I had never drawn anything made of denim before, but I knew it must be quite bothersome, if not difficult. I decided to try replicating it as best as I can for a certain amount of time, since I don’t have that much time in my hands for drawing, and this is the result. I couldn’t capture enough details on an A4 paper unless I used a 0.3 pencil, so I did. I’m quite satisfied with the result, considering I spent around 3-4 hours working on this.
Well, I could’ve spent more time, but what for? I’m only doing this for fun, because I was too fed up with studying and wanted to know, out of curiosity, how I would be able to capture a certain photograph of a Russian pianist.
I’ve accepted the fact that I’m not an artist. Right now I’m studying to be accepted in radiology residency and it’s all I think about these days.
Perhaps in another lifetime, I would be an artist. In such case, I would work on my drawings for hours and hours until it’s perfect. Until then, I’m gonna stick with my main job.
Picture: A drawing of Mikhail Pletnev. Graphite on A4 paper. 2020
One day in a sunny December in a small city called Majalengka, I pondered over my dirty brushes.
I had failed to clean them thoroughly, so the paint was stuck and the brushes were almost unusable. It wasn’t the first time that happened; though I had learned oil painting during elementary school, I never actually understood how to handle the medium. I was practically in darkness. So 15 years later, at the age of 25, I decided that I wanted to learn oil painting properly.
That was the time I met a painter-slash-engineer from Bandung, which was two hour of car ride away from home. I found him from Instagram and was captivated by his realistic paintings. They were very detailed and clean, I thought he must have mastered oil painting to have created such refined works. I asked him how he did them and he told me he used an old classical method called the Flemish technique that originated from many centuries ago. It was the technique that great old masters such as Da Vinci, Caravaggio, and Rembrandt used. This painter from Bandung is, as far as he knew, was the first to introduce the Flemish technique in Indonesia. He had learned it from Alexei Antonov, a Russian painter who resides in the US.
So, at that moment I was convinced that I had to study with him.
This method requires a good drawing skill and he said my skill was sufficient. Having met his requirements, I stayed in Bandung for ten days, spending every day painting in his studio. For my first project I had to do a master copy. I chose to copy a painting by William-Adolphe Bouguereau, a 19th century French artist, because my instructor had a book of his paintings in his studio.
Apparently, ten days wasn’t enough to finish the painting. Seven layers of paint and I only got to the sixth (color layer), and it still needs a lot of work. Sadly I had to come back to Jakarta to start working as an intern in a hospital. My instructor, who’s actually a full-time engineer, also received new projects to work on. In the end, the painting was left unfinished.
You can see the painting process in the gallery below, from sketching on the imprimatura, to umber layers, dead layers, and finally color layer.
Three months after I made this attempt, I was still not satisfied with how I painted this portrait. The proportions, for starters, were way off. I didn’t spend enough time creating the preliminary sketch so the lack of likeness stayed on up until the end and it disturbed me every time I looked at it. So yesterday I made another study of the painting using graphite and charcoal on A3 paper.
I think I did better in creating the structure of the portrait. What do you think?
I was first introduced to watercolor roughly ten years ago in high school when I had a chair mate who was proficient in art, especially watercolor and Chinese painting. I remember watercolor being the most difficult medium in art, and I struggled a lot with it. Now I have become a doctor and I still think it’s the most difficult medium in art, but I’ve received guidance from a watercolorist who taught me stuff and changed my paradigm regarding this beast of a medium. Also, I watched several tutorials on Youtube. I wanted to take a break from drawing.
For the last two days I have made three paintings. This productivity surprised even me, to be honest. All of them were made using watercolor on Baohong Artist CP 300 gsm paper.
 The first painting I made is of Braun, a cat I used to have. I used a photo that I took a long time ago for reference. Here I pretty much improvised the leaves and I couldn’t even make the pot symmetrical lol.
 For the next one, I painted a misty forest by following a tutorial by Kalliopi Lyviaki on Youtube.
 I’m not ready to paint landscapes, so I’ve resorted to painting a single object, i.e. cats. This one is called Tini, a street cat who frequented my house. I love her tortoiseshell colors and I thought it would be awesome to paint in watercolor.
My favorite artist for animal painting is Endre Penovac. There are several demos of cat painting on Youtube and I think I’m gonna study more of them.  
So, there you go. Stay tuned for more updates on my watercolor journey!
A lot of things dissipate over time, especially once we reach adulthood. Our taste evolves. Our interests go through plenty of transformations. In the end, what we used to dwell on loses its charm. Is it a good thing, or a bad thing? I wish I knew. One thing for sure is that it happens outside of our control. We have no other choice but to experience it just as it is. Embrace the change. Own the new self.
This thought emerged when I faced a well-renowned artist who told me that I should learn from art history instead of Instagram. It was a statement that hurt me deeply. Up until one year ago, I had been unable to learn art because of medical school even though I wanted to. The social media was the most accessible place where I could see good art so I was angry about it being “mocked” for being my primary source of knowledge. On the other side, I can’t help but wonder why my interest in learning art history had diminished. I had tried watching a few documentaries and ended up yawning after ten minutes.
It made me wonder if the artist in me had died. It wasn’t used to be like this. I used to be very enthused about learning art. But then again, that was a long time ago. Now things are different. I don’t care about it as much as I used to. So, what happened exactly that made me become this way? Here’s a bit of a story…
I’ve been drawing ever since I could remember, unlike writing. Reading long texts has never been something that come naturally to me, let alone write (those who write usually began as readers). I tried writing once, during medical school, when I befriended a peer who writes as a hobby. I began reading as well, from young adult novels to general fiction. That was the last time I wrote.
And now that I’m drawing regularly, I’ve decided to write again.
I want to document my thoughts and ideas regarding my process, as well as showcase my best works in one place. I think it’s important to take note of one’s ideas as a source of inspiration for future works. It can also serve as an interesting read to the future, to know how far you’ve gone in the journey. To rediscover the things you were interested in. To realize the mistakes you made and plan how you’re going to solve it.
All in all, I think writing about creating art is important in the process of art making itself.
Maybe you’ll find something interesting here, maybe not. I certainly don’t expect anyone to be enjoyed by my ramblings, but it would be nice if this blog could be a good read for everybody else.