pomodoro e Aglio
(Tomato & Garlic)
Oil on Canvas board
15cm x 20cm

Macina Cafe
(The Coffee Grinder)
Oil on Canvas board
20cm x 30cm


These original paintings are up for grabs. so message me if you are interested.