Accidental sketching class

16 Oct

I was supposed to be photographing an event, and ended up secretly picking up tips from nature artist Tham Pui San in sketching instead.

Pui San was great to talk to… humble and ever so willing to share his daily sketches – a journal of doodles that he carries everywhere he goes. I felt inspired to start one of my own but well… not yet. It’s true what he said, that you can simply sketch anywhere. And if you keep your eyes open, Art is everywhere, just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder. ūüôā

One of Pui San’s sketches

As part of my company’s community engagement, a group of colleagues and myself dropped by an elderly home to volunteer our time. We got to work with the lovely elders and also children from a nearby primary school. The task of the day was for us to engage the elderly (and kids)¬†in the sketching.

As we got down to the lesson,¬†the relentless rain pounding on the roof, coupled by the poor acoustics of the dining hall, made it rather difficult for some of the participants to follow. But it was ok… because the whole point was¬†still not lost.¬†¬†It was simply about spending some quality time together.

For me though, having the freedom to roam around, I got to chat with almost everyone and still keep an ear open to Pui San. It was great seeing him in action and breaking down the act of sketching a hibiscus flower into simple steps… in THEORY anyway!

It is still NOT simple to me!

Me and flowers…. sigh.. *shake head*


Pui San does a step-by-step guide to drawing a hibiscus

My attempt “Hibiscus in Pastel”

Here’s what I picked up thru aural osmosis (hahah.. if there’s such a thing!)

Step 1: Start by observing the unique patterns of the flower. The overall shape, the number of petals, the colours, the parts….

Here’s a picture I grabbed off the internet (random lesson on plant parts coming up!)

(Though it can be confusing for beginners like me to know how to start, the general rule of thumb is – to move from big to small.)

Step 2: Draw two concentric circles. Thereafter, divide the outer circle into five roughly equal parts and mark them down. Trace an outline from the centre of the circle to connect with the markers and you should have five triangular parts. Each part denotes where the petal shall be.


Step 3:¬†Sketch curvy lines that will form the rough edges of each petal. Go with the flow…. squiggles away!

Step 4: In the inner circle, shade in a “lip” in a darker colour (observe the flower has a darkish centre, as compared to the whole petal).

Step 5: Emerging from the centre of the flower, draw a slightly curved line – this is the “style” of the flower (and I’m not referring fashion-wise!). Ok, lame pun. Moving on…

After the rough outline sketch is completed, we move to the next stage.. COLOURING!

This is the part I got distracted. *oops* So I didn’t get to hear the instructions. But I guess with what little I know from my painting experience, I could improvise.

I didn’t get to sketch while I was at the Home so when i got home¬†(my home!), I dug out my 12-colour oil pastel set (the kind children use in school)¬†and gave it a go. That was the easy part really…

I used orange as a base for the petals, and a mix of red/brown for the centre/darker parts of the flower.

It was my first time playing with oil pastels and woosh… here it is.

My first hibiscus in oil pastel!

2013-10-03 07.34.53-2

I can’t say I’m happy with it because… I think it looks a little too flat. And I can’t tell it’s a hibiscus because the stigma, which to me is the most unique part of the flower,¬†is “buried”. I tried using white and yellow to give it a little highlight but it didn’t quite work out as I envisioned.

Oh well, failure today is success for tomorrow. A lesson learnt yet again.

One Response to “Accidental sketching class”


  1. Iron man drawings | All Things In The Middle - October 23, 2013

    […] Accidental sketching class ( […]

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