「速寫檳城」十周年紀念

我中學時期,寫生人數是一群的。後來大家長大了,各散東西,寫生人數也慢慢從一群人減至我一人。初入社會工作,認識了昌仁,寫生人數變成兩個。過後我們結伴到曼谷旅行寫生,看到當地畫友寫生人數是一堆的,我們頗為羨慕。回來後我們決定成立眾樂樂寫生團「速寫檳城」。慢慢的寫生人數再由兩個人增至一打人,後來變成很多人!

「速寫檳城」在2012和2014年分別辦了「素描喬治市壹和貳」,一起寫生的人數由很多檳城人變很多馬來西亞人,很多馬來西亞人變很多亞洲人,最後變成很多世界各國的人。我們都同屬一個大家庭—「城市速寫人」(Urban Sketchers)。

一晃,大家在檳城一起寫生的時間已經十年了。人來人去,人多人少不重要,重要的是這十年間我們一起擁有了無數個的快樂星期天早上。畫得好畫得差也不重要,相互支持和鼓勵最重要,享受寫生的過程更加重要。祝福大家未來繼續享受更多的歡樂星期天!

30 Years Sketching Penang

Translated by Ryan Ng

In light of the recent Movement Control Order (MCO), I decided to use my free time to compile and re-evaluate the artworks I have done over the last three decades.

My sketching journey began when I was in secondary school. Besides being an active member of Chung Ling High School Art Society, I also sought private lessons from artists outside of school. I had two teachers – Dato’ Tan Chiang Kiong and the late Mr. Tan Lye Hoe. I still remember Mr Tan Lye Hoe saying to me, “The stone lions outside Tan Kongsi* are amazing still-life subject to practice. The lions should appear three-dimensional. You need to draw as though you are a sculptor – every stroke must be concise and powerful.” That was my introduction to sketching and the start to my artistic journey.

*Tan Kongsi is a clan temple that used to be a place of dwelling in the 19th century by the Chinese Hokkien immigrants who share the surname, Tan.

As my secondary school only offered Science and Commerce subjects, I did not have the opportunity to study fine art. Reluctantly, I became a Science stream student. I did not enjoy all of my subjects but biology, and that was only because I love watching fishes in the aquarium! My only escape from my dull subjects was the weekly meeting of Chung Ling Art Society. I remember vividly the little art room underneath my school’s clock tower. There were two hallways entrance to the room. We only used the left hallway because we used the right-side one as a pottery studio! I remember the plaster sculptures that were displayed in the room for drawing practice. I used to laugh when the mischievous students make undergarments for Venus out of little cloth strips.

Every Saturday, the art society’s meeting was from 9 am to 12 noon, then the few of us would go to George Town for lunch and watch a movie. We used to admire Hong Kong film director Wong Kar-wai, even though we did not understand his films half the time! I suppose we just enjoyed the simple lifestyle and company of each other.

Besides Saturday meetings, us ‘art fanatics’ would often have on-location sketching on Sunday mornings. We would excitedly set off in our motorcycles, giving our juniors a lift along the way as some of them either did not have a license or just had very strict parents. These experiences I had sketching with my friends are now memories that I hold very dear. It was a time of genuine happiness, as we focused on ‘playing’ more than serious drawing. It did not matter how ‘good’ we were, so as long as we were having fun.

It was then I fell in love with the practice of on-location sketching. This practice has become a habit that has stayed with me until this day.

Selected pencil sketches from the 1990s. Drawn in a Daler-Rowney A4 sketchbook.

Pencil & Graphite

I decided to pursue architecture after graduating from secondary school. I then became a little busier and was sketching less frequently. Thankfully, I could still hand-draw all my design sketch and even use watercolour washes in some of the presentations. My architectural training provided me with a deeper understanding of space and further informed my approach to drawing them.

After my degree, I worked as an architect for a little over a year before switching to the graphic design until this day. From 2001–2005, I made lots of graphite drawings of Penang, my hometown, in quarter imperial format (28 x 38 cm). Looking back at those works, most buildings and street scenes are no more. One of the more notable places is Sia Boey market, that now exists only as a collective memory among old Penangites.

I think my drawings have become my way of keeping a diary. With no words, every drawing functions as a diary entry. As I flip through old works, memories of emotions, weather, and the occasional conversations with passers-by resurface in my mind and warm my heart. It always seems as though they just happened yesterday.

After collecting a number of drawings, I held my second solo exhibition, My Sketches Diary in 2002 at Ching Lotus Humanist Space, Penang. I invited my teacher, the late Mr Tan Lye Hoe as my guest of honour.

For more drawings from 2001-2005, click here.

One day, I had leftover long-format cartridge paper following a graphic design project. Not wanting the paper to go to waste, I decided to use it for sketching. I was immediately faced with a problem – I could not draw a complete street scene. All of a sudden, multiple dilemmas presented themselves: drawing the sky would mean giving up on the ground; drawing the ground would make the upper half of the street non-existent; I could always minimize the entire scene, but I would have to give up detail! This was all very challenging, and at the same time very exciting. My happy coincidence encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone and think of newer, more dynamic compositions.

I started asking myself questions and rethinking my approach to drawing. “Why must the whole of a building be drawn? I am free to decide what I draw!” That conclusion led to my mini epiphany – that ‘selecting and discarding’ (subjects) is more important than ‘filling up’ (the paper).

I began to take a new approach. I no longer started a drawing by sketching the entire building. Instead, I started by forming composition in my head before starting with a point on paper. I found it freeing to let my lines flow in all directions from a single starting point – from up to down, left to right, my lines endlessly changing and evolving. I was freed!

My hand could then follow my heart.

I found my newly discovered method very fitting for depicting the street scenes of Penang. I made many drawings in a similar style during 2009-2010.

For more drawings from 2009-2016, click here.

In 2009, I exhibited a series of long format sketches of Penang, titled Line-line Cerita, cerita meaning story in Malay. I also compiled drawings from several years and published my first book Sketches of Pulo Pinang. This would not have been possible without the help of my friends. My appreciation goes to Lee Khai for editing, to Tan Yau Chong for translation and proofreading, and to Lee Khai, again, Tan Lye Hoe, Tan Yeow Wooi, Khoo Cheang Jin and Ambiga Devy for contributing to the writing of the book.

Kiah Kiean’s accomplishments in art are expansive. Among the many are his streetscape sketches. He has a sensitive perception for buildings. With his exaggerated yet balanced form and his seemingly chaotic yet emotive lines, he brings the streetscape, especially old buildings, he sketches to life. Each modest or even dilapidated old building seems to come alive with vigour, proudly showing off.

Khoo Cheang Jin

But Kiah Kiean’s sketches are not direct, realist representations of the old buildings and street scenes of George Town. They are always imbued with his passion and affection toward his home city. By representing the buildings and street scenes with a twist, he is in effect expressing his affectionate impressions of his subjects.

In the sketches, Kiah Kiean embraces his subjects, be they buildings or street scenes, with strokes of thick and thin lines in so powerful a manner that the subjects are somehow twisted. Such an affectionate embrace of his subjects is always interesting and very often touching.

Tan Yeow Wooi

Dry Twig & Chinese Ink

Following the publishing of my book, I got into contact with a Taiwanese artist, Professor Carton Chen. Professor Chen is a retired lecturer from the National Yang-Ming University in Taiwan, and a co-founder of Urban Sketchers Taipei. In 2011, during my vacation to Taipei, I received a very warm welcome from Professor Chen and his fellow art friends. We immediately hit it off and started sharing about our own art practices. I remember Professor Chen telling me how he draws with an ink-stained twig. He explained how he stores his ink in a little jar containing a sponge for convenience, reducing spillage and improving ink control. I was fascinated.

The following day, I went sketching in Tamsui District with some Taiwanese artists. During the session, I tried out Professor Chen’s twig pencil technique and fell in love with it instantly.

After returning to Penang, I made many monochrome sketches with dry twig and Chinese ink. I mostly used smooth surface paper in 2011-2012.

For more twig and Chinese ink sketches from 2011 and 2012, click here.

I had my fourth solo exhibition Line-line Journey in 2011 and released a book under the same name, Line-line Journey.

Last Christmas Eve, I was thrilled to receive a present from a faraway friend. Penang Black & White, a collection of postcards by Malaysian artist Ch’ng Kiah Kiean arrived in the mail. His lines are a rich artistic language that tells stories of old towns washed pale by time. His lines are dense in some areas and sparse in others, generating contrast and rhythm like the most beautiful melody.

Ung Vai Meng

To me, through the lens of Kiah Kiean’s drawings, I am able to see the lands and structures of Malaysia – the little tropical former British colony. Even though KK rarely draws people, it feels like I can see the little alleyways where different races live in harmony. It is as though I can feel little glimmers of life that peek through KK’s strokes of dense and sparse and dark and light. There is life in the window panes and roofing that provide shade and shadow, there is life in the cracks of the old, chipping structures that somehow possess a sense of grandeur. With a bold hand, KK presents both extreme precision and spontaneous transformation, creating a seemingly endless interchange of streetscapes and negative space.

雷驤

Eventually, I started to realise that smooth paper does not work very well with the ink-dipped twig as it lacks friction. My strokes were not very easy to control and it constantly seemed like my twig was slipping. I started using traditional watercolour paper, and I found cold pressed paper to be my favourite. I also prefer Saunders Waterford over other brands as the paper is yellowish, giving it a vintage impression. Besides, it is easily obtainable in Penang. Saunders has remained a personal favourite up until this day.

When I started using ink and twig, the greyish tones in my drawing were created through either rubbing a blunted twig on paper or painted on with diluted ink. The blunted twig could only cover small areas. Though diluted ink could solve the problem I still felt it wasn’t enough.

I then gave myself a challenge. What if I managed to create a method with undiluted ink that could cover wide areas in greyish tones with controllable depth and contrast? The initial concept came from traditional Chinese brush painting’s cun-fa (皴法) a method using dried ink to paint mountains, rocks, and tree bark, creating textures and depth. After many experiments, I discovered I could create my desired effect with stiff-bristled stencil brushes that are dipped in ink then dried. I did it! I called this technique ‘dry-washing’.

Artist statement edited by my good friend Song Gang for my solo exhibition Ink-Between.

I started using dry twigs and Chinese ink to draw in 2011, beginning with “dots” and “lines”, but I had to use diluted ink in order to achieve a grayscale “surface”. Later I found that the ink midtone surface can be achieved by rubbing ink with a dry brush on watercolour paper. I call this technique “dry wash”. With this technique, the drawing method with pure ink and twigs has become more complete. Ink-Between represents my dialogue with the traditional ink painting, with an attempt to re-think it and give it a new interpretation.

Ink-Between

For more dry twig and Chinese ink drawings from 2011-2019, click here.

Chinese Ink & Watercolour

It was a long and very much monochrome journey from graphite pencils to twigs and ink. At some points during these years, I have experimented with colours, only to find them difficult to control and easily overdone.

These are old sketches I did with pencil and light watercolour washes. Due to the paper being only semi-water absorbent, I could only use watercolour sparingly and quickly so as to not damage the drawing.

Sometime in 2011, I started applying watercolour to my dry twig and Chinese ink sketches whenever suitable. Then, I used watercolours from secondary school that were long untouched. Most colours had already dried up, so I had to add water to it before every use.

Seeing five colours leave the eyes blind; hearing five sounds leave the ears deaf; tasting five senses leave the mouth numb

Laozi

Eventually, I bought a new watercolours. My artworks became a lot more colourful. They began to border gaudy, and I was confused. Laozi claims that ‘five colours make one blind’. It seems like my excessive colour usage has left my eyes confused and the focal point unclear. The rich pigmentation of my new watercolours has now covered the unique lines of my twig pen.

In the beginning, I blamed this failure on my watercolours being of too high a calibre. Eventually, after a sharing session by artist Ng Woon Lam on colour usage, I then realised my mistake was because I lacked understanding in colour application. My brushstrokes were not confident enough and a little too sloppy, resulting in colours mixing with each other, complicating the painting. I started re-learning watercolour. My colour usage became more minimal, and my strokes more confident.

Inspired by colour filters in photography, I also explored the possibility of selective colouring.

For more twig drawings in colour, click here.

The Magical ArtGraf

During a workshop and trip to Paris in 2017, in an art store near the Pantheon, I stumbled upon ArtGraf, a brand of water-soluble graphite that was produced in Portugal. Its contents are similar to that of regular graphite, but it can be applied with a brush due to its water-soluble nature.

I had already come across ArtGraf product in Italy sometime before that, but it never occurred to me that graphite could be applied with a brush. I think simple solutions are often easy to overlook and sometimes, all we need is just a little pointer! Now, I use it together with pencils as I can have both the fun of pencil and brush.

My interest in graphite was sparked again. Only this time, I added ArtGraf.

The once-bustling Sia Boey market is now converted into George Town’s recreational park. Despite the change, the old tree remains constant.

For recent pencil sketches, click here.

As an artist, it is so common to be met with bottlenecks whether in terms of media, format, or subject matter. I believe this to be the artist’s challenge and daily homework. Every breakthrough should be celebrated, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. The artistic journey is one that has to be taken alone, as no one is as sensitive to changes in your artworks as you.

Below are my recent twig and Chinese ink drawings, some coloured. Here, I used a harder twig and thinned the tip to allow for more variations in thickness and line quality. This little change has allowed me to accommodate more detail in my drawings.

For more recent dry twig and Chinese ink sketches, click here.

Now, I select brighter and more transparent colours. When applying, I try to minimize brushstrokes as well.

For more recent dry twig and Chinese ink drawings in colour, click here.

Conclusion

I believe my artistic journey of 30 years can be divided into three periodic timelines – Pencil & Graphite, Dry Twig & Chinese Ink, and Chinese Ink and Watercolour. However, this was not a linear process. In between there were experiments, there were failures, but thankfully all of them could be overcome. These 30 years are just a beginning. I am well aware I still have a long journey ahead of me.

Perhaps it is because I’ve lived on an island for too long, or that I’m not very adventurous by nature, whether it is studying, working, or making art, I have always stayed in Penang, my little island. It was sketching that brought me out of my comfort zone, allowing me to visit new places and make lifelong friends along the way. Writing about my 30 years of sketching seems to me like completing a huge diary, a diary dedicated to my homeland.


To the teacher advisors of Chung Ling Art Society, Mr Chai Chuan Jin, Dato’ Tan Chiang Kiong and the late Mr Teoh Leong Ban, the individuals I first had the privilege to be led by. Thank you for being my inspiration and foundation.

To my sketching buddies who I cycled with – Yik See, Mow Sern, Kheng Hong, Kheng Jin, Meng Sin, Hun Meng, Kean Eng, Guan Long, Chih Ning, Kok Hooi, Chin Soon, Siew Ho, Take Huat, Choon Ping, Siew Wai, Swee Aun, Chok Yan, Kar Keat, Seng Khiam, Fook Long, Kean Jin & Wei Teong. This journey started from you, from us. Thank you for your companionship, thank you for the memories I will forever cherish, and most importantly, thank you for making art fun for me.

Special thanks to Ryan Ng for your time and effort to translate this article.

素描檳城三十載

趁目前冠狀病毒行動管控期間,我整理了自己近三十年的素描作品。

我在初中時期開始學習素描。那時除了「鍾靈美術研究會」的課外活動練習,我也向校外的藝術家習畫。兩位老師分別是陳昌孔及陳來和老師。記得陳來和老師曾對我說過「姓陳公司家廟前的石獅就是你很好的素描練習對象。石獅要畫得立體,筆觸就得學匠師雕刻石獅,每一刀都簡潔有力。」那是我對素描初步的認識。

我就讀的中學當時只有理或商科可選,沒有藝術。我無可奈何唯有選擇理科。我只對生物科有一點點的興趣,其實是只對養魚有興趣!我中學最快樂的時光算是加入鍾靈美術研究會了,那是學校的課外活動之一。當時美術研究會的會所是在母校大鐘樓的下一層,要上鐘樓需經由我們美術會的會所。會所有左右兩個走廊入口,我們只用左側,把右側半露天的走廊作為陶藝室。美術會有早期創會的師長們從英國訂來得石膏像以供同學們練習素描。頑皮的同學們常愛用布塊把維納斯的乳房遮住。

美術會的活動時間為每星期六早上九點至中午十二點,過後少數會員會留下來一起吃午餐然後下坡*(檳城人愛把喬治市以外的地方稱為山上或山頂,下坡即指去喬治市)看電影。當時王家衛是我們的最愛,然而很多時候我都不知道他在拍些甚麼!

課外活動時間之外,那時候我們一群「藝術狂熱分子」也常在星期天相約去寫生。我們是騎電單車出發,有駕照的去載年級較小或家裡管教嚴厲不讓孩子騎車的學弟。寫生成了我中學時期最美好的回憶也是最快樂的時光。當時「玩」的成分是多過認真的畫畫。

我是在那時候愛上「寫生」的。寫生的習慣也是由那時起一直伴我至今。

1990年代的部分檳城鉛筆素描作品,畫於Daler-Rowney A4素描本。

石墨鉛筆

中學畢業後我就讀於檳城理科大學建築系。建築系的訓練讓我對空間的解讀有更深一層的認識和多一分的思考。那時候課業較忙,寫生的次數減少了。但是設計功課仍以手繪,設計呈圖也是手繪淡彩表現。

建築系畢業後,我馬馬虎虎的當了一年多建築設計師,後來改行平面設計至今。2001至2005年期間我以四開水彩紙的格式(28 x 38 cm)鉛筆素描了家鄉檳城。回看那時的作品,許多的建築和街景皆以不復在。其中包括許多老檳城人的集體回憶—社尾萬山*(萬山為檳城地方語言市場之意)。

我是以素描寫日記的!沒有文字,一幅畫就是一頁日記。每每回看自己的素描,當時作畫的感受、天氣、路人的問候、交談偶爾也會湧上心頭,記憶猶新。

收集了一定數量的作品後,我於2002年在檳城清荷人文空間辦了第二次個展「我的素描日記」並由已故恩師陳來和先生主持開幕。

更多2001至2005時期的作品請看連結

在一個偶然的機緣因設計印刷工作剩下一些質量頗好的長型圖畫紙,我就用來素描檳城街景。改變慣用的格式讓我有新發現。開始時困擾我的問題是我無法把建築的整個立面完整畫完,如畫天就沒法有地,如畫地就需捨棄上半部的街道;若硬要把全部立面畫完則比例需縮小,畫不了細節。這對我而言是個新挑戰,於是我開始思考新的構圖模式。

我開始問自己「為甚麼一定非要畫完整的建築立面?」我可自由選擇的呀!取上取下,構圖由我自由決定。「捨棄」比「填滿」更為重要,這發現頓時讓我茅塞頓開。

於是我嘗試了一個新的畫法,不勾勒建築的整體,憑經驗和感覺在腦海中簡單構圖後就從一定點下筆,讓線條和塊面四方擴散。方向可上可下,可左可右,隨機應變,變化多端。我的畫面構圖更為自由了!

我手隨我心。

之後我發現這種格式和畫法很適合檳城的街景,在2009和2010年間我大量的畫了該格式的街景素描。

更多2009至2016時期的鉛筆素描作品請看連結

2009年尾我展出了那一系列長型檳城素描作品「線條的故事」並把好幾年的作品結集成我的第一本作品集《素描老檳城》。感謝當時很多朋友傾力相助,其中包括編輯李凱、翻譯和校對陳耀宗 、寫序的李凱、陳來和老師、陳耀威、邱昌仁及Ambiga Devy。

嘉強涉獵的藝術有很多方面,其中最為人津津樂道的即是他的街景速寫。憑著他對建築物的敏感,加上獨特的誇張但不失平衡的構圖,再配以亂中有序的極富情感的線條,筆下的景物都活了起來。尤其是老房子,再怎麼殘破簡陋不起眼的老屋在他筆下總能被注入新生命,然後很驕傲地展示自己。

邱昌仁

嘉強的素描不是對老街景物寫實的記錄,而是一種有感情的創作。所謂曲則有情,水平垂直的建築物經過誇張的變形,皆成了有情之景。他的素描像是對某一街角或建築物一角撒一團粗粗細細的線索,然後深情地纏抱,以致景物變形得有情有趣,令人感動。

陳耀威

枯枝水墨

也因這本書我認識了台灣的畫友陳文盛教授。陳教授現是已退休的國立陽明大學教授也是速寫台北的發起人之一。2011年我初次到台北旅行寫生,受到陳教授和其他畫友的熱情招待。志趣相投的我們分享了彼此的寫生工具與心得。還記得那天陳教授開車經關渡平原時告訴我他以撿來的枯枝當筆沾墨作畫。墨汁則裝在含有海綿的小罐子中,目的是方便攜帶,控制墨量,不易打翻。

隔天我們和其他畫友相約到淡水寫生。我向陳教授借了他的枯枝筆來試畫,一下筆我就愛上了!

回檳以後我以枯枝筆和墨汁大量畫了一系列黑白檳城素描作品。2011和2012年間我多用滑面畫紙。

更多2011和2012年枯枝水墨素描作品請看連結

2011年我辦了第四次個展「路‧線」同時出版《路‧線》素描作品集。

去年聖誕前夕,叫人喜出望外地收到一份來自遠方的禮物,一套出自馬來西亞畫家莊嘉強的素描名信片專集《黑白老檳城》。作品中,那時而密集、時而空疏的交錯線條,以豐富的藝術語彙,編織起一幕幕歲月洗刷後的舊城故事,奏出了一段段光影交織的動人樂章。

今天,欣聞嘉強舉辦個人素描畫展在即,在送上本人衷心祝福之餘,心裡更期待著:什麼時候和這位素未謀面的青年朋友,拿著鉛筆、畫板一起穿越窄巷橫街,或在檳城,或在澳門。

吳衛鳴

予我,那個熱帶的歐人曾經殖民的土地與建築;華人、馬來人、印度人雜居的街巷(雖然畫中幾乎不見一人),生命的樣相熠熠閃爍,在筆觸濃密或疏淡之間;在窗櫺遮棚的暗影之中。那些出現在畫面上古老、殘舊卻有某種莊嚴的建築物,莊君以率性執著的筆,一方面呈現其無比精確的觀察;同時又主觀的任意變形和留白。

雷驤

後來我發現枯枝和滑面畫紙接觸感較不佳,筆勢不易控制,有溜滑的感覺。我開始嘗試用傳統水彩紙來作畫,冷壓中紋畫紙(Cold Pressed)最合我意。品牌則喜歡英國出產的Saunders Waterford,其紙色偏淡黃有古樸之感,也較易在檳城購得。目前我仍使這品牌畫紙作畫。

開始使用枯枝筆時,畫面的灰階是以鈍頭枯枝筆摩擦或稀釋的淡墨渲染。鈍頭筆摩擦的面積有限,很難處理大塊面。淡墨渲染雖可解問題,但我心中總覺得有些不足和不快!

我給自己的挑戰是「如果單以純墨,如何做到大面積兼有層次的灰階效果?」以傳統水墨畫皴法為參考,經過不斷的嘗試,我發現用硬毛拓印筆沾少許墨汁,弄乾,刷於中紋水彩紙上可達那效果。我將之稱為「乾染法」!

經好友宋剛修飾後的《墨間》展覽簡介。

繪事廿載,五年前始用枯木沾墨作畫。「點」「線」漸能得心應手,唯灰階之「面」,除濃墨稀釋渲染之外,久無他法。後偶然之間,發現以乾筆拂刷水彩紙可得暈染之趣,遂命之為「乾染法」。至此墨畫點線面手法略臻完備。《墨間》乃以此法與水墨傳統對話,嘗試反思與新詮。

《墨間》

更多2011至2019年枯枝水墨素描作品請看連結

水墨水彩

從石墨鉛筆到枯枝水墨的一條漫長黑白系列道路,間中我也嘗試佐以顏色。顏色對我而言卻是不易掌控的,一不小心往往畫蛇添足。

以下為較早期的鉛筆淡彩作品。因畫於非水彩紙,紙質不耐水所以上水彩時只能快速及輕描淡寫。

2011年間,我開始枯枝水墨素描於水彩紙,偶爾也為黑白的畫面上水彩。那時用的是中學時期擱置已久的舊水彩盒,很多顏色都已硬化只能加多一點水稀釋。

五色令人目盲;五音令人耳聾;五味令人口爽

老子

後來添購了新的水彩顏料,作品顏色也越來越豐富,越來越豔麗,但我卻迷惑了。老子說「五色令人目盲」太多的顏色讓人感覺眼花撩亂,觀者也迷失。過多和過艷的顏色把枯枝筆獨特的線條美掩蓋了。

開始時我把失敗怪罪於太好的顏料。後來聽了畫友運南「用色」的分享才發現其實自己對於顏色的了解不夠、用筆拖泥帶水以至畫面顏色混濁和混亂。於是我重新學習和探索水彩。用色由「繁」入「簡」;用筆也「反反覆覆」化「直截了當」。

有些畫面我也借用攝影濾鏡手法,局部上色處理。

更多枯枝水墨上彩作品請看連結

神奇石墨

2017年的巴黎素描工作坊和旅行期間,我在近萬神殿的一間美術社發現了由葡萄牙所生產的水溶性石墨(ArtGraf)。其成分和普通鉛筆差不多但特點是可溶於水並能以水彩筆作畫。我通常將它和鉛筆一起使用,如此可兼有鉛筆及畫筆作畫之樂趣。

我之前於義大利工作坊時就知道該品牌產品,但沒想過「石墨」可用水彩筆作畫。有時候想不通的東西經別人一點就通!

於是我又回到闊別已久的鉛筆素描,這次我加了「神奇水溶性石墨」。

近期的鉛筆素描作品可看連結

在媒介、格式、題材間游移常常會遇到瓶頸。我想這是給藝術家的挑戰和功課。每一次的跨越和克服都是令人開心的事,雖然有時只是很小、很細微的改變。這往往只有孤獨的畫家自己察覺得到。

以下為我近期的枯枝水墨及水墨加水彩素描作品。我用了較硬的枯枝當筆,筆頭削薄,所以畫的線條有粗細變化,畫面可納較多細節。

更多近期枯枝水墨素描作品可看連結

水彩用色也選透明度較高的顏色,下筆盡量一氣呵成。

更多近期枯枝水墨加水彩素描作品可看連結

結尾

我把自己近三十年的素描作品分成「石墨鉛筆」、「枯枝水墨」和「水墨水彩」三部分依照時間性整理。但這過程並非是直線式的,間中有很多實驗性的穿插。當然也有很多的失敗,所幸過程中都可以克服跨越。三十年只是一個開始,未來的路還很長。

不知道是島民心態還是自己不太勇敢,我出生、求學、工作都在檳榔嶼這個小島。但卻因為「素描」讓我有機會游走世界多個城市,認識了許多好朋友。三十年的素描作品收集起來就像一本厚厚的日記本––「一本寫給家鄉的日記」。


獻給鍾中美術研究會的顧問老師––蔡傳仁、陳昌孔和已故張龍萬師。

及一起騎電單車去寫生的學兄弟們––益之、茂盛、慶雄、慶麟、明信、漢民、建永、元龍、志寧、國輝、禎順、绍豪、得發、俊斌、兆偉、瑞安、茁原、嘉傑、勝謙、福龍、楗仁、偉忠。

2019-10 Trip to Hanoi

千萬條線 無一是對 無一是錯

記得那晚初抵河內就被他繁忙的交通和噪聲嚇到。

開始時膽怯的我無法越過馬路,過了一會兒我就喜歡在河內大街小巷自由穿梭的感覺。過馬路只要勇敢直接走過就可,沒有車會撞你;隨心所欲,當然還是要注意交通。如過要等到所有的車都按規矩停下才過,那是不可能的!每個城市都有自己的規矩,明白了順應就可。

還沒到河內就久聞其「交通」和「電線」混亂的大名。我拜訪過的東南亞城市如曼谷、雅加達、三寶瓏等都有類似的景觀,電線縱橫交錯,蔚為奇觀。那些城市的線條是有生命力的。

我的第一幅素描就是老街的電線桿。我覺得它像一顆大樹,樹葉由千萬條電線組成,樹幹是方塊空心磚砌成。樹和樹相互連結把整個城市串在一起。

有些「電線樹」下小小的周圍就是一個小販擺攤找生計養活一家人的地方。空心磚的洞是他的臨時置物櫃。「電線樹」的「葉子」––電線團像是街屋上層落地窗外的寄生植物。

雜亂的線條是我喜歡素描的題材之一。因為「亂」所以容易找到節奏,因為「亂」所以城市街景更為生動,也因為「亂」所以畫錯了也沒有人知道。千萬條線,無一是對,無一是錯。

河內的電線把老城串在一起,速寫人的線條則將世界各地熱愛素描的心連在一起。

河內之旅回來後不久,一位年青的越南畫友卻悄悄離我們而去。記得前年大家還在台中的火鍋店喝酒暢聊,靦腆不多話的你臉上總是掛著微笑。懷念你––Phong Khieu。

素描老檳城 Sketches of Pulo Pinang

Kiah Kiean has a keen eye for the essential details and essence of things, fortified by his architectural training at the Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang and his flair in graphic design. He is able to distill a chaotic street scene and reduce it to his now distinctive streetscape. Though his subject matter may be rustic buildings, his drawings exude an obvious elegance and stylishness which are most pleasant to the eyes.

Lee Khai

嘉強涉獵的藝術有很多方面,其中最為人津津樂道的即是他的街景速寫。憑著他對建築物的敏感,加上獨特的誇張但不失平衡的構圖,再配以亂中有序的極富情感的線條,筆下的景物都活了起來。尤其是老房子,再怎麼殘破簡陋不起眼的老屋在他筆下總能被注入新生命,然後很驕傲地展示自己。

邱昌仁

Kiah Kiean’s love for the city and its heritage is conspicuous in this book. By representing the nooks and corners often ignored by the passer-by, he accentuates and thus elicits thought-provoking questions from the viewer of his works.

Ambiga Devy

嘉強的素描不是對老街景物寫實的記錄,而是一種有感情的創作。所謂曲則有情,水平垂直的建築物經過誇張的變形,皆成了有情之景。他的素描像是對某一街角或建築物一角撒一團粗粗細細的線索,然後深情地纏抱,以致景物變形得有情有趣,令人感動。

陳耀威

Kiah Kiean experiments with and explores all possibilities of expressing lines with graphite, giving his viewers much thought-provoking experience. As a direct approach to communicating with lines and tones he opts for just black and white sans colours so that his audience
may enjoy his works without other distractions.

Tan Lye Hoe

素描老檳城前言

我於2005在檳城亞化畫廊為嘉強的畫展策劃時認識他。在短短幾年裡,我們因同時在檳州州立畫廊委員會裡服務而培養了深切的友誼。雖然初識至今才五年,卻仿佛已認識他一生了。

嘉強自小就對素描有濃厚的興趣。我看過他五歲畫的素描,還有小中大學時代直到現今的作品,知道他對繪畫有過人的天份。天份加上後天的勤奮,嘉強已是現今檳州畫壇後起之秀。

我第一次看到嘉強的素描就被它們緊湊優美的線條深深地吸引住了。嘉強的本領在於能夠有效的捕捉他素描題材的精髓,再以他獨特的筆法呈現於紙上。雜亂的街景在他的眼光和筆法下一一變成了藝術精品。嘉強堅持不利用照片輔助他作畫,這本書裡的作品都是他在現場完成的。他已有自己強烈的風格,一眼就知道他不完全寫實的畫法是不能抄襲照片的。雖然如此,他有用相機記錄他素描題材的習慣,所以書裡的作品都有實地照片為證。嘉強這習慣非常有遠見。書裡的許多建築物已被拆毀(第18、19、24、25、28、29、88、105、127、133、144、145、156、157、158、159及161頁),這些作品與照片也就成了珍貴的歷史見證。

嘉強的繪畫導師陳來和及三位知交陳耀威、邱昌仁與AMBIGA DEVY為這本書寫了感言,非常感謝他們。耀威是知名的建築修復家,曾修復榮獲聯合國教科文組織文化遺產獎的韓江家廟。身為檳城水彩畫會主席的昌仁是位建築師,也是位擅長畫街景的知名畫家。AMBIGA DEVY是位熱誠藝術工作者。他們為這本書寫感言自然很貼切。在此也感謝陳耀宗協助翻譯和校對。

能為這本書編輯是我的榮幸,也是份優差。嘉強的作品並不需要多加修飾,原汁原味已十分精彩。這本書讓熱愛檳城的人們又多了一份珍藏品。

李凱 • 檳城


夢想的力量

對藝術的熱誠和不懈追求造就了今日的莊嘉強。他持有馬來西亞理科大學房屋、建築及策劃系和建築系雙學位,畢業後卻沒朝本科發展,反而成了一位成功的畫家和平面設計師。這一切只因他對夢想的力量深信不疑。

身為人師最為自豪的莫過於擁有一位勇於追求夢想的傑出學生了。嘉強自小就想當畫家。他小時候跟我習畫時就告訴我,藝術是他的最愛。

身為他的繪畫老師,我從未曾對他想當畫家的志願有所懷疑,因為他的藝術天份、潛力和熱情從小就展露無遺。儘管個性文靜且略顯害羞,他卻勇於將自己的情感和想法透過獨特的風格呈現於畫中。在我的繪畫班上,他總是不怕下苦工勤做練習,靜物寫生時尤其仔細和認真。

如今,他已擺脫正規繪畫訓練的種種羈絆走自己的藝術之路,以敏銳的線條和筆觸呈現出一幅幅啟人思考的素描。文靜害羞的他在藝術創作上無疑有著大膽強烈的風格,《素描老檳城》中的作品就是最好的證明。

嘉強以鉛筆線條進行的各種實驗和探索,往往給觀畫者極大的啟發。他選擇只以黑白線條來表現,如此則觀畫者的注意力就不會分散了。

他通過這樣的表現手法展現了極大的才華與功力,題材和手法也呈多樣化的表現,從街景到建築物,從漁船至海上人家,皆能以不同的手法善加處理。他最擅長寫實主義風格,這與他的建築設計出身不無關系。無論如何,這並不妨礙他趨向更自由和更具表現力的手法,以至趨近印象主義甚至半抽象的畫風,從而充分展現出他對此媒介的掌握和運用能力。

就一個年輕藝術家而言,能將自己多年來對藝術熱情追求的成果結集成這本傑出的《素描老檳城》,是一件值得慶賀的事,更是一項值得贊揚的成就。

陳來和 • 檳城


撒一團粗粗細細的線索

單看那歪歪斜斜、充滿噴灑張力又入「紙」三分的畫,我們很難將沉默寡言又身材清瘦的莊嘉強聯繫在一起。 莊嘉強可是一個悶騷型的畫家。

認識嘉強是在1996年「南洋民間文化」舉辦幻燈片欣賞會的時候。建築系在籍學生熱忱於校外的文化藝術活動,是十分難得的。他後來成為這團體的中堅份子,共同策劃多項的活動,同時也展現了多方面的才華與能力。

嘉強的繪畫創造性在中學就已遠遠超出同齡學生,甚至比許多畫家更具職業水準。除了繪畫,才氣橫溢的他也善書法、攝影和平面設計。 老檳城素描是嘉強眾多黑白速寫體裁之一。從小住在喬治市坡底的他,對老檳城有份難以割捨的記憶和關懷。近年市區發展變化頗大,他更加緊速度在街頭巷尾速寫。

不過嘉強的素描不是對老街景物寫實的記錄,而是一種有感情的創作。所謂曲則有情,水平垂直的建築物經過誇張的變形,皆成了有情之景。

他的素描像是對某一街角或建築物一角撒一團粗粗細細的線索,然後深情地纏抱,以致景物變形得有情有趣,令人感動。

另一方面,他的畫除了是線條網的迸發揮灑,也是黑與白的高速對話。虛與實、動與靜或緊與馳,都在不假思索同時著墨又留白出來;其中留白在嘉強的畫中更是具空間的重量。

這幾年,嘉強已累積足夠的檳城素描,是時候讓大家分享,也讓人透過他的眼和手認識老檳城。我衷心祝他這次的個人畫展和作品集的出版圓滿成功。

陳耀威 • 檳城


讓老房子說話的魔術師

1995年我剛從新加坡回檳工作。五月份的一個早晨 ,上班的第一天即見到了嘉強。當時,他是在一間建築師事務所當實習生,而我上班的事務所和他所服務的事務所則同在一個屋簷下,所以每天上班都有碰面的機會。他很文靜,我也不多話,工作上沒有甚麼交流,因此彼此也沒有甚麼互動,大家見了面只是禮貌地打個招呼。

一直到有一天他拿了他的作品集給我看,我才知道原來他也喜歡畫畫,話題聊開以後才發覺彼此都有共同的對畫畫的熱枕,也都曾積極地參與鍾中美術研究會活動,並且也都曾擔任過主席。這一份認同感和親切感馬上拉近了彼此的距離。

自那時起我們生命中美術的部分就不斷的交集,從95年在Syed Alatas Mansion的聯展開始,到後來共同參與南洋民間文化及檳城水彩畫會的活動,以及和一班朋友辦了個清荷人文空間,從一起外出寫生,到後來一起玩數碼相機,這位當年羞澀的少年如今已是一間設計公司的老闆。

嘉強涉獵的藝術有很多方面,其中最為人津津樂道的即是他的街景速寫。憑著他對建築物的敏感,加上獨特的誇張但不失平衡的構圖,再配以亂中有序的極富情感的線條,筆下的景物都活了起來。尤其是老房子,再怎麼殘破簡陋不起眼的老屋在他筆下總能被注入新生命,然後很驕傲地展示自己。

到過嘉強家居或辦公室的朋友應該不難發現他是非常整齊,有條不紊,端端正正的那一型,這點和他的外型頗吻合。相比之下,他筆下略帶野性的線條就顯得和他的外型不甚搭配了,但或許那才是真正的他吧?

值此第三次個展並推出素描精選集之際,祝願嘉強繼續努力,畫藝更上一層樓。

邱昌仁 • 檳城


精髓所在

莊嘉強在畫家陳來和的指導下,自年少便孜孜不倦地跋涉藝術之路。如今他結合建筑設計訓練和敏銳的觀察力,以變遷中的喬治市為對象,創作出了一幅幅令人難忘的作品。

嘉強總是念念不忘他父親在喬治市走過的足跡,從父親當年初抵馬來亞時落腳的店屋,到本頭公巷里許多潮州人常去的汕頭客棧,都是他念茲在茲的場景。透過自由且風格化的線條與空間配置,他為父親當年默默行經的喬治市老建筑和街景及其中的生活痕跡,留下了令人回味的記錄。

本頭公巷汕頭客棧

他的素描筆觸氣勢十足且富含感情,有時佐以淡彩,有時以水墨或濃淡不一的鉛筆線條敷上灰影,賦予筆下的喬治市街道、巷弄、建筑和景物一種典雅的風格。

他也擁有幾分古靈精怪的幽默感。這從他不時意有所指地在街景素描中嵌入書法體或印刷體商店招牌的方式即可見一斑。使用水墨時,他偶爾隨興以削尖的竹枝或筷子求取更細膩的筆觸,在在凸顯其深厚的功力。

這部素描作品集明顯呈現了嘉強對喬治市及其遺產的愛戀。透過那些往往被人忽視的角落,他凸顯了一些值得深思的課題,并引發觀畫者的思考。

這些精彩的素描不僅提醒我們喬治市昔日的風貌,也提示了喬治市可能再現的風采。透過這部以石墨鉛筆寫成的日記,嘉強藉著今日所見的街景,抓回了他童年經驗的精髓。

Ambiga Devy • 檳城

Essays, Sketches of Pulo Pinang

Introduction

I had the privilege of getting to know Kiah Kiean when I curated his art exhibition at Alpha Utara Gallery in 2005. Since then, we developed a friendship which has been greatly augmented by our service as members of the Penang State Art Gallery and our participation in publishing four art books, him as the designer and I as part of the editorial team.

Though I know him only for five short years, I felt as if I have known him all my life, or rather, all his life, since I am the older one. Kiah Kiean had started drawing early in his life. I have seen his drawings from age five, through his primary, secondary and tertiary schooling years, to the present. His drawings show that he possesses a God gifted talent and I am impressed with how he made use of that talent, with hard work and persistence, maturing into the artist he is today.

I admired Kiah Kiean’s works since I first laid eyes on them. Kiah Kiean has a keen eye for the essential details and essence of things, fortified by his architectural training at the Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang and his flair in graphic design. He is able to distill a chaotic street scene and reduce it to his now distinctive streetscape. Though his subject matter may be rustic buildings, his drawings exude an obvious elegance and stylishness which are most pleasant to the eyes. All his sketches in this book were done plein-air i.e. on the spot, in the open air. None of them is drawn from photographic images. Artistically, Kiah Kiean has developed a visual language of his own, elegantly distorting his subject matter, ruling out the use of a ruler, and demonstrating clearly that he is not reproducing photographic images. However, Kiah Kiean has the habit of taking photographic record of his subject matter. On hindsight, this habit has become an invaluable historic record as a number of the buildings and places found in this book are no more to be found (as at November 2009, the buildings at pages 18, 19, 24, 25, 28, 29, 88, 105, 127, 133, 144, 145, 156, 157, 158, 159, 161 have since been demolished).

I am glad Tan Lye Hoe, Kiah Kiean’s art tutor and three of Kiah Kiean’s comrade in arms lent their support to this book by writing an article each. Tan Yeow Wooi is an acclaimed restorer of historic buildings, whose projects include the UNESCO award winning Han Chiang Temple. Khoo Cheang Jin, the president of the Penang Water Colour Society, is a practicing architect and artist who, like Kiah Kiean, has combined his passion in both disciplines to produce well sought after Penang streetscapes. Ambiga Devy is a fellow State Art Gallery Committee Member and a fervent activist for the arts. I also thank Tan Yau Chong for his editorial contribution.

It has been a great pleasure editing this book. This collection of Kiah Kiean’s sketches lent to itself without much effort on my part. It depicts the Penang we seem so familiar with yet in a very fresh manner. It showcases the Penang we love and preserves the face of Penang which is fast disappearing. This is a book for every Penang lover.

Lee Khai • Penang


The Power of Ch’ng Kiah Kiean’s Dreams

What makes Ch’ng Kiah Kiean he is today is his aspiration and passion for art. This double-degree holder – one in Housing, Building & Planning; the other in Architecture – departs from his professional training to become a successful artist and graphic designer, all because he believes in the power of dreams.

No teacher could be more proud than to have an illustrious student who wants to go where he wants to and be what he wants to be. He wants to be an artist so much so that at one stage when Kiah Kiean was under my tutelage in art did he declare that his first love was art.

As his tutor and mentor, I have never in any way doubted his intention as he has shown his talent, potential and love for this creative subject. Quiet and shy though he may be, he has on the contrary, displayed a sense of individuality and persistence to express his ideas in his own personal style although when he was in my class, he was always prepared to go though the mills, meticulously doing academic exercises, not leaving out any details in his studies of still-life.

Today, he has freed himself from all the academic inhibitions to take his own route to produce thought-provoking sketches with his sensitive line expressions. Though he might be modest in certain ways, I would say that he is definitely bold when it comes to art as is evidenced in his works in this book of his entitled Sketches of Pulo Pinang.

Kiah Kiean experiments with and explores all possibilities of expressing lines with graphite, giving his viewers much thought-provoking experience. As a direct approach to communicating with lines and tones he opts for just black and white sans colours so that his audience may enjoy his works without other distractions.

Through this approach he has displayed his strength and versatility in expressing a wide range of subjects from street scenes to buildings and from boats to houses on the sea-front, employing different treatment in styles where he has shown to be much at ease with constructive realism which is much reminiscent of his training in architectural drawing. However, that does not deter him from going impressionistic, even approaching the semi-abstract with expressive vigour and freedom, thus asserting his competence in this medium.

This fine collection of drawings put together by Ch’ng Kiah Kiean in one book Sketches of Pulo Pinang, is indeed a great accomplishment for a young lad and is so commendable for the high quality of the labour of love.

Tan Lye Hoe • Penang


A Burst of Powerful Lines

Those lines in graphite may look askew and awry, yet they are so bold, powerful and penetrating making you wonder if they are really by the hand of the quiet, shy and skinny Ch’ng Kiah Kiean.

When you come to know Kiah Kiean better, you will discover a volcano of artistic passion and creativity right beneath his gentle demeanour.
I first met Kiah Kiean in 1996 in a public slide show organised by Nanyang Folk Culture, a local cultural group of which I was a key player. It was quite a pleasure to see an architecture student coming out of the campus walls to take part in arts and cultural activities. Soon after that, he became a stalwart of the group and together we organised many arts and cultural activities in which his multi-faceted talent and ability were brought into play.

Since high school days, Kiah Kiean’s creativity in painting had already surpassed that of his peers and even many artists who boasted to be professional. Besides painting, he is also adept at calligraphy, photography and graphic design.

The old Penang is one of the major themes of Kiah Kiean’s sketches. Born and bred in George Town, he has fond memories of and a strong love and concern for the heritage of the city. In the recent years, as development has caused much damage to the old cityscape, he walked the streets even more frequently in order to preserve the disappearing street scenes and buildings in his sketch book.

But Kiah Kiean’s sketches are not direct, realist representations of the old buildings and street scenes of George Town. They are always imbued with his passion and affection toward his home city. By representing the buildings and street scenes with a twist, he is in effect expressing his affectionate impressions of his subjects.

In the sketches, Kiah Kiean embraces his subjects, be they buildings or street scenes, with strokes of thick and thin lines in so powerful a manner that the subjects are somehow twisted. Such an affectionate embrace of his subjects is always interesting and very often touching.
Not only being a burst of powerful lines, Kiah Kiean’s sketches are also a lively dialogue in black and white. The abstract and the concrete, the dynamic and the static, and the tense and the lax can always find their dialectic spaces in the visual dialogue, in which the spaces left blank always have a weight.

Now, having captured so many images of George Town with his graphite pencil, it is time for Kiah Kiean to share with the world his love for the heritage city. With all my heart, I wish his solo exhibition and the publication of his sketches collection a great success.

Tan Yeow Wooi • Penang


The Magician Who Makes Buildings Come Alive

In 1995 I returned from Singapore to work in Penang. I met Kiah Kiean on my first day at work sometime in May. He was then an attachment student at an architectural firm. Both the firms we worked with were in the same building. He was modest and reticent. I saw him almost on a daily basis but we did not interact much. A polite greeting was all we exchanged when our paths crossed.

I only found out about his love for art when he showed me his portfolio one day. Once acquainted, I realised we both share a passion for art and we were at different times active in the art society of our alma mater Chung Ling High School. Both of us were president of the art society. These common backgrounds brought us close together.

Since then, we interacted much in art. From the joint exhibition at the Syed Alatas Mansion in Armenian Street in 1995, to being involved in the activities of Nanyang Folk Culture and the Penang Water Colour Society. With some friends we set up the Ching Lotus Humanist Space at China Street. From sketching outdoor together to discovering the fun with digital photography together, the shy reticent young man is now the owner of a graphic design firm.

Kiah Kiean’s accomplishments in art are expansive. Among the many are his streetscape sketches. He has a sensitive perception for buildings. With his exaggerated yet balanced form and his seemingly chaotic yet emotive lines, he brings the streetscape, especially old buildings, he sketches to life. Each modest or even dilapidated old building seems to come alive with vigour, proudly showing off.

You would realise Kiah Kiean’s tidiness if you visit his office or his home, everything is spick and span, very much the image he projects of himself. The wild lines produced by his hand seem incongruous with his character. Perhaps that’s the real Kiah Kiean.

I wish him the very best for his third solo exhibition and the publication of this marvelous collection of his works.

Khoo Cheang Jin • Penang


Essence

Ch’ng Kiah Kiean has travelled a long way from the young person who honed his artistic skills under the tutelage of Tan Lye Hoe. Today he combines his architectural training and his keen, intuitive eye to produce works that can only be described as haunting in their depiction of a city in the transitions of change.

Taking a journey, very much with his father in mind, he has captured George Town with a stylish freedom in his lines and spaces, remembering the footsteps taken by his father – from the Swatow Lodge in Armenian Street where many of his Teochew clansmen frequented to the shop house where he stayed when he first arrived in the then Malaya – picturing a soul on its quiet journey, remembering and memorizing every tone and shade of that life.

Sentimental sweeping lines, sometimes colour washed, sometimes in shades of grey accentuated with black ink and different thicknesses of graphite, are used to create his expressions of streets, lanes, buildings and cityscapes with elegant style.

Here is an artist who also has a quirky sense of humour – look for his juxtapositional use of shop signage in his street scenes, be it in calligraphy or typography, often telling a story of its own. His depth of skill emerges with his use of improvised equipment like sharpened bamboo and chopsticks to get finer details when using Chinese ink.

Kiah Kiean’s love for the city and its heritage is conspicuous in this book. By representing the nooks and corners often ignored by the passer-by, he accentuates and thus elicits thought-provoking questions from the viewer of his works.

These sketches are also wonderful reminders of what George Town was and sometimes still can be today. A diary in graphite, they have captured the essence of childhood experiences in the streetscapes of his present life.

Ambiga Devy • Penang