Monday, August 26, 2013

Snatching time

Gone are the days when I had hours of uninterrupted time. Now it's all about snatching five, ten minutes here, fifteen minutes there. Today, I only found time to doodle these birds.

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Village

I bought some stamp pads yesterday and had to test them out so I made more stamps and put them to work. And they worked like a charm. The colours are limited but I was so happy I found them. The stamp pads I see featured in a lot of the blogs I read are beyond my budget but these were really affordable. Excellent!

As usual, I had no idea what I wanted to do or where I was going with all my random testing. This village scene grew from trying to cover the mess I was making :)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


... or trying to be :)

Poster colour, acrylic and Chinese brush pen on paper.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Kampung - Part 2

This wooden staircase was originally part of a lower landing adjacent to the landing you see in the picture. My grandma's room used to be there but over the years she spent more time downstairs and so it made more sense to make do without it. Later, my uncle did some renovations and had the lower landing taken down all together. It's a good thing too. Now there's more space downstairs for everyone to get together. And without the lower landing the ceilings are higher so it's also cooler. 

I love it that my uncle decided to reuse the wooden staircase. It's in excellent shape. But it wasn't easy for my grandparents and now my dad, aunts and uncles to make their way up and down those steep steps. So, many years ago a couple of beds were installed behind that staircase under the landing and two additional bedrooms were built near the kitchen. 

Here's the upper landing with thick quilts spread out and pillows and blankets neatly arranged for my cousins and their families coming home for Eid al-Fitr.

When we were kids we would hang out here and watch tv. Now the tv has been brought downstairs so there's no excuse to not socialize with everyone else. Before we even had any tv, we would walk to the neighbour's house to watch theirs. There were only two channels back then but that was good enough for us as long as we got to watch Harold Lloyd in black and white nevertheless :)

That door leads to my dad's bedroom. 

My two kids looking out the window of my dad's bedroom which has also been prepped and readied for our relatives to spend the night in.

Beautiful rusted iron detail.

Above the door leading out to the verandah - prayers asking for protection :)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


I am having loads of fun with my new stamps :)


I found these wooden blocks at Daiso and immediately thought of making some stamps. At first I tried carving them but that didn't work out. Then I remembered reading a post about using foam. Luckily I had a roll stashed somewhere. I laid it out and cut up a bunch of shapes using a blade and scissors and pasted them onto the blocks with white glue.

I figured I've got to get the most out of the blocks so I pasted on every side!

I got the idea to create the tree branches using only one simple shape from Making An Impression: Designing and Creating Artful Stamps by Geninne Zlatkis.

My stamps are a mess because I used a brush to paint on the poster colour instead of using stamp pads or a roller. For the girl I used a Chinese paint brush pen. It works almost as well as the Sakura Pigma Brush Pen. Unfortunately the bristles come off easily. I guess that's why it's cheaper :)

Making An Impression

I am such a huge fan of Geninne Zlatkis. I discovered her blog a couple of years ago and have been following it ever since. I think she has the most beautiful blog. Her photos, her work and glimpses into her life in Mexico make every post inspiring. 

A few days ago I finally managed to get her book on carving stamps. I've been wanting it ever since she announced she was working on it. It's full of great projects easy enough for a novice like me but I especially love how it helps you get the most out of your stamps.

Kampung - Part 1

Every year for Eid al-Fitr we would go back to the man's hometown in Taiping, Perak to visit my in-laws and drive further north the following day up to my dad's hometown in Teluk Kumbar, Penang.

It's always a bittersweet trip for me. On one hand I get to visit the kampung where my dad grew up but on the other hand I get a bit depressed seeing the changes that come with development. I dread seeing apartments and link houses slowly, inevitably taking over what used to be beautiful padi fields, lush jungles and quaint kampung homes.

So, I am grateful my uncle and aunt have continued to live in my great grandparents' house and have taken the best of care so that it still stands handsome for the the 5th generation - my kids - to see and enjoy.

This is the main road leading through the kampung and to my great grandparents' house.

It wasn't always a tar road. It used to be a rugged path hardly wide enough for one car and so full of holes and tree roots we would be bouncing up and down in the car as we made our way to the house in the dark. Back then there were no highways and so what is now a four hour journey from Kuala Lumpur used to take us 8 - 9 hours and we would usually arrive at night.

The road still fits only one car but it's a much smoother ride now.

Above is a painting my dad did of the original house. He was in his teens when he painted this and every time I look at it I can't believe the colours are still brilliant after all these years. My photo doesn't do it justice at all.

My dad is in his early 70s by the way so you can get an idea how old this painting is :) 

Here's what it looks like now. Those windows are my dad's bedroom windows. The best view.

The main house is intact but there have been some renovations as you can see. That extended portion on the right is part of the kitchen and a bathroom. When I was growing up the kitchen was literally a cement floor and a small hole in the wall to allow water to flow out. Electricity was supplied in the early 60s so we were cooking using a stove by then but the kampung didn't get water till much later and we had to wash the the dishes on the floor using water carried from the well nearby.

Now, the kitchen is tiled and fitted with lots of cabinets and a working sink. No more trips to the well. It's not even there anymore  :(
Edited: Found out it's still there but no one uses it anymore

There was also no toilet or bathroom. We had to use an outhouse in the back when we had to go. I remember not bringing enough water once and had to yell for some more. My poor grandma had to hurry over with another pail of water. For baths or for washing clothes we would go to the river although I think it's more like a stream or a brook that runs through two ponds - a large, shallow one where the kampung women and children would bathe and wash the clothes and a smaller, fairly deeper pond further up for the men folk. Sometimes we kids would sneak up to use it too!

Soon, my dad's family had a small "shed" built at the side of the house where the current bathroom now stands. Unfortunately, it was so low we had to bend down and squat to bathe. I hated it not only because of the height but also because there were gaps between the roof and walls and I was sure anyone who passed by could see me bathe. Now there are three large, airy, spacious bathrooms, two of which have attached toilets. Oh. And there's a washing machine now of course.

All this to accommodate the ever growing family.

These steps leading up to that small verandah were also added later on. Up a few more steps on the right is a door to my dad's room.

A window to my dad's bedroom. 

The bars and diamond grills have been there for as long as I remember but the chicken coop fence below was fixed several years ago due to the rampant thieving. Sad. We used to play under the house and look for eggs in the baskets put out for the many chickens my grandparents reared. We had to be careful because most of the time the hens would be sitting on their eggs and some of them were really feisty. It's a bummer the kampung is no longer a safe place. Years ago you could leave the house unlocked and the doors wide open. Now everything has to be barred up and the pretty scallops are rendered not so pretty anymore. 

Under lock and key.

The bicycle on the right belonged to my late grandfather - a fisherman and a farmer of many skills,  highly refined craftsmanship and a fiery temper. Apparently he scolded me once for playing with his bicycle but somehow I can't seem to remember that at all. What I do remember is sitting with him and watching him patiently mend his fishing net with the utmost care. I also remember him always barefoot. According to my uncle he never wore shoes or slippers, not since he was young except for formal occasions. I don't think it was just an eccentricity. My grandfather was truly one with nature. 

Another angle :)

Friday, August 2, 2013

Illustration Friday: Jungle

I really liked this week's topic because I got to explore an old obsession of mine - plants. I came across a quote on Pinterest - "Draw what you see not what you know" and I realize the problem I get stuck all the time is because I don't exercise my observation skills. So, for this piece I did a sketch first and looked up some pictures and the plants outside my window as reference and for inspiration. You can see it's quite different from my usual style. It took time to get out of my comfort zone. Didn't think I could do it but ... :)  Learnt a lot!

Note: The last time I did anything for Illustration Friday was November last year!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Kebaya girls


Another piece I don't think I will be finishing any time soon. Half way through I started doodling on it. Then the toddler got her hands on my brush again and gave the girl at the bottom right corner a nice pink makeover.

It's the fasting month now and soon we will be celebrating Eid-al Fitr. Am thinking of making some cards.
We'll see :)