Tuesday, February 12, 2008

On the road

Painting plein air at Tanjung Rhu, Langkawi

The Impressionist painters of the 19th century often went on trips together to some remote places to do some paintings. On these trips, they would pack their colours, brushes and canvas or sketch books to capture the fleeting light of day on site. It was called plein air or open air painting where they would spend hours outdoors in some field or beach as they sketched live.

The last time I went on such trips was way back in 2002 with my artist friend, Suhaimi. We had gone to the east cost of Malaysia, spending time painting the landscapes of Kijal, Pulau Perhentian and Balok. It's a great experience to be painting with another artist, comparing notes on how each can render different outcomes on canvas, but of the same subject matter! Painting with a fellow artist also allows you to learn from each other and it was an inspiring and motivating experience for both of us.

Suhaimi and I spent many days on the coast, traveling from one kampung to another, just enjoying each other's company and doing lots of painting. It was a simple trip, nothing fancy, financed with only a few hundred dollars, but the experience was invaluable.

When I returned from that trip, the paintings I produced were exhibited at the New Straits Times' Balai Berita, in what was my first solo exhibition after having left the world of art for many years. The exhibition was called "Weekends," and alhamdulillah it was quite successful for me.

In the next few days, I will again make a similar trip with Suhaimi but this time, we are going to Pulau Langkawi and Kedah. The northern part of Malaysia has some fantastic landscapes -- the padi fields, the ruggedness of kampung life, the beautiful beaches and islands. Upon my return, I hope to produce lots of works of northern and rural Malaysia.

I pray that the weather is good up north!

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