In 2008, I went to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to work for a ship survey company. During this time, I travelled a lot. Also at this time, digital cameras became common and affordable. Capturing images became very easy and cheap. No longer was there any need to wait for the processing of photographic film and prints at the shops to see the images. No longer was there monetary loss incurred from processing of spoilt photographs. Photographic images by the hundreds or thousands could be very easily stored and viewed from computer screens. Images can be viewed directly from the cameras.
This development was very encouraging to me as an artist. Now, I could very easily capture images from the field for later developing into paintings.
So I went around taking pictures from my camera whenever I traveled. My work took me to places where there would be water, be it a river, a lake, the sea, or a shipyard. Sometimes, I would pass through these places. Sometimes, I would stay at hotels with nice beach-fronts or with swimming pools. I love it! The tools of technology are truly great.
One thing I did realized was that photographs of subjects or scenery taken from my camera seldom, if at all, present me with the ideal picture I could be pleased to hang on the walls of my home. Usually, there would be a tree branch, or bits of floating rubbish found scattered all around the scene. Sometimes, the lighting would not be perfect. At other times, the arrangement of the objects would be somewhat out of place and not pleasant to look at.
Sometimes, it would not be safe for me as a cameraman. The object would be situated at a place that would not allow me space to stand or squat in order to capture the whole scene. As an artist, I see it as a privilege to paint a real scene without including the inherent flaws. In its natural state, a scenery may be a sore eye with rubbish all over the place. As an artist, I had the power to clean it up, at least on paper, to present a beautiful piece of art to the public. My hope is that everybody will do their part to make our environment pristine and free of pollution.
In 2013, I decided to take up watercolor painting again. A few factors prompted me to take this up. Age was catching up on me. I needed an activity that I love, that would not be too physically taxing to occupy my time in my old age.
I was also able to purchase suitable art materials in Kuala Lumpur, near the place I was staying, in particular, heavyweight 300 gsm acid-free watercolor paper. Sometimes, the choice of the paper could determine whether a piece of art will be successful or not. Most of the watercolor tube paint that I had were already dried up. Luckily, they could be used again once they become wet. I had to buy a few new brushes as my old ones had deteriorated beyond repair. The studio apartment that I was staying was ideal as my art studio.
Another determining factor was the availability of funds for taking up this hobby again. Believe it or not, good artist materials do not come cheap. The struggling artist who strives to create art always have to make a choice between spending available funds for putting food on the table against spending on the purchase of artist materials.
I find that good materials are essential for creating good paintings, particularly the paint. I have also learnt that some good materials behave erractically when applied on the paper. I had learnt to avoid these through trial and error.