In two days’ time, I’ll be putting out one hundred days worth of scribbles for the world to see in real life – daunting, yes you bet. Nevertheless, I’m writing this to tell you about the why, the process and the discoveries.
First of all, why is it called “Tiny People, Big Places”?
There is a world in my head that is filled with visual poems. It’s like the feeling of being in a dream, or a situation where you realized you’re just a small creature in this big world. That poetic feeling may not be significant to other people, but it is a moment that only you know. So, I put a tiny figure in each of my works, hoping to be able to convey that poetic feeling that I love so much.
After my adventure in Jakarta, I wanted to get back to the art world again – it’s the longing to work with my hands again. I always find peace when I draw or paint, then come happiness when I see the results.
I had a little trip to Hong Kong to see the Art Basel by the end of March. If I have to start somewhere to immerse myself back into art, I might as well go to the biggest one haha. Honestly, I wasn’t really impressed with the Art Basel experience. To summarize the experience, it felt like I needed to get to know thousands of personalities and stories in a span of few hours, which was complete madness. I’m sure there were many great art pieces and people in the show, but it was just too much for me – I didn’t feel the intimacy that I like when I’m getting to know a piece of an artist’s soul. However, there was this floating sculpture/installation by Shinji Ohmaki that absolutely took my breath away.
During my walks in Hong Kong fringes, I stumbled upon a beautiful Chinese ink painting exhibition – it was called Intimate Encounter, showcasing the collection of M. K. Lau – not sure who s/he is – but I was blown away by what I saw. The simplicity, honesty, fragility, beauty, nature, stories, techniques in these works – were all the strengths that I want in my art.
When I started using watercolor a couple of years ago, I was always intrigued by Chinese ink painting, the rich culture behind it (that I relate with somehow – I watched a lot of Chinese opera when I was a kid – real opera, not soapy kind – since my mom had an extensive tapes collection, and TVRI was the only channel we had). Then I decided that I wanted to learn Chinese ink painting – there were million plans in my head, but I gotta start somewhere.
Coming back to Bali, my head was full of stuff that I want to do, and I need a starter plan, to get myself disciplined again, to get myself used to painting again. I decided to take on this 100 days challenge with watercolor and paper as the medium. It didn’t happen immediately, but one fine day on April 24 (it was a Wed if I remember correctly), I just picked up my supplies and a piece of A5 paper and kick started this 100-day journey, making things up as I go.
I started with trying to imitate nature, plants, flowers, leaves, twigs – I like painting them, but after two weeks, I began to question my honesty. I’m the kind of person who couldn’t even keep a cactus alive, let alone trying to grow a whole garden. So I need to find other things to draw.
I dabbled a little bit with pointilism, since I always find it’s a dreamy art form, but quickly realized that it’s a bit too far from ink painting that I initially intended for this 100 day route. So, I put it (pointilism) back to my curiosity pocket and went on with the journey, I might go back to it someday.
Then I stumbled upon this technique called negative painting, and created the element artworks: earth, fire, wind and water, you can call me the Avatar haha. With this, I discovered there is a kind of depth that you can reach with watercolor, it’s like painting through glasses. I like it, but I still want to try other things.
Afterwards, I had a feeling that I missed painting figures, people, stories – so I started to create these hidden faces characters. Naturally, I love painting faces of people, and have the tendency to ignore other important elements in art (such as composition, color, anatomy,etc) – so I figure I shouldn’t paint the faces, kept them hidden in my mind. They turned out to be more illustrative rather than ‘arty’ – but I enjoyed them a lot. They were the tiny people in their moments as well.
And it went further for a few more days with this “Lazy Red Haired Girl with Judgemental Eyes” character.
Next, I experimented with a lot of techniques and tricks, such as masking fluid, salts, sprays and paints from brands other than Winsor and Newton. In this period, I managed to create batik-like artworks, but man, they were a pain in the ass to do, they took triple the hours that I allocated for this project daily.
Then around day 56, I found my light (cue dramatic music). Somehow I figured out a unique way to paint using watercolor and also subject matters that are suited to me – a bit abstract and simple but rich – like a visual poem. So I went down this rabbit hole pretty much until the end of this project. I called it depth obsession.
Last but not least, I have a disclaimer about this project: the initial intention was to create one artwork a day for 100 days, but when life happened (work, family, trips, mood), sometimes I skipped a day or two. In the end, I stayed true to making 100 artworks in 100 days, 24 April to 2 August, just not consecutively.
Ah ya, I also planned to blog everyday to tell a backstory of each piece, but between making the artwork, Instagram, and Facebook, it didn’t work out haha.
I created a tab in my site specially for this project. If you would like to see the complete 100-day artworks, please click here.
The showcase is from 5-21 August 2018 at Uma Seminyak, Bali.