Sketching George Town

I put my heart and my soul into my work, and have lost my mind in the process. – Vincent van Gogh

George Town, Penang, is one of my favorite places on earth. On my first visit in 2015 I instantly fell in love with the Van Gogh colors and random charm of the old shop houses and rambling lanes. The whole place vibrates for me with a buzz I can’t quite describe.

I truly was absorbed in my task and in a state of joyous flow. These are the moments to live for!

I returned in 2016 with a mission to sketch the whole town. I woke early each day and went out to do as many drawings as I could. The humidity, even in the early morning, was intense. Sweat would drip of my face and fingers onto my iPad and I had to constantly rub it dry. I gave up doing standing sketches after the first day and from then sought out view points in the shade. Looking back, I see how fully dedicated I was to my task. As the Dutch painter observed in the opening quotation, I was in a state of joyous flow.

One of the best things about the whole experience was the reaction from other people. Locals took a big interest in what I was doing, which was very encouraging. I also ran into other artists at work, and I learnt a helpful tips, such as using my phone to take a close up photo of really small details. I didn’t meet anyone else doing digital sketches, so it was nice to be doing something unique!

In the end, I didn’t get nearly as many sketches done as I wanted to. My plan to spend a set amount of time on each sketch never worked out, as I became pulled in by capturing all the details before me.

But it wasn’t just about producing finished work, I got as much out of being in each place as I drew, fully present, vibrating with the light, colours, movement and sounds.

As well, I’ve a feeling I was leaving something to draw for next time. And there will be a next time, I’m sure.

Artwork 2016-2017 © Beautiful Diaspora
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  1. These drawings are a joy to look at! There is a lightness to the buildings, which doesn’t occur often in a photograph or the usual architectural sketch, that you were able to capture with the bright colors and shading. I can feel the radiant heat emanating and the sunbeams catching on the walls and lettering!


    1. Thank you! I’m so grateful you like them 😀 You’ve expressed perfectly what I was hoping to convey, ie the heat and radiance of the sunlight that seems to make everything in George Town sizzle and come alive. Doing the sketches has made my memories of each location so vivid. Just remembering being there gives me goosebumps, in a good way. Thank you again!!


      1. The perfect thing to look at, especially now on a cold winter’s day! 💐👏👏


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