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.